Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
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.
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.
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