Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the CP at TSN,
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association are scheduled to kick off formal talks on a new collective bargaining agreement in New York on Friday, according to multiple sources.
Anxious fans have been waiting months for the sides to open negotiations on a deal that is set to expire Sept. 15. Despite the fact a season was lost the last time they went to the bargaining table, there has been a slight hint of optimism in the air at the NHLPA’s executive board meetings this week.
“We have a few months ahead here to reach a deal and that’s our goal,” New York Islanders star John Tavares said Tuesday.
In all, the union has gathered 53 players together for three days of comprehensive meetings before talks open. They were split into three breakout groups on Tuesday afternoon and combed over a number of topics expected to be raised during CBA discussions—everything from desired changes to the current system to player safety and on-ice issues.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports,
This is the culmination of two years of preparation for Don Fehr and the NHL Players’ Association – the rewriting of their constitution, the selection of Fehr as executive director, the rebuilding of the organization, the education of both the staff and players, the reuniting of the union.
The NHLPA is holding executive board meetings Monday through Wednesday in Chicago, its last major gathering before labor talks. The staff and about 50 players will discuss issues and strategy, then announce their negotiating committee.
It’s time to get down to business. Talks could begin as soon as this week.
Expect to hear optimism that a deal can be reached before the collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15, contrasting with the pessimism many feel about the 2012-13 season opening on time.
As far as the players are concerned, this is the starting point: They made enormous concessions after the lockout of 2004-05 – a salary cap, a 24-percent pay cut and more – and the game has grown from a $2.1-billion business into a $3.3-billion business. Why mess it up?
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
It is common knowledge that the league has had to bail out the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils, but there are several other teams either in, or close to, serious red ink. The successful owners are tired of hearing about the struggles of the weak and sick of bailouts.
It’s time to get the stray ducks in line, they say.
To that point, there is a movement to go after the minimum. Some clubs would like it abolished outright. Weaker clubs say they don’t care how much the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers spend so long as they aren’t trapped by a minimum that, they believe, forces them to spend on players they’d rather not take on and can be a severe cramp on rebuilding.
They want the latitude baseball teams have. Sell off the big assets for what you can get and start over with a more sensible economic model for the franchise.
A lowered minimum – let alone no minimum at all – is sure to fire up the players, now being led by a hard-nosed negotiator who came over from baseball, Donald Fehr.
We’ve read and heard about where some of the big names will land when all is said and done, so let’s read your opinion on some of the big names.
What team will sign Zach Parise?
How about Ryan Suter, will he stay with Nashville or sign elsewhere?
Rich Nash is on the trading block by request, where does he go and a pat on the back if you mention the return for Nash.
Same goes for Roberto Luongo, what team will trade for Luongo and what will they give up?
Will the LA Kings keep Jonathan Bernier until they sign Quick long-term? If not, where will Bernier be come late September?
Bonus question, will the new CBA be in place to start the season on time?
Fee free to mention other players as well but do include where they will end up and what will it take to get him.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province at the Leader-Post,
On the ice, the story wasn’t much cheerier. The game continued to trend back towards the dead-puck era. Goals were down. Entertainment value was down. True, the first round of the playoffs provided some memorable hockey, as it generally does. But the postseason also devolved from that point and by the time the final rolled around, few fans outside Los Angeles and New Jersey were engaged in the game’s marquee event.
Coming out of the last lockout, the NHL seemed to recapture its lost glory and the three-season stretch from ‘07-‘08 to ‘09-‘10 produced breath-taking hockey, a new generation of stars and three incredibly worthy Stanley Cup champions in the Red Wings, Penguins and Blackhawks.
This season? Well, we can debate the merits of the newly crowned L.A. Kings, but the fact remains the NHL’s best speed-and-skill teams were eliminated long before the Cup final, and that’s not a healthy direction for the league.
So where does that leave us? Well, we hate to bring more happy news but the game is headed for its fourth work stoppage since ‘91, a development that will reopen a number of old sores between the NHLPA and the league as it further alienates a restless fan base.
