SUN Hockey Pool

Lockout? Call a parent

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

The NHL and its union are meeting today in an undisclosed city whose name is Toronto and wow, does the general public not care.

You could leave a trail of Timbits every few feet from the parking lot, through the lobby, right through to the wide-open door of the conference room and not one average Joe would breach the perimeter of that meeting room. Squirrels wouldn't even go in there.

No wonder. Sports is supposed to be about escape. Petty turf wars, endless bickering, relentless posturing ... raise your hand, you parents, if this sounds an awful lot like what you're getting at home.

Swap "you took my favourite sweater," for "I know you're hiding your luxury suite revenues," and you hit neatly upon what's so tiresome about the whole affair.

I'm a parent of three girls who do not share a $4-billion industry but instead work for $5 a week. We pick up their expenses, food, braces and clothing which just last week topped the $100-million mark.

Each and every parent is qualified to talk about the NHL lockout.

You think players are coddled? Try dealing with a teenage girl whose idea of hardship is a dead battery in the remote control.

You think owners are ego-driven? I have mirrors in my house collapsing from overwork.

You want to talk about every day on the verge of apocalypse? Did I mention the three daughters?

Here then, in the spirit of conciliation, we offer five parenting tips the NHL and NHLPA really could use.

1. "Nobody likes a tattletale." The recent downscaling of rhetoric by NHL bigwig Bill Daly is a nice departure from the stream of snotty e-mails that has spewed out of New York. A sign of progress? Maybe.

2. "Don't blame other people for your mistakes." Not once have the game's managers accepted responsibility for the salary spiral even though it was ushered in on the sweaty fingers of management. That would be a great start to the moral high ground the owners covet.

3. "Be careful about who you listen to." The fact that both sides have only been able to move the ball with neither Bob Goodenow nor Gary Bettman in the room speaks to the atrocious leadership performances of both men. The elevation of Trevor Linden and Harley Hotchkiss to the position of go-to-guys is an indictment of the leaders who have managed, if that's the word, the work stoppage so far.

4. "Work it out among yourselves." A phased-in cap or soft-cap is sellable to both sides. It's the only common ground and whether they go there today or two years from now, it's where the two sides will meet.

When Todd Bertuzzi goes postal on Steve Moore, the NHL says legislators have no place in the game. That is wholly inconsistent with the idea of having labour agencies declare an impasse so the owners could use replacement players.

While we're at it, the owners' notion that a new CBA should include an immediate salary rollback is unworkable. If keeping their doors closed makes as much economic sense as the owners claim it does, they should be able to comfortably live with pro-rated salaries for the remaining third of the season and leave the blood-letting till the summer.

5. "Now kiddies, try to share." The PA has tried to garner widespread support for revenue sharing. They like the notion of owners propping up other owners but refuse to operate as true partners. They don't get the flip side of their oft-stated argument that they are the game. Okay. If you're the game, you are also the management and you need to assume a measure of risk. If you're not, get off the "we are the game" thing.

It's tempting to give the players the highest marks for taking the high road and certainly theirs has been the only tangible movement in the dispute. That said, their absolute refusal to link revenues with salary is short-sighted and self-serving.

Look. There are roughly 6.2 billion people on the earth. Somewhere, one of them can be depended upon by both the league and its union to go over the books to the satisfaction of both parties. Find that person, share the risk and the rewards and get on it.

Otherwise the fan is about to give both sides something to cry about.


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