How to End Lockouts Forever

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The US Government is staring down a self-imposed financial hellhole called the fiscal cliff. Jon Stewart described it as launching an asteroid at yourself so you have to blow it up, just so you will finally have to learn how to destroy asteroids.

I personally advocate the NHL launching asteroids at themselves. Figuratively, of course. How would the NHL get their collective crap together long enough to even launch a rocket into space? I bet Tim Thomas could, but that would just be… never mind.

Holding a gun to your own head is a great way to get something you claim to care about done. The NHL wouldn’t shoot themselves in a vital organ by their own choice, but they might pull a Plaxico, or shoot their pinky toe off. They are already doing it, but they don’t see it like that.

Deadlines and penalties, people. That is the way of the future. Rather than outlandish voting percentages and muzzling the people who could get a deal done, the NHL should be punching themselves in their own junk, until they feel it the pain deep in the taint of their own wallets. Yes, you heard me.

Here are a few things I suggest to the NHL, in order to get a new CBA signed every time:

Start CBA negotiations as soon as the playoffs start

Players are no longer getting a paycheck from the league, so it’s actually pretty practical. But the more important part is that hockey will still be going on, and they can’t ignore what would be missing. Yes, it would be a distraction to the players who are playing, but it also has it’s upsides. Imagine that the bad teams, the ones with players outside the playoffs, were the ones able to attend negotiations. Imagine that Crosby and Malkin and the Red Wings and the Bruins and Jacobs and Leonsis were all too busy to hammer out a new CBA. All the teams making money off the playoffs are too busy to shape the talks. What would that deal look like?

Lost games equals lost pay for the NHL Officers

If the players aren’t getting paid, neither should the commissioner, his assistants, and anyone with an office at the NHL. Everyone should feel the pain. Every salary is split into 100 parts. One part is lost for every game lost. You lose the entire season, you only get 18% of your salary. This only applies to negotiation-level executives. Cap losses of non-negotiating or lower level executives at 50-75%. They should feel enough pain to put the pressure on the negotiating execs.

CBA terms limited to five years

A lockout every seven to eight years is bad enough. Limit a CBA to five years, and no one would invest in the NHL if they kept locking out at the end of every agreement. Sponsors would run for the door. Give the league incentive to bargain. Also, seven or eight years means you have to bring the hammer to every renegotiation. Five years is very survivable with a bad deal. It doesn’t become an all or nothing negotiation.

One year extensions of the CBA after it expires

If the owners or players don’t like how a CBA turned out, they have to negotiate a new one, or they are stuck with the old one.

Every new proposal is delivered with a new puppy

Puppies are cute, right? They bring good feelings, but then they poop on everything. They are rambunctious, they eat homework, and they smell funny if your don’t bathe them. If you want a new proposal from the other side, you get a new puppy. And it’s yours to take care of. Each puppy will be blogged about, and the fans can keep track of how the puppies are doing. This is accountability. Imagine being the NHL asking for new proposal after new proposal. How many new puppies are you going to have before you are willing to negotiate with what is currently on the table? Too many puppies isn’t just a song from Primus. It can be a real issue.

Unleash the 800 pound gorilla in the room

I keep hearing about this gorilla of varying weight and size. Perhaps it’s time to turn it loose. Think about what that negotiation would look like. Film it and put it out on DVD.

Hold hands during the negotiations

Partners? I’ll show you partners.

Broadcast the CBA negotiations

Let’s go CSPAN on this. It’s hard enough to understand what is going on with the various proposals and all the negotiations. Each side makes it sound like the other party doesn’t want to make a deal. Let’s stop with the manipulation of the press in order to win the PR war and make the entire thing available. Let the fans decide who is really on the side of the sport, rather than the spin doctors.

I think if you tried any of these things, you would hardly be worse off from where we are now.

Come on NHL. Let’s get a deal done. I miss you, baby, and I don’t want to miss a thing.

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