We live in a world that is at least partially based on worry. We worry about the virus every time we leave the house. We worry about our kids. We worry about our country. We worry about our livelihoods now and post-pandemic....we are not short on worry...
We look to sports to give us something to escape to. And now we are reading the NHL/NHLPA can't agree on an escrow number and that there may be deadline of the end of November or some teams say as soon as this weekend? The NHL season could be cancelled..Should we really be worried about the NHL season going away?
The short answer here is: No. And here's the long version..
The players are upset. For sure. They can't help but feel that the NHL should have mentioned this increased escrow four months ago when a CBA was decided upon...After all, it was the CBA that was supposed to free us from worrying about losing our game.
Some out there say the NHL couldn't have been able to know where we'd be four months ahead.... I don't really buy that one. While we all could have "hoped" this virus would be in the rear view mirror by now, the science was pretty clear that until a vaccine was coming we weren't going to be in greener pastures until at least mid 2021. And truly...The vaccines are actually coming faster than most were predicting back then. If anyone thought this country would be able to all wear a mask and knock this thing out naturally.....well, anyone who thought that we'd all follow the science were really far from reality.
So the players have a right to wonder if the NHL had planned this all along. And that mistrust is really the biggest issue right now. The NHL players are saying, "We always lived up to the rules of the CBA, you should do the same." I get it.
But that mistrust doesn't change the reality of the situation. The reality of the 50/50CBA is simple. 50% of nothing is nothing. The players are partners in this business, but they really aren't because they have guaranteed contracts that don't take into account what happens if there aren't people in the seats. That is why the dreaded escrow exists. Escrow is just a way to assure that this is 50/50. That's it. It isn't a scary thing, but it has become the a scary thing.
I asked a former player/player agent today about the player's dreaded escrow concept.
"The players association has used "escrow" as a rallying cry for years. It is something everyone can agree they don't like, and its a word the NHL knows works against them. But the players also get the reality of the 50/50 split. They understand the escrow is the only way to make that happen. But understand the players need something to negotiate off of. Something that allows them to ask for something in return. "
The escrow serves that purpose.
The NHL wants to play games because the reality is people have plenty of entertainment options and sports ratings are already taking a hit. The league worked hard for too many years to get to this point to see that all fade away.
The players want to play because missed seasons hurt them more than they hurt the owners. We have seen this. The NHL is fine after '04-05 but the payers who lost a year of their careers or worse lost their careers by not playing that year were way more damaged.
The NHL is only asking for some security here and the players will get paid if the money is there to pay them...with all that is going on in the "real" world its hard to argue or cancel over deferred money....
So this will get done?
Done in time for a January 1 start?
I am not so sure we aren't talking mid-January as some teams have been quietly talking about for quite some time.
But you don't have to worry about this. There could be some more "tough talk" and it may get played out in the media with deadlines, and final offers, etc. Its just a game and both sides have already this game out, because as much as the NHL might have known all along that this was an option, the NHLPA also HAD to have realize all along that the NHL would come back and ask for more if the fans still weren't able to buy tickets.