As we enter the final week of 2012, National Hockey League fans are already peering into 2013 and seeing few signs of the lockout between the league's owners and players coming to a conclusion anytime soon. Millions of puck heads from Vancouver to Boston are holding out hope for a settlement that will have their favorite teams back on the ice in time to save the season. Sadly however, the further along the talks have proceeded, the more it appears the two sides are drifting further apart.
What went wrong?
There are plenty of opinions in the sporting media about which side is at fault. The league is blamed for putting teams in cities that can't or won't support them. The players refuse to accept the fact that they don't have the type of national television contract or the type of exposure that the NFL or Major League Baseball receives to finance the multi-million dollar salaries they believe they deserve.
Regardless of how, or to whom, blame is assigned, there is a lesson here for everyone when it comes to negotiating. Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Even the most seasoned negotiator never gets everything they want in a deal. Whether you’re buying a car or trying to create multi-million dollar labor agreements, you must be willing to bargain and compromise. The key is to be prepared and to know exactly what your goals are in the negotiation. Determine ahead of time what you would be willing to sacrifice to achieve those goals. And try to have a "Plan B" in mind rather than forcing yourself, or the other party, into ultimatums which almost always lead to a breakdown of the deal.
The NHL owners and their players are learning the hard way when you let hard line negotiating tactics get in the way of compromise. During this lockout, reports estimate that the league has lost over half a billion dollars in revenue. That is money that neither the league, nor their union, will ever have a chance to recoup.
What deal would you offer to bring the NHL and the players together?