One thing that has been running around in my head lately is the idea that the owners are clearly a stronger bargaining group as a collective unit than they are individually. I don't think the same can be said for the players, and perhaps it's time to decertify. For real.
I liken pro athletes in "big-time" pro sports to movie stars. The current system of allowing the owners to collectively bargain seems similar to the old studio system of the 20's that eventually got struck down by the supreme court for being unfair. When you look at the salaries movie stars make representing themselves individually, you see that Tom Cruise made $75 million dollars last year. Now I understand that the economics and relationship of one star to the success of one movie is very different than that of one hockey player to one team, but still, does anybody really believe if the studios were allowed to collectively bargain with actors for the contracts of the top stars, that he would have made anything close to that? And trust me, as a former member of Hollywood TV and Film unions, the rank-and-file do VERY well in that situation as well.
Thus, perhaps the union should decertify and force the owners to negotiate with each player one at a time. I think it's pretty clear that the owners have REPEATEDLY proven they cannot control themselves (see Parise, Zach and Suter, Ryan) even within a salary cap, so the thought that they'd be able to control themselves in a truly free market seems downright ludicrous.
So what does the union have to lose?
Here's a quote from an article that discussed decertifying the NHL and why it wouldn't be such a powerful bargaining tool:
Things, though, changed in 2011 when the NFL Union was dissolved and the players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league to block the lockout. The Court of Appeal ruled that despite the Union dissolving itself, the CBA still protected the NFL from the antitrust lawsuit. That was a game changer for leagues.
As a result, antitrust litigation and decertification has become a far less effective tool for players in CBA negotiations. That means it’s highly unlikely that NHL players will decertify the Union. So don’t expect to see it.
But does that mean that mean they still could require players to play under a salary cap without a ratified CBA? Does that mean the owners could collude on the price of talent? It seems like it's not as useful a bargaining chip, but it could still be a useful tool if player really were trying to bargain for themselves. (some knowledge on how something like that works would be useful here as I clearly have none).
There would of course be legitimate concern that the big salaries of the top stars would be paid out of the pockets of 4th line grinders, but my experience with the Hollywood system tells me that wouldn't necessary have to happen (it certainly could, but when I worked in Hollywood, I worked with Grips - which are essentially carpenters who have had specific on-the-job training that relates to rigging for cameras, sets and lighting - who made over $300,000 a year). But the upside is most likely that, if the players were serious about following through with decertification, the owners would actually be terrified by the free-market alternative and would likely come back with a much more equitable CBA proposal... or they'd pay the next Zach Parise WAY more than a salary capped player would earn.
I'm likely not seeing some important parts to this story, what does everyone think?