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updated: 7/26/2012 8:22 PM

NHL fight with players different this time

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There is one very good reason to think the NHL won't suffer through another work stoppage.

It's that the NHL can't survive another work stoppage.

In a wretched economy with discretionary income at a premium, the last thing NHL teams need is to go away for a year or even a few months, and one would hope they learned from the last time they spent an entire season away from their fan base.

No, the owners and players will figure out a way to play hockey, despite a stunning first proposal from the owners two weeks ago that included a 22-percent salary rollback.

Players boss Don Fehr has wisely chosen to react with calm to a wild opening salvo, knowing better than anyone that this is not a fight between players and owners.

As is nearly always the case with collective bargaining in sports, this is a battle between owners. They want the players to police the owners and save them from temptation, to save them from themselves.

The Have-Nots want to lower the cap -- and the boom -- on the Haves, who would prefer the opportunity to spend liberally.

If this sounds to you like the Yankees vs. the Brewers of the early '90s -- when it was George Steinbrenner vs. Bud Selig -- you couldn't be more correct.

There are NHL teams that can offer players $110 million deals, and teams that have to trade their stars because they know they can't re-sign or build around them.

So you have clubs that want to operate without a cap, who can still turn a profit spending more, and teams that want to operate without a floor, guaranteeing them profits -- and losses only on the ice.

None of this is new to Don Fehr. He has seen baseball owners try to put the players in the middle of their spat, and he has seen work stoppages that served only to damage the sport.

He's not likely to let either occur in this case.

Baseball learned its lesson and it has labor peace because the owners couldn't stomach another lost World Series. They have caved and caved and caved again.

You would think the NHL has learned an equally harsh lesson, even if the owners got much of what they wanted last time around.

Fehr will not be a party to that. He is taking his time putting together a counterproposal and is in no rush to get something into the hands of the owners.

Perhaps the best result for the players right now is getting the owners to play another year under the current CBA, something Fehr said this week the players could accept.

That would involve no givebacks, no lost paychecks and no games taken off the schedule, while the sides continue to negotiate.

MLB did this a few times, and it may be an option for the NHL if the two sides are far apart.

What will be new for NHL owners is finding an NHLPA that isn't corrupt, incompetent or in business simply to rubber stamp the owners' proposals.

The sooner they figure that out, the sooner the owners will understand there's a new sheriff in town.

And the sooner the real negotiations can begin.

Call me maybe

There may have been a communications mix-up when the Bulls signed Marco Belinelli, who said, "I can play with a star like Derrick Rose. I think this is the best opportunity for me to go out and try to win a championship."

Seems the Bulls may not have told Belinelli that Rose is out and so are the Bulls.

The good cause

K's for Kids Club, a not-for-profit corporation that takes underprivileged children to Cubs games, will hold its inaugural "Ks For Kids Golf Outing" Aug. 11 at Countryside Golf Club in Mundelein.

The group was formed in honor of the late Tom Bujnowski, a teacher, coach and Cubs fan who began bringing "K" signs to the bleachers in May 1998, on the day Kerry Wood fanned 20.

Each year, the group takes 40-50 needy children from a different organization in the Chicago area to a Cubs game.

For more info, visit

The quote

To from Mark Prior, who may soon get a call-up by the Red Sox: "The older I've gotten, my perspective of success and failure has changed. People want to make it a black-and-white thing, but you can't always do that. Now, it's about getting a hitter out, getting out of a (jam), those little victories."

Best tweet

From @AlexKaseberg: "Sadly, the inventor of the treadmill, William Staub, passed at 96. His memorial service will be 20 minutes long, but will seem like an hour."

Hoop dreams

ABC's Jimmy Kimmel: "At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, they handed out 100,000 condoms. This year it's 150,000. That's 100,000 for the U.S. basketball team and 50,000 for everyone else."

And finally

NBC's Jimmy Fallon, on the Knicks letting Jeremy Lin join the Houston Rockets: "If that weren't bad enough, the Knicks actually had Jason Kidd drive him to the airport."

•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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