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Category: NHLPA

Will The Owners Share?

from Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star,

An Ottawa-based economic think tank has a solution to the National Hockey League’s labour headaches that fans of small-market teams will love, but owners of the league’s cash cows will probably loathe — competitive balance through extensive revenue sharing.

With the league’s collective bargaining agreement set to expire Sept. 15, owners have proposed a new deal that includes trimming the players’ share of revenue from 57 per cent to 46 per cent. While that approach might ensure even money-losing franchises would break even, Glen Hodgson of the Conference Board of Canada says players would never accept it.

And neither would fans.

“The (average) fan says put some revenue sharing options on the table as a way to get this done,” says Hodgson, the Conference Board’s senior vice president and chief economist. “(But) that means rich teams are going to have to give up some money.”


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Afternoon Line

I’ve been told since before the NFL lockout that the NHL would have big problems this time around.

I’ve mentioned here a convention in D.C. last summer when 600 sports lawyers, agents, etc., where the union heads and management reps in labor negotiations of the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB were almost all in attendance and spoke at length, took questions.

It was clear that the NHL was more likely to lose games, or a season with a lockout than the NFL. So I expect bad news, because that’s how the owners want it, rather than good news.

These labor wars get set up YEARS in advance. The public is told “It’s not so bad. It’ll get worked out,” even when people on the inside know that they are planning for it NOT to work out and just want to delay the date when they start taking flack for missing games.

I’d be glad to be wrong on the NHL. But the way to bet is that it’s worse than you think it is.

-Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell via Capitals Insider.


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Owners In Control

from Patrick Rishe at Forbes,

So how in the name of Gordie Howe and Guy Lafleur can NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr expect that his players will be able to get anything better than 50% of league revenues in their current negotiations?

Comparisons of Nielsen Ratings and League Revenues across sports show that the NHL is still less popular relative to the NFL and NBA.  The NHL earned $3.2 billion in 2011-12, or nearly $600 million less than the last full NBA season ($3.8 billion for the 2010-11 season), and roughly 3 times less than the NFL’s $9.4 billion.

Furthermore, NHL owners proved during the 2004-05 lockout that they are prepared to show considerable resolve.  Arguably, they are in a better position to do so now because of the massive $200 million per year TV deal with NBC that started last year.

Translation?  If athletes from an astronomically popular sport (NFL) and athletes from a popular sport enjoying a renaissance of interest (NBA) are losing revenue share to their owners, then the odds that NHL players will avoid a similar fate are about as likely as a 100-degree day during hockey season in Winnipeg, eh.


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The Lockout Commissioner

from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,

You get the feeling that Gary Bettman loves his lockouts. This is Bettman’s thing. Shut down the league. Grind the players to powder. Go back to the owners and get his own salary bumped up for having satisfied the owners’ greed.

Then come back five or 10 years later and say that the salary system he shut down the league to get is unworkable, so he has to shut it down again. Why? Because he wants to. Because he can.

Last time round, it seemed like the owners had a case. We were on the fence, until the latter stages of the lockout, when Bettman morphed into Richard M. Nixon.

This time, it is Bettman who has presented an entirely irrational plan, one the NHLPA would be mad to accept — and it is PA executive director Donald Fehr who responded with a response so rational, so well thought out, that we actually hoped Bettman might accept it, at least as a starting point for a new approach.




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Afternoon Line

“If we are partners, do we have joint control?”  Do we get to have an equal say on how the marketing is done, how the promotion is done, where the money is invested, where the franchises are located? Do we have an equal say on when teams are sold, where the money goes? Do we get part of that? Do we have an equal say on how the television arrangements are done? Do we have an equal say on anything? That’s what a partnership normally implies.”

-Donald Fehr.  More on the CBA talks from Jeff Z. Klein of Slap Shot at the New York Times.

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Would You Call This A Crooked Line In The Sand?

from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,

...But the line between owners and players is not drawn in the classic sense. Revenue-sharing could become the key point because of how it could affect small-market clubs, a group of eight to 10 franchises that includes the Blue Jackets.

