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Gretzky thinks last lockout eliminated “the big hurdle” to labor peace

Nov 15, 2012, 9:32 PM EDT

Former NHL player Wayne Gretzky shakes hands with Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings after the ceremonial opening faceoff as Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils looks on prior to Game Three of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
(June 3, 2012 - Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Whenever Wayne Gretzky talks hockey, it’s hard not to listen. His achievements as a player have earned him that much.

Lately though, Gretzky has also been one of the few optimistic voices during a lockout that that has led to fan frustration and anger.

Earlier this week he said that he still thinks we’ll have a 2012-13 NHL season. Part of the reason for that is because he believes the greatest gulf between the players and owners is already gone.

“I thought that in 2004 when we changed the structure and went to a salary cap, I thought that was the big hurdle,” Gretzky told Brian Shactman of CNBC Sports Biz. “So, it seems to me that the big hurdle is behind us or sort of in the rear-view mirror.”

Gretzky thinks this lockout has already cost the NHL fans, but he added, “it’s such a great game and these athletes are so good, hopefully we can win back some of those fans that aren’t happy with the current situation.”

Repairing the damage from the lockout is something that the players and owners will focus on eventually, but the first step towards recovery is agreeing to a new CBA.

Hopefully Gretzky’s prediction will come true and a deal will be done in time to salvage the 2012-13 campaign.

  1. jaybird22seven - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    Not a hope in hell !!!! This season is over !!!!

  2. sportsfan69 - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:45 PM


    It’s not in Donald Fehr’s nature. It won’t happen. Thanks for your optimism. Somebody else going have to lead NHLPA out this mess.

    • eyeh8goodell - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      The NHLPA didn’t create this mess. It’s Fehr’s job to make sure Gary “Triple Crown Lockout” Bettman doesn’t bend them over a table with no Vaseline again………and then brag about it. Like last time. And he’s doing exactly the job he was hired to do. And for the first time in Bettman’s career of using lockouts as a negotiating tactic the guy across the table is far better than he is. I’m having a great time seeing Bettman pretty much reduced to tears after every session. This is far more satisfying than watching hockey, I can do that anywhere.

      • ron05342 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:48 PM

        I’m not sure what medication you are taking, but I am interested.

        Seems to enable you with wild fantastical and delusional daydreams.

        Go ahead and believe what you want to believe, but the REALITY of the situation is that this is the NHL’s game, whether you want to believe it or not. They hold all the cards, and have the bigger pots of money. As was shown last time, they can hold out a hell of a lot longer than the players, and that is what is going to happen this time as well.

      • tomnickle - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:55 PM

        @ron, if NHL owners held all of the cards there would be NHL games played tonight. The players have all of the leverage this time around.

        1. Despite what you may think, the players are winning the public relations battle by an unprecedented landslide.

        2. There are more professional hockey leagues at this point in time than at any time in the history of the game. Because of that, there are opportunities for every locked out NHL player to achieve high paying employment outside of the NHL.

        The owners aren’t without leverage, but the players don’t have to write six and seven figure cheques for lease payments, signing bonuses, contracts that were negotiated with lockout clauses. Nor do they have to pay for executive personnel.

      • therealjr - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        Explain please how the NHLPA got killed in the last CBA? Has there ever been a more prosperous time for the great majority of NHL players? Why are the relative comparisons so important to people? Is absolutely dominating the negotiation and ending up with less than 50% better than getting hosed and a 50/50 split?

    • tomnickle - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:12 PM

      Sometimes I think to myself that Owners are paying people to log onto sites and offer support. What specifically about Donald Fehr’s public statements or actions could possibly lead a person to believe that HE is the obstacle preventing labour peace between the NHL and the NHLPA? What?

      And I’m asking for something specific. Whether it be HRR, Revenue Split, Contracting Issues or otherwise. Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs have implemented a gag on ALL OWNERS, they have a closed door policy regarding labour negotiations toward the people who OWN NHL FRANCHISES.

