Late last week, when the CBA negotiations went south, I started to wonder whether Gary Bettman, Bill Daly or Donald Fehr would be getting paid if a deal isn't reached.
After all, why should they? Their job right now is to reach an agreement by a deadline, and they are failing. There aren't too many jobs out there that reward failure.
Earlier today, it was reported that all three plan on declining their salaries in such an event.
I don't feel any better.
At first, it's nice to know that the ramifications of a lockout will directly impact their lives—no different than the players and owners.
But then, you start to think about who these people are. They are public-perception manipulators and story spinners—and they're damn good at it.
For Donald Fehr, there was really no choice. Bob Goodenow did it in 2004-05, and his whole approach to this negotiation has been "one with the players." If they aren't earning a salary, neither can he.
Once Fehr's decision was made, so was Bettman and Daly's. The public already tends to favor the NHLPA and despise Bettman. Choosing to get paid would only solidify those views further.
You've then got to wonder how much one year without income will actually affect these guys. As shown by Sports Business Daily, Bettman earned a salary of $7.1 million...in 2008. He has now been the NHL Commissioner for 18 years.
Unless he's got some serious issues that he's managed to keep away from the media, he has a healthy bank account and will easily survive a year (or part of a year) without salary. Furthermore, if locking out the players does give the owners what they want, as it did in 2004-05, Bettman will be in store for another raise.
While Fehr and Daly don't earn as much as Bettman, they are very well-off individuals as well.
So, when seeing this news, don't be so fast to dust off the old hockey jersey for an Oct. 11 start. Keep in mind, these are likely no more than tactical moves in this chess game, and a smaller paycheck is merely a sacrificial pawn to increase the chance of victory.