Because of this, it’s possible that as talks progress, they could pit owner against owner. The small-market owners could find themselves siding with players against the large-market owners, the power-brokers in the league.“I think as many as eight NHL owners would accept the NHLPA’s initial proposal,” said an NHL player agent who spoke to The Dispatch on the condition of anonymity. “And there’s probably four to six others who would find the proposal acceptable enough that they could tweak a couple of things and live with it.”

But don’t expect any owner to acknowledge that publicly. The NHL has threatened a fine of at least $1 million to any club that speaks out during the lockout.Any disagreement would have to be confined to private talks among owners. One NHL executive told The Dispatch last week that Bettman has the “full support of every owner in the room right now.”

Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs and Philadelphia owner Ed Snider hold considerable sway with Bettman and are strongly opposed to revenue-sharing. Those clubs, along with Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, the New York Rangers, Toronto and Vancouver, would stand to lose the most revenue.



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Morning Line

“I’m afraid it looks like two months. Everybody’s talking that they’re going to be out two months.”  It’s a lockout, it’s a shame. Everybody’s making money but everybody wants more money, and wouldn’t you? And that’s the way it works. It’s too bad.

“It’s hard to believe we’re going to miss hockey for two months.”

-Don Cherry of Hockey Night In Canada, via Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun.

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What Side Will Blink First?

from Scott Stinson of the National Post,

When Bettman and his allies insist that the league has financial difficulties, what he really means is that a handful of teams bleed money like stuck pigs. Two teams, Phoenix and Columbus, account for almost a third of league losses all on their own. Then there is the evidence of the past summer that suggests even owners from some of the small, low-revenue markets are a hell of a long way from the poor house. Carolina, which lost money last year, signed Jordan Staal to a US$60-million contract extension and gave Alexander Semin a one-year, US$6.7-million deal. Nashville, which lost money, matched Philadelphia’s 14-year, US$110-million bid for Shea Weber. Minnesota, which lost money, gave Ryan Suter and Zach Parise a combinedUS $196-million. These are not the moves of business entities that are teetering on the edge of financial ruin.

The question of what will break the impasse, most likely, will come down to resolve. Every sports lockout involves a group of wealthy owners who did not become wealthy owners by sticking up for one another and looking out for the little guy. These are highly self-interested people. How much patience will the owners of the high-value franchises have for missing games when the only teams suffering under the current system are a smattering of franchises in lousy markets? On the player side, will they stick to their counter-proposal or be cowed if they start missing paycheques?

Fehr, on a conference call with reporters on Friday, allowed that “no players would like to miss games.” But he also said the players are prepared to do so. They gave up an awful lot in the last lockout, he noted, and the owners’ current demands, including a reduction of the players’ share of revenues from 57% to 43%, would see them give all that up again, and more.

“They understand what that means,” he said.

It means the NHL is trying to lean on them. Grind concessions out of them, especially once the missed games begin. In other leagues, the tactic has produced a win.


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Quick CBA Recap

I know most readers are getting tired with the same old news regarding the CBA and truthfully, I get tired of posting it.

So let me make this short and sweet.

Donald Fehr held a media phone conference today and here are a few of the highlights.

Fehr mentioned he will be speaking with Bettman in the coming days, before the next joint CBA meeting is scheduled.


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Enough Of The CBA Talk

from Michael Traikos of the National Post,

Wake me when it’s over.

That’s how most fans probably feel about the latest squabble between the NHL and the players’ union. They’re fed up.

Don’t talk to them about revenue sharing or salary rollbacks. Don’t tell them one side is being greedy and the other unreasonable. They don’t want to hear it. Not after what happened last time.

In 2004-05, a full season of a hockey was wiped out because of an unwillingness to introduce the salary cap. Eight years later, the existence of the salary cap is not even an issue anymore. Instead, a debate over relative shares of hockey-related revenues could threaten the season from starting. It could be about midi-chlorian counts and magic beans, for all fans care.

All that matters is that it appears we are going to lose more games. How many? It’s hard to say yet, but the doomsday preppers are already planning for the worst.


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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com


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