When I was growing up, my mom worked for the telephone company. She was part of the union. I remember her going on the picket line a few times and I asked her why. She told me that she wanted to be provided with a better wage and health benefits that would cover us better. The battle was between the union and the company and there was no blurring of lines.
The NHL is a league made up of teams who hire players to play. The players have a union that negotiate on their behalf. That’s where my comparison stops. Because sometimes the league and union work together for the league’s best interest instead of the players.
Case in point, this article by Ken McDonald of the Hockey News in 2016.
The NHLPA didn’t want to get rid of “enforcers” because it would mean some players would lose their jobs. The argument didn’t make sense as the amount of jobs didn’t go down and the NHLPA would still get all of their dues. The NHLPA could have helped to make the working environment safer but chose to keep things status quo.
The NHLPA confuses me because they defend their members who have caused injuries to other NHLPA members. You would think that with the growing amount of research showing the effects of concussions, that the NHLPA would put protecting their members from injury over defending other members from their actions. The NHLPA has turned down a long term study of player health based on the fact the NHLPA fear the players in the study might be deemed unemployable if they received too many concussions. Talk about seeing people as a product instead of humans with real health issues.
A lot of people hate the owners because of their treatment of players, but the owners have been putting in more rules to try and protect their assets. The NHLPA has to approve these rules as well. Imagine a union rejecting rules set out to protect their own members. Daniel Carcillo has been a loud voice against the NHLPA and their lack of action when it comes to player safety and transition out of hockey.
I admit that I supported the owners in the last work stoppage. I find it easier to understand the owner’s point of view when it comes to their business. The NHLPA is trying to play both sides when it comes to “protecting players”.
Tom Wilson’s suspension is a great example of the two-faced role of the NHLPA. Wilson’s fourth suspension was for 20 games after blind-siding another player. Repeat offender….nasty hit. NHLPA decides to appeal. Oskar Sundqvist must love his union.
When Elias Pettersson got thrown down by Mike Matheson, people were blaming other Canucks, they were blaming the league, they were blaming the refs, and a small few were blaming Matheson. But Matheson’s actions are only allowed because the NHLPA continues to uphold an atmosphere that violence against other players, while unfortunate, is acceptable and defensible.
The NHL could create a fast paced, exciting brand of hockey along with the league. The NHL has created rules to provide increased player safety, which the Department of Player Safety needs to follow through with. The NHLPA could help create this new NHL, but it doesn’t want to.