Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
Don Fehr has spent much of the past year delivering his warning to the NHL’s 700 players: Prepare yourselves, a storm is brewing….
Fehr says bargaining with the NHL should begin over the next few weeks and while he is cryptic about what he is telling players about the coming labour battle — “I’m acquainting the players with what I think the issues are likely to be,” is how he puts it — others are more plain-spoken about what’s being said.
“His message to players is that NHL owners are going to come at us with Ginsu knives on the end of samurai swords,” says Mike Liut, the former NHL goalie who is now a player agent. “The owners are going to come hard and if the players don’t put their hands up, they will end up decapitated.”...
Fehr says Bettman enters negotiations on a confident footing. In most labour impasses, workers risk wages and job security, while management risks revenue and market share, Fehr says.
“If (General Motors) shuts down, people buy Fords,” he says. “They don’t all come back.”
But Fehr says Bettman was quoted at a recent sports business conference saying that the NHL’s revenue was the same the season after the 2004-05 lockout as it was the season before.
“The problem is the (NHL) owners believe they have a complete monopoly, so they don’t believe they lose market share at all (and) it doesn’t matter how long they shut down the business,” Fehr says.
Raffi Torres and the National Hockey League Players’ Association are appealing the 25-game suspension that was given to the Phoenix Coyotes forward last month.
Torres was given the punishment by the league on Apr. 21 after his late hit to the head of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa during Game 3 of their first-round series.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The Nhl Players’ Association already has acknowledged informally its obligation to change the culture in hockey that allows, if not promotes, the predatory head-hunting that has damaged the opening weeks of the Stanley Cup playoffs and portions of the past few regular seasons.
“As players, we’ve already talked about our responsibility to become more involved in the entire issue, and that’s going to begin with talks about our responsibility to each other when we’re on the ice competing,” the Rangers’ Brad Richards, who is held in utmost regard throughout the league, told Slap Shots on Friday.
“We’re definitely going to want to have more of a role in the supplementary discipline process going forward in the next [collective bargaining] agreement, but when it comes to it, the league can police it all it wants but we have a responsibility to each other as hockey players to stop this head-hunting.
continued plus does Brooks fire a verbal shot at Brian Burke?
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Other than what would best be described as idle chat and exchange of pleasantries (probably forced), there has been no substantive talk between the NHL and its Players Association toward forging a new collective bargaining agreement. Absent a new deal prior to September’s training camps, the league will implement its third lockout in less than 20 years.
Attention both sides, you do realize fans are watching this, probably more than you think they are. If another lockout comes about, some will be pointing to this idle time and wondering why talks didn’t start earlier.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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