Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Spin Cycle

The CBC (with no doubt more than a casual and fiduciary interest in the situation) weighs into the NHL lockout debate Tuesday night as they begin the first of two nights dedicated to exploring how the national sport got sidetracked before the season even began.

CBC news heavyweight Peter Mansbridge will host two CBC news specials on the situation at 9 pm EST (6 pm PST) on Newsworld and following the National at 10 across the country. Night number one features NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman who will present the league’s case for cost certainty and explain why the league felt that a lock out was required at this time. In addition to commenting on questions from Mansbridge, Bettman will also face a studio audience which will be allowed to ask questions of him as well.

With the league getting air time Tuesday, the players association will take over the dais on Wednesday night, when Bob Goodenow drops in to make the case for the players association. A similar set up will take place on Wednesday; a studio audience will be encouraged to ask the probing questions that so far haven’t been addressed.

Whether we learn anything from the two nights of bafflegab and number crunching remains to be seen. The fact that the two main players in the debate will appear on separate nights probably speaks volumes. Content to make their cases through the media, the concept of sitting down and negotiating with each other seems to be a distant memory.

Instead we get spin and more spin. In the end it may be that the side with the best Public relations position will come out with the public backing its position. Hockey fans had best prepare to have their emotions put through the wringer, brush up on your math skills, grab a few labour law guidebooks and bone up on negotiating 101. At a time when we normally would be consulting the various pre-season draft books about potential line mates and predicted goals and assists, we instead find ourselves learning about the likes of cost certainty and CBA language.

By the time this issue is settled (if it ever is), we’ll be more likely to be called Policy wonks over hockey Nuts, more knowledgeable in deferred taxable income than in scoring leaders and power play conversions. It all makes one wonder if we’ll ever return to the days of the “love of the game”, instead of living in the era of the “art of the deal”.

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