One of Donald Fehr's objectives in negotiating a new CBA as Director of the NHLPA was to create stability in the NHL in an attempt to end the cycle of labor stoppages that have enveloped the sport.
After 113 grueling days that saw hockey lose nearly half the season, millions in revenue and potentially scarred fans for life from engaging in the coolest sport on Earth, Fehr and Commissioner Gary Bettman reached a tentative agreement in the wee morning hours of January 6.
But will the new CBA actually create labor peace?
Among the new details awaiting to be ratfied by both sides, the new CBA calls for a 10-year length and opt-outs in Year 8. To me, that beckons for the same show we witnessed recently to creep up again in eight years. No matter how much the sport grows over the next eight seasons and no matter how much record revenue is generated, I can almost assure you the NHL will be immersed in another lockout.
Why? Because there will always be something that needs to be fixed, some reason for the owners to cry that their sport is severely damaged (when in reality, they can't help themselves like a child to a dessert buffet table).
In 2004, it was "cost certainty" that wiped an entire season of the books. The executives of the NHL were not signing any deal that did not include a salary cap. This time around, it was "profit certainty" to limit long-term contracts, mitigating the damage of future mistakes from trigger-happy owners.
What could the issue be heading into the 2019-2020 season? It hasn't manifested yet. The games have to be played. The ridiculous circumventing has to occur again before we see how this new agreement is flawed. The fans will have to endure an eight-year high before having the air let out slowly from their ballon.
The cycle has to start again. The same cycle Donald Fehr wished to end, but ultimately knew it was never possible to do.
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