Thursday, July 21, 2005

NHLPA Ratifies CBA

It's not terribly surprising, but the NHLPA has voted in favor of ratifying the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Perhaps what is more surprising is the public dissent among players. Reports have it that Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Tie Domi confronted several players that have made statements condemning Bob Goodenow and the negotiating tactics of the NHLPA. Both Los Angeles King forward Sean Avery and Detroit Red Wing backup goaltender Manny Legace took very public exception to the Players Association negotiating a CBA which they not only claimed to have opposed for several years, but likely could have had without losing a single game to a lockout. While they have a point, for those on the outside of the negotiations that seemed obvious from the beginning and you have to wonder why it took so long for them to figure it out.

More importantly, at a time when solidarity couldn't be any more vital, not only between the players and owners, but amongst the players themselves, the comments might have been more diplomatically timed. While Tie Domi's ability to bite his tongue has long been in question, he seems to have a legitimate point in this regard.

Meanwhile, Bob Goodenow continues to be slammed by the hockey press, with the latest being The Hockey News. There was a very condemning article in the Sports Business Journal outlining several key moments of the lockout and bringing to light just how stubborn and perhaps erroneously ideological Goodenow had been in negotiations. The NHLPA executive director had long been accused of lacking a backup plan should the owners not capitulate; while it was speculation previously, increasingly that speculation is being confirmed.

One of the areas to watch in the fallout of the CBA finalization is leaks from those involved very closely in the process as the gag order is loosened, and the history of the talks leading up to the CBA being signed becomes public. In one startling article, (ex?)-hardliner executive committee member Bill Guerin is revealed as one of those pushing hardest to finalize a deal.

All that remains now is the NHL Board of Governors meeting tomorrow, at which time the owners will conduct their ratification vote and the draft lottery. Their vote should be near-unanimous as what we know of the CBA is almost exactly what they were looking for all along. At that point, the long-awaited words "game on!" will be heard on television screens and streaming audio feeds across North America and even in those isolated hockey niches around the world. Let's drop the puck!


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