Gary Bettman was appointed commissioner on February 1st 1993. One of his primary tasks was to end labour disputes, along with growing the NHL in "non-traditional" markets and completing the expansion of the NHL to 30 teams.
He has failed the labour dispute tenet in an epic way.
Since the beginning of his tenure, he has never successfully negotiated a CBA. Not once. He has tried three times and three times it has ended in lockouts.
Now, if one of my main tasks in my day job was to negotiate something and I had failed every time, I would have had my ass fired.
The players are going to lose in this dispute, there is no doubt. The 3rd and 4th line players who earn not much more than league minimum are going to suffer. People who work in and around the rinks are losing their jobs (and have been since day 3 of this lockout) and it is those people who I feel desperately sorry for.
I want the lockout to continue.
The reason why is this:
In 20 years, there have been three lockouts - 2 partial seasons lost (so far) and one complete season. As I stated before, the CBA has not been negotiated successfully since Bettman's hire. I have no reason to believe that will change in the near future, so enjoy 2020's negotiations, because that will end in a lockout too. As will 2027 and so on.
It would appear that the lockout is the first resort and not the last one. How is that stopped? Firing Bettman might be a step in the right direction, but there's no guarantee that'll happen any time soon.
Alternatively, hit the owners punitively where it hurts the most - the wallet. Make it so financially painful, they won't even consider a lockout again.
As it stands, most fans (myself included) will probably purchase their GCL as soon as a deal is reached. We will moan about ownership and yet, still go to games, watch them, spend time on message boards discussing them and generally go about our lives.
The owners will thank us for being great fans and it will go back to usual. Attendance and viewing figures might be down a little for the first season, but things will pick up and the owners know it. Give it 12 months and all will be back to normal.
What if it wasn't? What if the hardcore fans didn't spend their hard-earned cash on souvenirs, memorabilia, overpriced beer and parking? What if the NHL saw their precious HRR halve? What if a team or two went bust? What if NBC said: "Hey, why did you negotiate that deal with us where you only pay us a tiny bit of money in the event of a lockout? You did that on purpose, didn't you? Fuck you, we're terminating our deal."
What if fans stayed away from games? If attendance dwindled to about half and stayed that way?
We are halfway through this lockout, I have given up on the season and would gladly follow this through if it meant that owners would think twice before imposing a lockout on the next CBA.