Kukla's Korner Hockey
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Neither Fehr nor Bettman would discuss what each felt were the major issues. Bettman said he only hopes they can reach an agreement quickly once the talks begin.
“My hope is that we can reason together and that collective bargaining will be painless and quiet and quick,” Bettman said following an NHL board of governors meetinf. “That would serve everyone’s best interest.”
Union sources say a quick resolution is possible but only if the players present a united front to the owners. That might be enough to convince the owners to avoid a lockout, which could severely damage a league that is still recovering in some markets from the season-long lockout in 2004-05.
The two biggest issues involve revenue sharing. The owners want to reduce the players’ take of hockey-related revenue from the current 57 per cent to less than 50 to mirror the agreements recently reached in the NFL and NBA. The players want the owners to radically change their system for sharing revenues between richer and poorer teams and increase the amount of shared revenue.
Fehr said just because the NBA and NFL players agreed to reduce their overall share of league revenue it does not mean the NHL players will follow suit.
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
The Hockey News: In regard to realignment, many have focused on your rejection of the league’s plans, but fewer have focused on the league’s insistence of a hard deadline, which is ultimately what caused your rejection. This isn’t the first instance the league has been aggressive with the PA during the current CBA, is it?
Donald Fehr: The league went into their owners meeting, they came out with a realignment plan, and obviously it required the players’ consent. We got into the details on it, we found out the background and information and there were two significant issues from the players’ standpoint: one was assurances as to what the travel would be, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to get those assurances. The league was not in the position even to give us a drafted schedule, which makes any analysis very difficult.
The second issue was access to the playoffs, where in the proposed seven-team divisions you’d have a permanent advantage in terms of access, because you’d only have to beat three teams to qualify, whereas in the eight team divisions you’d have to beat four. The players looked at it, but we weren’t in a position to consent. Whether the deadline was aggressive or not, I don’t really know. All I can say is that we offered – and if the league wants to, we’d be willing now – to meet with them to discuss these issues and see if a resolution could be found. So far, that’s not something they’ve indicated they’re prepared to do.
THN: Has the PA looked at making a counter-proposal for realignment, something that would address the concerns you have regarding travel and competitive advantage? Or do you sit back and wait for the league to drive the bus on that issue?
continued with more hot topics discussed…
We can only hope that both sides understand the angst of hockey fans that worry more about wins, losses, goals and assists, than they do about Hockey Related Revenue, escrow and the Salary Cap.
Please, Don. Please, Gary….Not Again.
-John Shannon of Sportsnet, where you can read more on this topic.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The NHL has gone out of its way to manufacture the perception of a crisis with its unilateral decision to abandon realignment for next year while simultaneously launching an attack on the NHLPA for the union’s refusal to approve the plan without receiving the information it is entitled to.
What is clear though, after the league pulled the plug, is the reflex of so many within the media as well as the NHL’s fan base to throw the first stones at labor regardless of the facts.
What employee, given the contractual right to approve changes in working conditions, would simply waive it under pressure from his or her employer to meet an artificially imposed deadline?
Would you? Really?
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• After all that money Terry Pegula pumped into the Buffalo Sabres, shouldn’t he have expected a playoff team, if not a contender? The Sabres have looked lost in the first half of the NHL season.
• Congratulations, Donald Fehr. In your first act of significance since taking over the National Hockey League Players’ Association, you have entered the world of Bob Goodenow smallness. And that’s not an easy or comfortable place to find. The very fact the NHLPA has kiboshed the NHL’s proposal for realignment for what are ostensibly lame issues is a shot unrelated to the matter of realignment here. It’s a scream that the bad old days of NHL-NHLPA war are back….
