As any lockout persists, it is always interesting to feel out who really gains leverage the longer a lockout goes on. While conventional wisdom would lead one to believe that both parties suffer from a lockout, the simple fact is that the players lose much more the longer a lockout goes. While the players are making a living, the owners are extremely wealthy and really just funnel money into their prospective teams in hopes of prosperity of their self-image. While owners do make money off the teams, their lives are not truly dependent on whether the teams are playing or not. As the probability of a lockout continues to rise, the players are losing leverage every second. Once a locked out season begins, their paychecks are not sent in the mail and the players will be more willing to settle on a deal that favors the owners.
After the last lockout, it took a few years for the NHL to regain its’ footing in America and it seemed that the NHL finally was beginning to blossom. Hockey was growing, seeing record revenues and viewers to a sport that has continually taken a backseat to the NBA, NFL, and MLB. The introduction of the Winter Classic was an instant success, having found a strong foothold in the US. Everything seemed to be going well until the realization that the CBA expired. It is clear that the revenue has increased and that the owners want to get a bigger cut of the money. However, the players believe that they are the one that are creating all the cash flow, wanting to keep the current model or even increase their revenue share.
The simple fact is the players know they have the life right now, denying this would be blasphemous. The players also know that some teams are much worse off than others, not garnering the revenue that the elite teams are making. In fact, the Florida Panthers actually lost money last year. It is reasonable to believe that the players would probably agree to a 50/50 revenue split and possibly a salary rollback, only if that money is given to the weaker franchises in the NHL. At this current point in the negotiations, revenue sharing is the hot topic. If both sides were willing to split the money, a lockout would seem extremely improbable. However, greed rules the world and we will just have to see if the love of the NHL in the end can prevail.