Love him or loathe him, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had the most telling quote of the NHL/NHLPA showdown when he was talking about the CBA signed in 2005.
"We made what we thought was a fair deal," Bettman said. "It actually turned out to be more fair than perhaps it should have been."
Roughly translated in commissionerspeak that means: "We thought we got the best end of that deal and stuck it to the union, but instead we hurt ourselves and now that the CBA has expired we're going to get a big chunk of that money back, even if it means another lockout."
And "hurt" may not be the right word.
But let's go back. Turn to page 193 in the CBA. Go to section 50.4 -- "League-wide player compenstion, players' share."
That's the part that specified the players' share in 2005-2006 would be 54 percent of HRR. It spelled out the players' adjusted share of HRR upward to 57 percent over the course of the CBA. The final sentence of the section reads: "Actual HRR for a league year is $2.6 billion; the Players' share for such league year will be 56.66667 of Actual HRR."
There's the magic 57 percent that Bettman believes was "too fair." But somebody proposed the HRR split and both sides agreed on it. The CBA was signed July 22, 2005. Bettman's signature is on it.
And guess what? Revenue rose. A lot. The 57-percent kicked in for the players. The average NHL salary rose from $1.45 million to $2.45 million during the course of the CBA.
Last year revenue was more than $3.3 billion. That worked out to more than $1.86 billion for the players' share.
The "home run" Bettman and the owners thought they hit in 2005 started sounding like a loud single. It was a huge miscalculation. Something had to be done. And look who was waiting on the other side this time: Don Fehr.
So here we sit. We're in the middle of October and there likely will be no hockey this month as the two sides sit down again for meetings this week.
Bettman as yet has been unable to get a CBA that's "more fair" for the league. Until then, we sit.
Another Bettman quote came a few days before the lockout: "This is what I do. This is what my life is about in terms of how I spend most of my waking hours."
Bettman said it was hockey and the NHL. Or was it making more money for the owners?
Commissionerspeak, you know.