      Their cloak and dagger operations, stonewalling negotiating tactics(if you could even call them that) and lack of accountability for THEIR game, THEIR negligent lack of management of assets and collective have lead to and have sustained this LOCKOUT, NOT STRIKE. But wait, I’m saying they. They would be an applicable noun if the owners were actually allowed to negotiate, comment or in any way have an impact on this Collective Bargaining. But they don’t. Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and Jeremy Jacobs do. And because of that they are responsible BECAUSE they decided to lock these players out of the workplace until each of their numerous DEMANDS, not REQUESTS are met.

      If the players and Donald Fehr were responsible for work stoppage, it would be called a STRIKE, say it with me now……..STRIKE. NOT A LOCKOUT……say it with me now……NOT A LOCKOUT.

      • alexb64 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM

        It’s not owners doing that, it’s free labor on the NBC Sports Talk sites with the commenters. PFT comment sections were about the only place in the world where people were supporting NFL owners during the lockout. Most NBC Sports Talk commenters are still angry that black people were emancipated.

      • tomnickle - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM

        Yep. Here comes the Thumbs Down feature. Come on mental midgets. Explain to me and the rest of the civilized hockey fan base how this “LOCKOUT” should be attributed to Donald Fehr.

        3 Work Stoppages – All three with Gary Bettman serving as Commssioner. All due to Bettman demanding concessions at every level of negotiations with little to no reciprocation on the most insignificant issues.

        Again, three work stoppages, and all three were lockouts. Not a single one was a strike.

        Yeah, Donald Fehr’s the problem.

      • buckeye044 - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:43 PM

        Said it before… way will any major sports league EVER enter a season with an expired CBA. You can attribute that to Mr Fehr and MLB 1994.

    • alexb64 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:19 PM

      You should probably google “Gary Bettman” & “labor relations” before you pin this on Fehr. Donald Fehr despite being “best remembered” for the MLB strike in 94 also won one of the most groundbreaking cases of collusion against MLB owners & as well was credited as being instrumental in there NOT being a work stoppage when the MLB faced another in 2002 (at the frickin deadline) & as well worked diligently to see that there wasn’t one again in 2006.

      Players can’t lock themselves out, and were willing to negotiate in good faith while playing THIS season under the same CBA that the NHL owners fought so hard to get when they lost the entire 04-05 season.

  3. phreakin - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Loved Gretzky as a player but he helped ruin the Coyotes with his buddies. They robbed the team and left it to die and they’re still trying to recover

    • thailer35 - Nov 16, 2012 at 8:41 AM

      THANK YOU! I believe whole heartedly that Gretzky has the same ignorant mindset that so many others do that a hockey team SHOULD NOT (not CANNOT, SHOULD NOT) exist in the desert. I believe he came here with full intentions of ruining the team and ultimately have it relocated or folded. He has come close to succeeding, and he may still see that day if the ignorant newly elected Glendale officials have anything to do with it. It is truly unfortunate that this lockout has killed all of the momentum the Coyotes had built from that playoff run last year. They were the best team in the valley and, had the season started, could have done tremendous things while the rest of Phoenix was starting to pay attention, but that has passed.

      Thank you again Gary for delaying the day I get to see that Pacific Division Champs banner go up.

      More importantly, thank you, oh “Great One” for creating the possibility that the team will be gone before that moment comes. Don’t ever come back here again.

  4. jhunter21 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Here is how I see it. The players need the owners more than the owners need the players. Here’s a couple of reasons why.

    1. If it wasn’t for the owners, the players wouldn’t have jobs playing a game they love.

    2. Hypothetically, if hockey were to just vanish and not exist, the owners (who have hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars) would turn to another avenue to keep themselves richer than holy hell.

    3. The average player in the nhl makes, makes what, just under a million per season? That’s more money than most people make their entire lives, and with the average career spanning 4-5 years, that shatters any journeyman carpenter who also applies himself to a trade.

    The players need to realize who wears the pants in this relationship. They are entitled to rights, but need to be aware that their greed could affect the game beyond their time. The owners greed will always win. It’s the main reason they are owners of a professional sports team.

