Most hockey fans were probably shocked and disappointed with the breakdown in negotiations between NHL owners and players on Thursday. Well don't be.
Sure both sides trashed the other side and appear to dig in their heels. But much of this is public posturing. In fact I have never seen labour negotiations have such a high degree on transparency. It's not like public opinion will determine how this will end.
Back in 2004, the two side were miles apart. The owners wanted a salary cap and a role back in salaries. The players wanted none of that. At the time players were actually receiving about 73% of revenue which is totally out of line with other sports. The players and owners eventually reduced the players' share to 57%.
This time around the owners would like to see a collective agreement that addresses some of the flaws of the previous CBA - like circumventing the cap by dumping salaries in the minors or front loaded contracts of 10 years or more. And the owners want to see the players share more in line with the NBA and NFL where the split is 50:50.
These issues aren't as fundamental as whether or not there should be a salary cap at all. In fact, the players' counter-offer on Thursday included a 50% split. The difference between the parties is essential how you get to that 50% split and how many years it should take. The owners want it in year 1, while the players want it take take longer so that players under contract don't need to take a salary cut this year.
These difference will be sorted in a short period of time. Despite the rhetoric, neither side will want to see game lost let alone an entire season on what is in reality a small gap. The media has also over reacted having been sucked by last Thursday's dog and pony shows.
As a side note, I know a lot of bloggers who are critical of Damien Cox at the Toronto Star. I'm not impressed by Cox but see no point in ripping him. Interestingly he posted an opinion that suggested that Donald Fehr was doing a pretty crappy job representing the players and coming to negotiation meetings unprepared. In contrast, Jeff Blair in the Globe heaps praise on Fehr. So who are you going to believe? For one thing, Cox has a history of conducting character assassinations in his columns. But frankly, Fehr's reputation is beyond untouchable. That's why the players hired him. Any allegation that Fehr isn't doing a good job is ridiculous.