It could be just hours or minutes before we find out that the National Hockey League’s thirty participants will be officially boarding up their doors for the 2004-2005 season. Without suspense due to NHL Vice President Bill Daly’s leaked memo to the league owners on Monday afternoon, Gary Bettman is set to tell the player’s union that last Thursday’s proposal is NOT what they had in mind.
Leading up to the labour dispute, the league has maintained that the main ingredient for a settlement was cost certainty in the form of a salary cap. The center-piece of the NHL Player’s Association’s offer last week was an immediate salary roll-back in the amount of 24 per cent, with every player losing just under a quarter of their current negotiated pay. Although a large sacrifice, the salary roll back can be seen as a public relations move for the currently “ill-favoured” players. It may seem like an admirable concession, but the one thing their proposal certainly does not provide is cost certainty. And nothing is in place that would prevent the players from recovering that 24 per cent in their next contract negotiations. Hence, nothing will have changed.
The short-term roll back is a “band aid” on a bleeding artery. Apart from a miracle, it appears that there will be no Hockey Night in Canada for the rest of the scheduled season. So where does this leave us? Well…Emanuel Sandhu is skating in the ISU Grand Prix Final in Beijing this weekend.