|Recchi thinks players would be best to get a deal now and save as much of the season as they can. (Getty Images)|
Mark Recchi was known as Dr. Recchi during his career, which ended with the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2010-11. Apparently that doctorate came in business because he is sharing some advice for the players entrenched in this lockout.
Recchi spoke with Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe and suggested the players think long and hard about taking the offer on the table. This offer could be as good as it gets.
"My advice," mused Recchi, part owner of the Kamloops Blazers junior squad in the Western Hockey League, "is that the longer it goes, the worse [the offer] is going to get [for the players]. Hey, I'm an owner, too, so I see both sides. We lose money on our team, and obviously that's not the same, the money's not nearly as significant as in the NHL, but the business dynamics are similar. We've lost money every year we've owned it."
"The longer they're out, the revenues are going to go down and down," said Recchi, explaining why he believes the NHL's offer is only going to get worse. "Corporate sponsors aren't going to be lining up ... so there goes that money. The schedule isn't going to be 82 games, I don't think, at this point. That's more money lost. So, how are you going to get a better deal? Personally, I think the best time is now."
Recchi also said that the players need to think like businessmen and realize that a smaller portion of the pie beats no pie at all.
The question is: Is Recchi's assessment on point? Will the offers only get worse?
Well we've heard that before and it never seems to materialize. At some point, sure, the deal likely gets worse, but that seems to be a ways off. It's nearly impossible for me to believe that, after all the work that has been put in, they would reverse course and scratch all the progress that has been made.
Believe it or not -- and it can be hard to remember this at times -- everybody wants to play hockey. The players want to be on the ice and the owners want their teams to do the same. In that case, everybody wins. For the sake of negotiations, I can't imagine the framework of a deal -- something they seem close to on the economic aspects -- would be blown up at this point. If it were to happen, then you could kiss the season goodbye.
Further, if the league were to take such a dramatic stance, it has to know there would be repercussions. If the offers were to start deteriorating, the union would still have its ultimate card in its hands, and that would be the prospect of attacking the salary cap. It's well known that Donald Fehr isn't the system's biggest fan.
That's not to say Recchi's belief doesn't have some merit here, but I am not sure he isn't preaching to the choir. The sides have been working at this and have come to the point where we have pretty much accepted a 50/50 split will be in the next CBA, probably by no later than the third season, if not from the beginning. They seem willing to accept that part of this, it's just working out the finer details.
He is absolutely on the money (no pun intended) about the revenue going down with each passing day without a deal -- that's pretty inarguable. If the players heard something that was amicable, I think they would all agree that the time is now. However, there are still things to fight for, specifically contract rights. The league seems hell-bent on reducing player liberties and the union shouldn't just take that and roll over. It doesn't seem to make a ton of sense why the owners would care so much how long contracts are when they've already determined how much money they will be worth.
We had heard back in October, when the NHL made its very public proposal to the players, that that was the best offer the league could responsibly make. Since that time, we've seen the deal get better with the league making concessions and kicking in money from the owners' side in the make-whole offer. If the players had accepted it, then they wouldn't have the "claw backs" they've gotten from the league in recent weeks.
Negotiations are long, tedious and annoying but they are negotiations for a reason. There is a give-and-take process involved that goes beyond the NHL giving and the union simply taking it. While we'd all like to see Recchi's advice heeded, it's unlikely it will happen just like that, despite his status as a previously strong member of the player contingent and a doctor.