• All-star voting in every sport brings with it debate each and every season. But for two very good reasons, the NHL should look at putting an end to this age-old argument. Now that the NHL has changed the all-star format to a player draft — where captains from each team wind up picking their rosters — having all-star starters is truly moot. But considering what happened this season in Ottawa, with four of the six starters being voted in by the home team, a noble gesture of sorts — it has become less meaningless than ever before….
a few more hockey notes…
Bill Daly joined the gentlemen from Sportsnet tonight.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
In many ways, the dispute over realignment can be seen as the first shot across the bow of labour negotiations that will become a fixture on the 2012 NHL calendar. The current collective agreement between players and owners is set to expire in September, and the belief is that both sides are unhappy with some of its aspects. The players are dissatisfied with how the escrow process works, and the owners likely will look to chop the players’ percentage of revenue from current levels (57 per cent) to what NBA players settled for in their new agreement (50 per cent).
Realignment just looks like the tip of the negotiating iceberg, and the NHLPA will head into these negotiations with Donald Fehr, the former Major League Baseball union chief, as its (relatively new) executive director.
added 11:43pm, from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Bottom line is that this move allows new executive director Fehr to flex his muscles early in the process on an issue that at the end of the day is relatively innocuous in terms of the players’ bottom line. They still get paid the same regardless of how many charter flights they take.
Fehr’s players have been getting to know him through meetings and conferences calls but now they get to see him in action, and even if they don’t care or even if they disagree with the decision to put the kibosh on realignment, they will see a leader not prepared to let anything slide by.
This move proves everything is on the table and nothing is free.
If there is one disturbing element of this, it’s that by drawing a line in the sand this early on and over an issue that in many ways was a big win for the league and its fans, could set an early tone of discord.
Toronto (January 6, 2012) – National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Director Don Fehr issued the following statement this evening regarding the League’s realignment proposal:
“On the evening of December 5, 2011, the NHL informed the NHLPA that they proposed to put in place a four-conference format beginning with the 2012-13 season. As realignment affects Players’ terms and conditions of employment, the CBA requires the League to obtain the NHLPA’s consent before implementation. Over the last month, we have had several discussions with the League and extensive dialogue with Players, most recently on an Executive Board conference call on January 1. Two substantial Player concerns emerged: (1) whether the new structure would result in increased and more onerous travel; and (2) the disparity in chances of making the playoffs between the smaller and larger divisions.
added 8:09pm, Make sure to check out the numerous updated being made below…
NEW YORK (January 6, 2012) - The National Hockey League announced today that it will not move forward with implementation of the Realignment Plan and modified Playoff Format recently approved by the NHL Board of Governors for the 2012-13 NHL season because the NHLPA has refused to provide its consent.
“It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably refused to approve a Plan that an overwhelming majority of our Clubs voted to support, and that has received such widespread support from our fans and other members of the hockey community, including Players,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “We have now spent the better part of four weeks attempting to satisfy the NHLPA’s purported concerns with the Plan with no success.
Because we have already been forced to delay, and as a result are already late in beginning the process of preparing next season’s schedule, we have no choice but to abandon our intention to implement the Realignment Plan and modified Playoff Format for next season.”
“We believe the Union acted unreasonably in violation of the League’s rights. We intend to evaluate all of our available legal options and to pursue adequate remedies, as appropriate.”
As a result of the League’s decision today, the NHL will maintain its current alignment and Playoff Format for the 2012-13 season.
added 7:59pm, adding some rapid reaction from around the league to this below, so check back on a regular basis.
from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,
...Fehr will also understand the weaknesses in a large-market ownership that played loyal last time only to get whacked by certain provisions in the collective agreement. He has seen the $2.1-billion (U.S.) in U.S. TV money and other revenue streams grow. Which could make him a man to dispassionately parlay with on issues – so long as he’s able to ride the membership tiger.
Owners are preparing lots of giveback demands to rile players and test Fehr’s mettle. There will be dark days when TSN analyst Bob McKenzie shrugs his shoulders and says, “Who knows?” But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman knows he has no mulligan with the public or media this time. He must get this collective agreement done on time or risk losing the 24/7 HBO and Winter Classic momentum – and tarnishing his own reputation.
For all these reasons and more, Usual Suspects says take it to the bank: There will be a collective agreement before its time in 2012.
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.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com