On Friday afternoon the NHL announced the cancellation of all regular season games scheduled for the month of November. Although some games surely could be resuscitated in the event of an agreement between the league and the NHLPA, this surely is not a good sign.
Popular Toronto radio host, Bob McCown, stated that there was a constituency of NHL owners that believe cancelling the season is the best way to approach these negotiations. He told this to John Shannon and Nick Kypreos on the Wednesday October 24th edition of Prime Time Sports (Sportsnet 590 The Fan) and reiterated the sentiment to Doug MacLean on the following nights broadcast.
McCown said he spoke to an owner who feels that the best way to approach these negotiations is as follows:
Step 1 – Owners to cancel season.
Step 2 – In the spring the owners will offer a take it or leave it deal and open the doors to the players.
Step 3 – The NHLPA will then strike, or as Nick Kypreos suggested, they will decertify.
Step 4 – This will allow for the possibility of players to cross the picket line or for the NHL to use replacement players.
The feeling among the constituency of owners who believe this to be the appropriate strategy is that half of the players will walk across the picket line on day one.
This is a pretty simplistic view of a fairly complex process, but McCown is convinced that there is more than one owner who believes this to be the best strategy. Considering that Gary Bettman only needs eight owners to support him, this is a very scary proposition for the players and most importantly, NHL fans.
McCown did not give any indication as to whether Bettman would be keen to take this approach or if he was even aware of this possible course of action at this time. But seeing as Bettman and the owners have already cancelled one full NHL season and that they have just cancelled all NHL games through the month of November for this season, they clearly are not afraid to miss games to get what they want.
This potential strategy provides more support to the theory that Gary Bettman and the owners have no desire to NEGOTIATE a deal with the NHLPA and that their only true strategy is to hold out until the NHLPA begins to crack. This was the way they approached the 2004 lockout and based on what we have seen so far, this appears to be their strategy again.
To listen to what McCown said on Prime Time Sports, use the following link and follow to the October 24th 5 o’clock session and skip to the 32:20 mark:
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