The owners won the last lockout, implementing a salary cap system they wanted and giving the players 57 percent of the revenue cut. They then spent the next seven years circumventing their own rules before attempting to cut the players’ share down to an even split, with justifications ranging from “hey, basketball did it!” to crying poverty for teams whose own foibles — bad contracts, arena deals and transactions — have caused their ills.
Frankly, the owners lost the trust of the fans and media that supported them in 2004-05. They also don’t have a clear ideological rallying call as they did back then, when “saving the game” wasn’t necessarily just a hyperbolic mantra but an viable goal.
So the players went into the CBA negotiation having already won the PR war — hell, the NHL couldn’t even successfully hang the death of realignment on them.