Ceasefires, negotiations and lack thereof

Israel and Hamas can negotiate a ceasefire, but not the NHL

Over the last week or so, fighting has raged in Gaza between Hamas and Israel, as the two sides took a break from relative peace to flex their militaristic muscles.

Hamas sparked the conflict by lobbing rockets into Israel, which escalated after the Israeli Defence Forces assassinated a senior Hamas military leader in an airstrike.

The two enemies continued the charade of tit-for-tat — Hamas with rockets, Israel with airstrikes — until a cease-fire was brokered with help from the U.S. and the Egyptians.

We’ll see how far this agreement goes, which came into effect on Wednesday evening, but it’s an encouraging sign from two sides that seem hell-bent on destroying each other in the most volatile region of the world.

It makes me think of two other sworn enemies, though not on the world stage, but rather the sporting arena, as the NHL and NHLPA are still searching for a way to come to terms.

Don’t get me wrong, I care much more about a peace agreement between Israel and Hamas than I do about the wrangling between millionaires and billionaires, but  I think there’s an interesting parallel.

Hamas, an armed political entity, refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, while Israel, along with many Western governments, have labeled Hamas a terrorist organization.

The two are bitter, bitter enemies, yet they both have recognized in this crisis that it’s in their own best interests to use diplomacy and come to the negotiating table rather than get involved in a protracted ground war that could destabilize the region even further.

I wish the NHL and the NHLPA could have that attitude.

The lockout has dragged into nearly it’s 10th week and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman revealed that the league loses between $18 million to $20 million per day, while the players are losing $8 million to $10 million per day.

That’s a lot of money gone on both sides.

This isn’t about who’s right or wrong, who’s offering the biggest concessions or the best deals, it’s just a statement of fact.

Both sides are losing, and not from a monetary standpoint.

The NHL generated $3.28 billion in 2011-2012 fiscal year, as the previous five-year collective bargaining agreement had a compound annual growth rate of 6.35 per cent.

Revenue grew every year under the last agreement as Bettman spent—or should I say lost—a considerable amount of money trying to keep non-hockey markets viable (Phoenix Coyotes anyone?) while chasing lucrative U.S broadcasting contracts.

All that goodwill that the league and players built with fans — the diehards and the newly initiated — has been dashed by the recent round of squabbling, and it will be interesting to see how many fans come crawling back once a deal is reached.

My hope is that the two sides eventually look past their respective priorities and see how much their quibbling has damaged their reputations and the game itself and get a deal done.

The eventual agreement may be a bitter pill for both sides to swallow, but the NHL and the NHLPA are alienating their revenue source — the fans —the longer this impasse drags out.

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