Thursday, July 26, 2012
1) One aspect of the NHL-NHLPA negotiations that we didn't think of until a trusted source alerted us to it last night was the fact that Gary Bettman and the owners have a key advantage over the NHLPA. Specifically, they know in advance almost all the players sentiments/proposals, thought processes that go into their positions, etc before they are officially relayed to the league. The players have no such advantage. They don't know what the owners are thinking until its formally presented at the negotiating table. The owners can anticipate the players every move and can plan in advance their response. How you may ask??
2) Simple, the NHL and Gary Bettman always have at least one 'mole', usually multiple moles who are fringe players who actively feed the league the inside player strategy/tactics. We are told that this was especially vital in breaking the players last time around. Then NHLPA head Bob Goodenow wasn't sure who they were, but knew there were players leaking vital strategic information to the other side. This led to his becoming suspicious of most of the players, even some of the inner circle, which we're told hastened the fracturing and eventual crumbling of the players' resolve last time around.
3) The next logical question is why? Why would a player become Benedict Arnold? Simple, for money. These select players have been given assurances of jobs. Not only as a player, but positions within the league or one of the 30 organizations. These players are usually fringe, 4th liners at best, so these 'guarentees' of employment are hard to resist. We're told while Donald Fehr doesn't know who the possible moles are, he is aware of their existence. MLB tried a similar tactic with him back in the late 80's and it failed miserably because unlike the NHL, MLB players are MUCH more united and any player who would have attempted to do that would have been black balled and shunned forever.There is no such fear in the NHL.
4) Fehr simply has no other choice but to press on and anticipate that Bettman and the NHL will know his moves prior to any formal meetings and to negotiate accordingly. As one person with knowledge of the situation told us when contacted last night, "it really doesn't matter anyway, Bettman and the owners already know what the next CBA will look like, its just a matter of when the players will agree to it". Meaning, NHLPA strategy is meaningless when the other side's position is cemented already and immovable.