Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Don Breenan of Off The Posts at the Ottawa Sun,
Don’t you just want the nonsense to end and for them to reach an agreement?
Do you feel sorry for the owners who have made a habit of handing out ridiculous contracts?
Do you empathize with the players, who won the last standoff and are now being asked to take a step back so the game has a better chance of survival?
And if that’s just the way the owners are painting the picture, I don’t care. They’re the bosses. They take the risks. There’s no canvas or brush unless they pay for them. At the end of the day, if they wanted to shut it all down, they could always hire replacement players. The product might suck, but they could do it.
The NHLPA needs somebody to pay the freight, right?
Even saying that, I’ve said too much. I got sucked into the quagmire. I’ve stated an opinion, when this morning, it’s not what I wanted to do. All I know is that the Olympics are finally and thankfully over and I want to start looking forward to NHL training camps.
A Globe and Mail editorial,
National Hockey League teams, particularly in this country, enjoy a rather enviable arrangement with their fans. No matter how much they raise prices – for tickets, for merchandise, for concessions – supporters keep showing up, in some cases regardless of whether the teams win very often.
And yet those teams and their players continue to have a difficult time living up to their end of the bargain – which is simply playing the games they are scheduled to play. It was less than eight years ago that the NHL missed an entire season because of a labour dispute. With commissioner Gary Bettman threatening yet another lockout if there is no new collective agreement with the players’ association by Sept. 15, it now appears headed toward its third lengthy work stoppage in the past two decades.
With fewer teams facing financial difficulties than previously, the latest trouble appears to be caused less by urgent flaws in the NHL’s business model than by a dispute over how to divvy up the spoils of fans’ loyalty. Players now receive a 57-per-cent share of (consistently rising) revenues; team owners think it should be well below half.
Neither side seems to feel a great imperative to reach a compromise. The league and the union appear to have been emboldened by the response to the last lockout; if fans returned in droves then, they surely would again.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The current agreement succeeded in levelling the playing field and brought some semblance of parity. But the financial gulf between the big-market and small-market teams widened. This was mainly because NHL teams shared less than 6% of revenue. By contrast, NFL clubs share more than 60%.
In the last seven years, the NHL has increased its revenues by more than $3.2 billion.
“We know what they didn’t do, they didn’t share it between the big- and small-market teams,” said a league insider Saturday. “A big percentage went into the pockets of the big-market teams who are now refusing increased revenue sharing as a means to address the disparity.
“This is not a players’ issue anymore. This is a battle between the owners and it’s time for them to settle it once and for all between themselves.”
Well, what’s next?
Yesterday evening in Canada, the CBA news made the National News on CBC. I doubt we would ever see any national news station in the States dedicate almost four minutes to everyting NHL.
Even though it is yesterday’s news, Elliotte Friedman of CBC/HNIC makes an appearance with his views on the negotiations.
“Players want their fair share, and that’s what it’s all about and I think it’s very unfair if fans — until they understand and see everything what’s out there — that they suggest that the players are being greedy.”
“If we go back to the last collective bargaining agreement, the talk after that was, ‘Gee, the players really got beat on this one.’ So all of the sudden the owners have come back — I know they’re negotiating, they’re posturing and so on, but what they put out there, there’s no way the players can accept something like that.”
-Bobby Orr, via CBC.
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,
Despite Thursday’s proclamation from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that the league intends to impose a lockout if a new deal cannot be reached by Sept. 15, both sides expressed optimism Friday that a work stoppage can be avoided.
“I think it’s absolutely possible to get something done with no time missed,” said Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey, who spoke on behalf of the Players’ Association after a fourth consecutive day of negotiations.
Although the league’s statement Thursday left many fearing the possibility of another lengthy work stoppage, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly shared Hainsey’s optimism Friday.
“Look, I always try to be optimistic about these things,” Daly said. “I truly believe a deal can be done, but it will require a lot of work. We’ve got a lot of issues still open. We haven’t even heard from (the union) on the economic issues and we have a month, so it will require hard work and commitment on both sides. But certainly the NHL is committed and we hope the players are committed as well.”
from Jesse Spector of The Sporting News,
The NHLPA will present its counterproposal to the NHL on a new collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday. While Ron Hainsey was not about to say what will be in that offer, the Winnipeg Jets defenseman did express confidence on Friday that a CBA can be reached before an impending lockout on Sep. 15.
