Monday, September 3, 2012

How To End CBA Negotiations

Okay, NHL and NHLPA and whoever else is involved. You've been pointing fingers and deflecting blame for too long. It's time to finally decide whether or not there'll be a lockout this year.
I mean, come on, I'm trying to plan a trip in October but there's a Habs game that month that I quite literally need to attend, so make up your minds so I can get planning and buy a plane ticket while the airlines are having seat sales. Because yes, I have to look for sale prices on airfare because I'm not as rich as anyone who gets to decide whether there'll be hockey this year or not.

Since you refuse to come to any sort of agreement, here are some ideas that I propose and may actually force you to try:

Undercover Boss it. All of you guys in suits with nice houses are squabbling over money, while arena employees and small business owners are wondering how they'd be able to replace the income that they get during the hockey season. So we're putting you in their shoes. You're going to take orders at concession stands. You're going to bus tables at a sports bar. You're probably going to hate it. Now, imagine how much more stressed you would be if you were at this job, serving much larger crowds during a hockey game. You would never know. But you would get to see what it's like to be the kind of person who wishes for a huge customer rush during hockey season so that you could put a bit more money in the bank to pay off some loans or buy warm boots for your children.

Owners: Fire your GMs. Why would any team owner argue that players' salaries are too high, when hockey teams need players? And where do these players and their contracts come from? They don't just fall out of the sky, dear owners of the NHL. Remember those guys you hired to run your hockey organization? They're the ones who get the players. They're the ones who negotiate these ridiculous salaries. If you think your players are getting paid too much, fire the guys who pay them.

Take a pay cut. Everyone. Offer to make 10% less than you do right now. Anyone who works in hockey and has Scrooge McDuck money is going to take a pay cut. If you're so worried about money, try spending some of your own. Don't be that friend who says they're broke, but goes out for steaks every week. No one likes that friend.

If you can't cut your budget, cut your earnings. Being a hockey fan (and probably also a sponsor) can get pretty expensive. Think about what you'd have to do to make things more affordable for us. What would happen if there were less ads in the arena? Imagine what it would be like if no one ever had to pay more than $100 for a ticket. What if merchandise cost less than it does now? You'd have to find some way to make things work. Just remember that all of this money you're arguing over comes from somewhere.

Pretend you're a jury. I'll have you sequestered if I need to. You're all going to spend time in a mid-market hotel conference room with a jug of water and some cheap sandwiches. There will be no half-days, no days off, no impasses, no "We'll pick this back up in a couple of days." There will be no talking to the press and no going home to your families. You're going to stay in that mid-market hotel and most of the good stuff will be gone by the time you get to your continental breakfast. The bailiff will make sure no one tries to duck out early for a round of golf or whatever. You're going to sit in that room and talk until you reach a verdict. It'll be like 12 Angry Men, sort of. (Would anyone in a room full of businessmen and jocks even have seen 12 Angry Men?)

Okay, maybe you get breaks. But all of the entertainment will be decided upon by your children. So, you can either continue negotiations or spend an entire day watching the same episode of Hannah Montana over and over and over again.

Or, we can do this Hunger Games-style. If you can't negotiate, then you'll have to compete. I won't make you all fight to the death, though, because there are too many players on that negotiating committee that we like, and it was really sad when characters we liked died in the Hunger Games. (We at HIHW will always have Dominic Moore's back.) Instead, this will be a televised dance-off. You're going to dance. On television. May the odds be ever in your favor.

It's up to you. You can either come to a decision on your own, or I'll help you. Just please, stop dragging your heels on this.

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