NHLPA wins, fans lose
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the greedy owners got their 50-50 hockey-related revenue split, a 7 percent decrease for the players. But NHLPA leader Donald Fehr got the better of the deal on maximum length of contracts, next year's $64.3 million salary cap and a more defined pension plan.
The empty rinks stuck it to arena workers and ancillary businesses that depend on game-day patronage. Bettman stuck a knife into the backs of new TV partners by wiping out 480 games, including All-Star weekend and the Winter Classic.
It's the sports fan who gets the shortest end of the hockey stick. While hockey is a religion in Canada, more fickle U.S. fans will take longer to win back.
No one finishes ahead
The owners and players came to their senses in time to prevent a second canceled season in eight years, but there are no winners.
The high-paid athletes who play the greatest sport on earth look greedy, and the millionaires who pay their salaries look even worse. And once again, the loyal fans were cheated — this time out of half of a season.
The diehards shouldn't come back right away, but we will. But the reputation of the NHL — which had been nearly restored due to rule changes since the last lockout and because of exciting young players to market — has been soiled to casual fans.
The league I love is once again a national punch line.
Owners hold the cards
When the dust settled on the utterly embarrassing affair, the owners came away as winners. When you hold the keys to the arenas, you hold most of the cards, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman played them to the point where he squeezed every last dollar he could from the players before reaching an agreement.
The NHLPA scored some victories — most notably a better pension plan — and certainly did not get steamrolled like it did in 2004-05. Still, when the end result means 7 percent less of a share of hockey-related revenue, limits on contract lengths and players losing almost half a season of salaries while waiting to get back to work, the owners are the ones who came out on top.
Only winners: Kings fans
The winner? There is only one winner in all of this: Kings fans.
It was bad enough that Kings fans had to wait what seemed like 1,000 years for a Stanley Cup title, but then to have the banner and ring ceremony delayed on top of that? Too cruel, NHL. It made the title seem like mirage in the desert. Did it really happen? If the Kings win the last title in NHL history, does it make a sound?
Other than that, no one won. The players made many concessions. The owners came across like Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly mascot who is always asking for your money when you draw a Community Chest card. Come on, Uncle Pennybags, do I really have to pay a $15 poor tax?