The fact that Hainsey, rather than Donald Fehr or his assistant Mathieu Schneider, spoke for the union after Friday’s negotiations was indicative of the fact that the NHL and NHLPA wrapped up their week with meetings about issues other than the core principals at the heart of a new CBA. The peripheral subject matter was expected after both sides sounded a contentious tone on Thursday about revenue sharing. With the players ready to present their proposal next week, it was wise to end this week on a friendlier note.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Remember when the NHL’s ice surfaces were all painted with the simpering, “Thank You Fans” message after the last lockout? Here’s hoping fans remember it and say, “thanks, but no thanks” this fall, especially if fall without hockey stretches into November or December, which is when everyone figures the real pressure points for the players and the owners will come into play.
Surely with so much wealth and so much optimism surrounding the game, the game itself deserves the best effort from its owners and its players.
Because if the owners and their players don’t respect what’s been built enough to get the deal done, then why should the fans bother?
And so a suggestion as the clock ticks towards the Sept. 15 end of the collective bargaining agreement: How about a pledge from the owners that they will bargain through the end of the agreement and into the coming season?
The players have already said they are willing to do so.
So how about a commitment from the owners that they will not lock out the players and a similar commitment from the players that they will not strike?
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Pay no attention. Ignore them.
That’s about the best advice anyone can give a hockey fan these days as the NHL and NHL Players Association start the verbal sparring of yet another round of collective bargaining negotiations that almost certainly will result in another work stoppage.
For the “crime” of loving the game too passionately and supporting the 30 NHL clubs too enthusiastically in the wake of the last lockout, NHL fans and customers will now pay the price of watching the league and players demonstrate once more they care more about the business of the game than the sport or the fans.
They’ll shut the game down, at least for a while, because the fans didn’t punish them emphatically for shutting it down the last time. And it appears nothing will stop that from happening.
added 6:58pm, from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Now that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman ripped the scales of optimism from too many eyes about an NHL lockout, the only question is how long will it be?Will it wipe out an entire season like the owners did in 2004-05 to get the salary-cap system they now say is so impossible to work under that another lockout is necessary? Or will the players and owners manage to get a new collective agreement in time to save the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, the event that kicks off the NHL’s U.S. television coverage and a mega-millions payout from NBC?
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,
Commissioner Gary Bettman made the NHL’s intent very clear, saying the league plans to lock the players out if a new collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached by September 15, when the current CBA is set to expire.
Bettman said this stance was re-iterated to the NHLPA during Thursday’s bargaining session.
“I re-confirmed something that the union has been told multiple times over the last 9 to 12 months. Namely, that the time is getting short and the owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another season so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon. And we believe there’s ample time for the parties to get together and make a deal and that’s what we’re going to be working towards,” Bettman said outside of league offices in midtown Manhattan.
The two sides, which have been engaged in labor talks for six weeks, have five weeks to broker a new deal and a significant divide on a number of issues.
“Our efforts are going to be devoted to making a deal but as I said, the owners are not going to operate under the economics of this collective bargaining agreement,” Bettman said.
added 4:31pm, from Jesse Spector of The Sporting News,
“We obviously have a wide gap to bridge on a whole host of issues, including the significance and importance of revenue sharing (between teams),” Bettman said after Thursday’s negotiating session for a new collective bargaining agreement.
Said Fehr: “Let me just put it this way: There’s a meaningful gulf there. I’ll just leave it at that for now.”
Fehr added one other piece of good news for the negotiations, that the NHLPA expects to present its economic platform on Tuesday in Toronto—exactly one month after the NHL’s initial CBA proposal. That good news also comes with bad news, namely that on Tuesday, the world will learn just how wide of a gap or meaningful of a gulf there is, depending whose terminology you want to use.
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,
With the issue of supplementary discipline a large part of the Wednesday’s agenda, talks grew increasingly contentious between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association during Day 2 of labor negotiations.
Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, wouldn’t go so far as to characterize the negotiations as “adversarial,” but he did concede that there were some tense moments between the two camps.
“At times there have been heated exchanges,” Schneider said. “There’s definitely strong opinions on both sides, especially when it comes to supplementary discipline, but I wouldn’t describe it as adversarial. Not at all.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly similarly downplayed the tension and described the discussions as “lively.”
“I wouldn’t characterize it as tense, I really wouldn’t,” Daly said.
Also, the video version of today’s talks can be watched below, with Bill Daly and Mathieu Schneider commenting…
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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.
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