    • woodstakes - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      You’ve got that backwards my friend… IF the owners decided to put replacements on the ice instead of the top guys right now… the NHL would DIE! PERIOD! You could replace every single owner on every single team and keep the same players and NO ONE would even notice it happened. Right THERE is the difference!! The PLAYERS ARE THE PRODUCT.. the NHL is the seller of that PRODUCT! PERIOD!! McDonalds doesn’t go very far without any food to sell do they?? There is absolutely no difference here. Plus, all these guys can go work else where… and guess where all the money will go then… it will follow right behind the players. The KHL dream.. “Gary Bettman decides the NHL will go with replacement players…” WHAM! The KHL gates open up.. contracts come falling from the sky.. a true MASS movement overseas happens… NHL waves bye bye to NBC! Waves bye bye to corporate sponsors who signed up for a specific product and now said product no longer exists. Empty arenas trying to GIVE tickets away just to keep a few sponsors… But, your right… they will still be very very rich these owners.. they just won’t have a pro franchise hockey team anymore!

      Far to many of you fail to realize truly how much power the players have here. AS long as they are willing to sit (and it appears they are), they will get a better deal than has been offered so far. They are not stupid they know they will have to give up on some things, however they decided from the very beginning what and where they are willing to go to and no further… NOT like last time.

      • jhunter21 - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:18 AM

        I agree that the players are the product. They are what make the NHL such a strong attraction. I am just looking at the bigger picture, beyond hockey. These owners didn’t make their Billions on a sports franchise, they made it through other means, and then found hockey; so, they truly don’t need the players. Most of these players need this job (to get paid what they get paid now).

        I was just saying (hypothetically) that the owners don’t need to players to stay rich. They will always be rich. Most of the NHLers would have trouble finding work at the wage they make now elsewhere. The top 10% would be fine, obviously, but they would most likely not need income for the rest of their lives with the money they’ve made. It’s the guys who only have 4-5 years in this league that are truly going to suffer if something catastrophic were to happen (lose 1, 2, even 3 seasons).

        Imagine this for a second, something completely and utterly impossible happen, and hockey just disappeared from the face of the earth, with the only trace being the memories of the fans and players. The owners would be fine. They would still drive their high priced cars to one of their multi-million dollar homes, and after a few years of finding some other way to sustain their fortune, would forget all about hockey. They would stay rich. Those players, who will have to work when their careers are over to get through the rest of life, would have to become regular Joes, and pick up a shovel or hammer to make their ends meat. That’s my point. The owners don’t need the players.

      • jhunter21 - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:26 AM

        I also should say that, I don’t have a side I feel is more in the right here. I just want to watch my Canucks disappoint me in a 7th game of the Stanley Cup final, if they don’t get knocked out of the playoffs again by another Stanley Cup winner. Lol.

        Both sides are retarded, but I just feel that the players have more to lose, only if you look at it beyond the game of hockey, and beyond the now. The rich stay rich.

      • desertfan - Nov 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM

        There has never been a suggestion of replacement players.
        The owners strength is simply that they have the financial ability to do without the HRR share as they have other empires.

        The players on the other hand are in dire financial position.
        Contrary to earlier posts there are NO other avenues for paying jobs other than the carpenter wages available to the lucky two way contracts that allow Hall, Eberle et al to ply their craft in the AHL.

        Those opting for Europe are doing so at unbelievable cost.
        Insurance is far more than wages available and add on the costs of living in two places at once etc. etc.

        Game -set and match to the owners eventually!!!


      • therealjr - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:16 PM

        You can have the greatest product in this history of the world, but if you have no one to manufacture it and sell it, you have nothing.

        They KHL could have access to every NHL player and not generate the revenue the NHL does. In fact lots of those teams are nothing more than cash sinks for people who have more money than they know what to do with. Think that lasts forever?

  5. sjsharks66 - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    A part of me thinks they have a deal already done. Just taking more jabs and putting on a front, just to come out of left field and be like WE DID IT LIKE US AGAIN!

  6. LoyalFan34yrsGoKings - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    San Jose 66. Smart cookie!

  7. antkowiak666 - Nov 16, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    even if they do play i will NOT be attending any games this year,but i will watch them on the tube.

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