The Associated Press
The National Hockey League locked out its players at midnight Saturday, becoming the third major sports league to impose a work stoppage in the last 18 months.
The action also marks the fourth shutdown for the NHL since 1992, including a year-long dispute that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season when the league held out for a salary cap.
The core issue is money — how to split a $3.3 billion pot of revenue. The owners want to decrease the percentage of hockey-related revenue that goes to players, while the union wants a guarantee that players annually get at least the $1.8 billion in salaries paid out last season.
The dispute is latest chapter in labor unrest that has vexed American professional sports. The NFL was locked out for much of the offseason in 2011 while the last NBA season was shortened from 82 games to 66 and began on Christmas.
Baseball successfully reached a labor deal and some have suggested that the fact MLB didn't have a work stoppage has to do with the fact that baseball has no salary cap, allowing for more wiggle room in negotiations.
While the NHL lockout might not wipe out the whole season as the one in 2004-05 did, a sizeable chunk of games could be lost without productive talks soon.
In jeopardy are a couple of key dates on the calendar: the New Year's Day outdoor Winter Classic at 115,000-seat Michigan Stadium between the host Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs; and the Jan. 27 All-Star game hosted by the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of the league's struggling small-market teams.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has insisted that hockey management is determined to come away with economic gains, even at the cost of another work stoppage. Financial damage is certain to occur almost immediately, and there is no telling how jilted fans and sponsors will react to another shutdown, especially if it lasts through the fall and into the winter.
Players are concerned management hasn't addressed the league's financial problems by re-examining the teams' revenue-sharing formula. Having made several big concessions to reach a deal in 2005, the union doesn't think it should have to make more this time after record financial growth.
Once the lockout was imposed in September 2004, the sides didn't get back together until December. That stalemate was finally resolved in July 2005.
Players absorbed a salary-cap system — the major issue then — and took an immediate 24 percent rollback of existing contracts in exchange for 57 percent of hockey-related revenues. The NHL now says that figure is too high, and wants to reduce players' share to a range between 49 percent and 47 percent.
Its original offer was to cut it to 43 percent.
Monday, September 17, 2012
NHL Locks Out Its Players In Labor Dispute
The Associated Press