With all this talk about the National Hockey League (NHL) Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations between the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) and Owners I figured we should take a look at the two key players for each side.

Coming out of the Owners corner is Gary Bettman, the man that everyone loves to hate. Bettman is a graduate of both Cornell University and New York University School of Law where he earned a Juris Doctor, or doctorate of law, degree in 1977. After practicing law for a few years in New York City Bettman took a position in the marketing and legal departments of the National Basketball Association where he was instrumental in implementing a soft salary cap that has been used since 1983. On February 1st, 1993 Bettman became the NHL commissioner, a new position, replacing outgoing President Gil Stein. Since becoming commissioner Bettman has overseen the expansion into non-traditional markets and has led the owners into two lockouts, the first being in ’94-’95 and the second being in ’04-’05. The ’94-’95 lockout saw a loss of 36 regular season game as they only played 48 of the regular 84 games that season before going into the playoffs. The ’04-’05 lockout saw a complete loss of the season as it took until July 13, 2005 for a new agreement to be formed. It marked the first time since 1919 that the Stanley Cup was not awarded, and the first time that a complete season was lost in the North America due to a labor dispute.

Coming out of the NHLPA’s corner is Donald Fehr.  A graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a law degree Fehr has been the executive director for the NHLPA since December 18th, 2010. Before coming to the NHL Fehr was the executive director for the Major League Baseball’s Players Association (MLBPA). During his 24 years with the MLBPA Fehr was a part of one work stoppage, a player’s strike that saw the cancellation of the 1994 post season and a loss of over 900 games that spanned into the 1995 season. Since ending the strike with a new CBA Fehr was able to successfully negotiate a new agreement in 2006. It marked the first time that a new CBA was agreed upon without either a strike or lockout in thirty years.

One other point that I think is fair to point out is that regardless of if a game is played or not Bettman is set to collect his approximately $8-million dollar salary while Fehr will not receive a paycheck.

So now you have a brief history about the leaders of both sides with an emphasis on how they have been able to handle labor negotiations to help you decide whom to hate more if a lockout does indeed happen. Hopefully it will not come down to that and season will get started ON TIME!

– Michael Reed – Learn More About Michael