Like other former NHL players who experienced the lockout in 2004-05, Jeremy Roenick doesn’t look back with fond memories. And he believes another one is on the way.
“I don’t see how there can’t be, at least to start the season,” Roenick told Josh Rimer on Nextsportstar.com Monday night. “The owners’ proposal was so out of bounds and so off the mark, that I don’t know how they can avoid it.”
Roenick crushed the owners’ initial proposal, which was believed to include cutting the players’ share of hockey-related revenue from 57 to 46 percent among other changes.
“I think the offer that the owners put on the table was an absolute embarrassment. It was an absolute embarrassment to the negotiating process of a CBA. And here’s no way that the players would ever, ever agree to a deal that the owners put in front of the players,” Roenick told Rimer. “To me, it felt like a bullying proposal, saying ‘This is what’s going to happen, you guys, and you guys are going to come on your terms.’ ”
And while Roenick wasn’t a fan of the last lockout, which included 24 percent salary rollbacks that he called “stupidest thing in the history of negotiating,” he said that lockout needed to happen.
“I really think that the players, they were making their money, the owners were struggling to make money. The owners were in a position where they wanted to be better suited to make more of the revenue,” Roenick said. “And I really think that the owners really laid down a deal that they had to lay down. They had to play strong ball, and we did a deal that put a cap on the table when [ex-union chief Bob] Goodenow said there was no way we would ever have a cap, and we put a cap on.”
Roenick recommended limiting contracts to five or six years to protect owners and general managers from themselves. He suggested a 50-50 revenue split, something NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has voiced his opposition to accepting.
As for advice he would give both sides, it wasn’t about the numbers or economics.
“It’s just get the egos out of this. The egos seem to be the biggest obstruction on both sides,” Roenick said. “The owners have big egos, the players have big egos; everybody wants their share of the pie.”
On owners’ initial proposal
“I think the offer that the owners put on the table was an absolute embarrassment. It was an absolute embarrassment to the negotiating process of a CBA. And here’s no way that the players would ever, ever agree to a deal that the owners put in front of the players. To me, it felt like a bullying proposal, saying ‘This is what’s going to happen, you guys, and you guys are going to come on your terms. And I’m sure that the players quickly refused it and came back with something that was a little bit more decent but maybe incomplete in what it needed to get done, but something that was definitely more of the realm of where the players and the owners should be looking at, which tells me there’s a very big gap in what the owners want and what the players are willing to give. And if that’s the case and we go into another year of a lockout, third lockout in 15, 17 years, second lockout in eight years, it’s going to be very detrimental to the National Hockey League. It’s going to be detrimental to the reputation of the National Hockey League. Something needs to be done because obviously there’s a lot of money at stake and obviously both sides want a big piece of that money.”
Will there be a lockout?
“I don’t see how there can’t be, at least to start the season. The proposals, especially the owners’ proposal was so out of bounds and so off the mark, that I don’t know how they can avoid it. It’s going to take a lot of work from [commissioner Gary] Bettman and [NHLPA executive director Donald] Fehr to really put some hours into talking about what it’s going to take to get these teams on the ice. It’s a big money game right now. There’s a lot of things going on and the league’s at an all-time high in terms of its revenue and it’s at an all-time high of its popularity. And they’re playing with fire right now. They’re playing with fire, and I don’t think the national hockey league is in a very positive place to where they want to mess with the fans. We’re already the fourth lowest major professional sport, and we just had a great year on NBC where we just blew out all records in terms of our ratings and the amount of games that we had on in the states. We had great ratings in Canada, and now you’re going to take the game off the ice. It’s just a bad move, it’s a bad business move on both the NHLPA and the NHL if this were to happen.”
On 04-05 lockout
“That lockout needed to happen. I really think that the players, they were making their money, the owners were struggling to make money. The owners were in a position where they wanted to be better suited to make more of the revenue. And I really think that the owners really laid down a deal that they had to lay down. They had to play strong ball, and we did a deal that put a cap on the table when [ex-NHLPA head Bob] Goodenow said there was no way we would ever have a cap, and we put a cap on. We gave back 24 percent of our contracts for the next year, which was the stupidest thing in the history of negotiating, but we did it. And the owners won the battle. And now they’re coming in seven years later and they’re pushing again and they’re pushing for the 24 percent and they’re pushing for the higher percentage of revenue stream. You know what, It’s not a greed thing; I definitely believe that the owners need to make their money, but it can’t be a bullying system in order to get that money. It has to be good negotiating tactics.”
On waiting until now to negotiate
“They wait till the last minute to get stuff done, and the lockout is almost inevitable. … Welcome to hockey because egos don’t want to get out of the way and nobody wants to look out for what’s the best scenario. The best scenario is the National Hockey League, the best scenario is hockey, the best scenario is bringing hockey to the fans. And everybody wants to look at it as the big business first instead of taking care of what’s really important, and that’s putting a good quality game on the ice for the fans. It’s just a shame. “
Owners/players prepared to lose season?
“… There’s a large majority of the National Hockey League that has not endured a lockout yet. Trust me, when they see the amount of money that’s not being put in their bank account and a lot of stuff that happens, when the owners see their buildings empty for a long period of time, there’s going to be a lot of panic on both sides because it’s not fun.”
“It’s just get the egos out of this. The egos seem to be the biggest obstruction on both sides. The owners have big egos, the players have big egos; everybody wants their share of the pie. If it’s that big of a deal, go 50-50… Split it 50-50, and protect the owners and the GMs from themselves, make it five-year maximum contracts so they don’t have these stupid, ridiculous, idiotic 13, 14-year deals that are worth $120 million that we haven’t seen anyone live up to yet. Let’s stop being stupid and start being reasonable and put the one thing that’s important in this whole thing in front, and that’s the game of hockey.”
On Flyers giving Simmonds, Hartnell 6-year deals
“I don’t mind the six-year deals, five to six-year deals, that’s ok. When you give [Ryan] Suter and [Zach] Parise those 10, 12-year, 13-year 14-year deals, you’re committing contract suicide right here. Look what happened to [Alexei] Yashin, look what happened to [Rick] DiPietro, none of these guys have lived up to these long-term contracts because this game is so hard, it’s so physically demanding, it is one of the most powerful, hard-hitting, injury-filled games in the world and you’re giving these 13-year contracts. And then you have the Pittsburgh Penguins who give the guy who has the biggest concussion problems in all of hockey a 10-year deal or whatever Sidney Crosby got. I hope this concussion clause is in there. I think Sidney Crosby is the best player in the game, don’t get me wrong, but when you have concussion problems the way that he has in the last year and a half and you give him a 10-year deal, is that smart business? I don’t think so.”