“Maybe I’m an eternal optimist on this stuff, but I think there will be no time missed.” I hope we’ve learned from our last go-round. We always try to improve it, but I think the [NHL] product is pretty good.”
-Peter Chiarelli, GM of the Boston Bruins on a possible lockout. More from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.
from Andrew Podnieks of IIHF.com, BARCELONA –
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr spoke to the Hockey Forum crowd this afternoon and sounded nothing but enthusiastic about the possibility to grow the game in Europe and around the world – and he indicated NHL players have every desire to be a part of such a plan.
“The first reason I took this job,” Fehr began, “was that, because of some restructuring in the NHLPA, players asked me to help them with various projects. I did that for a year.
“I really liked the players but there was another reason. There is an enormous opportunity in this sport internationally that doesn’t exist in other sports. The NFL is primarily watched in the U.S. Basketball has made tremendous inroads abroad but is still primarily U.S. Major League Baseball is American except for some presence in Japan.
“Hockey is different. It has an audience in North America and across Europe. There is an opportunity to create cross-Atlantic events of various sorts that could create audiences on both sides. I don’t know of another sport that can do that. That’s pretty exciting to me.
“All things being equal, the players tell me that they want to play the best in the world,” Fehr said, starting to bring the NHL players into the discussion.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
They were separated by roughly 40 feet Wednesday for most of Gary Bettman’s state of the union address, the NHL commissioner at the podium, addressing a room full of reporters, NHL players association director Donald Fehr at the back of the room, listening carefully.
It remains to be seen if the divide between the two men grows greater in the weeks and months ahead.
Bettman confirmed that at long last, the NHL and the players association have exchanged dates to begin the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. Fehr said not to read too much into that development, however, because it was simply “due course” stuff.
Officially, the CBA expires on Sept. 15 and both Bettman and Fehr circled carefully around the issue of how the process might unfold.
Some believe that the two sides are inevitably on a collision course, seven years after they lost a full season (2004-05) to a lockout.
But Bettman brushed aside that suggestion, on the grounds that the two sides have not had “a substantive discussion” on what they may be looking for in collective bargaining, so to suggest that they are at loggerheads already would be premature.
added 8:48pm, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN with his story on the CBA talks…
from Maury Brown at Forbes,
All told, just 11 clubs were shown making an operating profit, according to the most recent valuations of the NHL. The “haves” fall into clear categories that make the challenges all the more daunting for the league: the Canadian clubs, and those with long, storied histories in large markets such as the Bruins, Red Wins, and Blackhawks.
In the meantime, the average value of a club in the NHL grew 5 percent to $240 million. But, concerns about the league salary cap which is 57 percent of league revenue, is creating problems across the league in places like Columbus, Tampa Bay, and Phoenix.
All of this sits against the backdrop of labor negotiations. With former MLBPA Exec. Dir. Donald Fehr now leading the union for the NHL’s players, there is deep concern that we are on the cusp of a work stoppage.
Having Fehr lead the players, in and of itself should not be a concern. What should be a concern is the model upon which the NHL is standing.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
With the left-wing parties in both the U.S. and Canada now pushing the politics of class warfare and division with some apparent success, it may be interesting to see if this has any impact, even though the salaries made by both parties in this struggle will exceed the average worker by a goodly margin.
To be sure the same lame duck U.S. franchises the last lockout was supposed to fix, the likes of Florida, Nashville, the Islanders and the others that are always on the receiving end of what little revenue sharing there is, are still the laggards. The league will somehow bring this up again but the main part of their argument is going to have to centre on how NHL players need to give them the same concessions the NBA and NFL players Associations did in their recent agreements. Not sure that’s going to resonate the same in this country as ‘let’s save the Flames, Oilers and Senators’ did last time but there will be some who will argue hockey players don’t deserve any more than the other two groups.
But with U.S. television ratings on the climb and revenues going up every year, to the point where the cap this year before the old CBA expires is going to be in the $70 million U.S. ballpark, it’s going to be pretty hard to cry poor and be believed.
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