Kukla's Korner Hockey
NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Donald Fehr met with the Star editorial board on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing collective bargaining between players and owners to end the NHL lockout. Here’s a partial transcript of the discussion.
Q: If I were a ten-year-old boy or girl who was a hockey fanatic and you wanted to tell me why this was important and why you have to hold tough, what would you say?
Fehr: I would say to a very young fan essentially this: What your mom and dad want you to be when you grow up is not only the very best you can be but hopefully the very best in your profession in the world. And in order to do that you have to work hard and practice hard, you have to make sure you do everything you need to do to achieve and maintain that requisite level of skill – and then you ought to be rewarded for it. And the players would be perfectly happy to eliminate the so-called salary cap and just let everyone offer a job or not on whatever terms they want. The players think they would do fine. But the owners don’t want to do that, so the question is how do we come up with a way that equitably assigns the relative portions of industry income? And that’s an important thing.
Q: This one is from one of our readers. Why does the NHLPA think that players collectively are entitled to more than the owners collectively?
Fehr: First of all, it’s not true. We estimate that when you look at all revenue, and you look at the current agreement, players are getting between 50 and 51 per cent. Second, there are a whole lot of things the owners don’t share in, like franchise sales and that kind of stuff – or a lot of the related business that the owners get into because they own a hockey team. Third, this is not a question of an entitlement in the sense that there’s some law, some act of Congress or religious edict that says this is what you should get. It’s a question of what you can negotiate, and just as importantly, what is the value to the league that the players bring. That’s the question....
from Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet,
... It's really a shame for guys like Sid, Ovie and Toews because they deserve better, because of the promotional grunt work they have done the past eight years. My generation would simply have told the league to take a flying leap on many of their "outside the box" ideas. Fat chance of ever seeing Mario or Wayne putting on their team jerseys and delivering season tickets door to door. Hey Gary, isn't that why you have sales people and access to UPS?
A Sunday NHL all-star game that feels like it lasts more than a long weekend? Good luck getting Brett Hull or Patrick Roy to parade like cattle while the league's corporate partners poke and prod ... oh sorry Jimmy D, let's not go there.
Not these present day players, though. Before labour unrest, Ovie and the boys were willing to do anything to put hockey on the map. Would Steve Yzerman or Mark Messier ever put on a silly hat, sun glasses, or Superman cape on and dive head first into a goalie to sell the game? Not for all the tea in China. Yet today's players went the extra mile so the league could finally get the U.S. national TV/cable deal that had eluded them since the days of the stupid glowing puck.
So will the players be willing to go the extra mile again once this meaningless lockout ends? I'm not so sure.
Hockey is in dire need of inspiration. More than ever, hockey leadership needs the people who will step out of the echo chamber and promote the unpopular opinions. Are any players in closed-door meetings speaking out in recognition of the fact they’ll have to give back? That they’re not going to receive 57 percent of revenues for happily ever after because it was the agreement once upon a time?
And are any of these supposed owners who can’t afford or don’t want a lockout, but who apparently back the tactic of shutting down the league, voicing their concerns over the ridiculous way the NHL runs and negotiates its business? Who knows where the real truth to this lies. But hockey will never be big-league in the USA if it continues to operate with such bush-league, winner-take-all, pre-PA mentalities.
-Rory Boylen of The Hockey News where you can read more on this topic.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Donald Fehr expressed some hope that collective bargaining talks this week will help lead to some resolution.
But he also made it clear in an hour-long meeting with the Toronto Star’s Editorial Board that the longer the NHL lockout lasts, the less happy the players will be playing under a salary cap.
“If this goes on for an extended period of time, I don’t know what they (the players) are going to do. But I think it’s safe to say, they would be exploring all options,” said Fehr.
He added the players can live with salary cap if an agreement can be reached quickly.
“Where the players are, they want to make a deal,” Fehr said. “Even though the owners’ proposal went as far away from the players as they could, the players did not respond in kind. They made a proposal which moved in the owners’ direction. If there can be an agreement in a relatively short term, which puts the pieces back together and gets the season going, I think the players can live with that.”
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
NHL owners are in a pressure cooker right now, with the heat guaranteed to be applied increasingly as the lockout cancellations add up and fan frustration boils over.
This is no longer the NHL of Clarence Campbell, where owners’ heads and voices often rose far higher than the league president’s own. There are no Smythes, Ballards, Norrises, Wirtzes to break order these days.
It is, increasingly, a Disney World where owners are corporate conglomerates, their heads as unrecognizable in the streets as the average fan. And league commissioner Gary Bettman has done an extraordinary job of herding these lions. So far.
It is worth pointing out, however, that even if the puck is no longer in play, egos are – and the possibility of breaking ranks exists on both sides, players and owners.
Being recognized in the streets is one thing.
Being chased through the streets is quite another.
"Donald Fehr, I know he's a tough negotiator and for years he was used to getting his way by virtue of the fact that MLB is still the only league that doesn't have a salary cap. But I think the wrangling that will go on over the course of the next month or two is simply seeing what (off-ice) concessions he can get ... just like the NFL got fewer workouts, this that and the other.
"Then looking into the future, if the owners cannot largely make a profit with a 50-50 split, then you shouldn't own an NHL franchise. Part of the reason teams get into trouble is because they feel like they have to keep up with the Joneses."
-Dr. Patrick Rishe, sports economic professor at Webster University. More on this topic from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
from Kevin M. Allen of USA TODAY,
Negotiations between NHL owners and players will resume in New York on Wednesday and Thursday, but they aren't scheduled, as of now, to include any discussion of the primary issue of how to divide revenues every season.
"Major economic issues aren't on the agenda," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday via email.
With the lockout now starting its fourth week and the first two weeks of the regular season already canceled, the owners and players are stalemated. They are negotiating on some of the secondary issues with the hope that it might open the door to talks on the major issues.
via Chris Johnston of the CP at Yahoo,
The NHL and NHL Players' Association likely won't discuss economics when collective bargaining talks resume this week.
The sides have agreed to sit down together in New York on Wednesday and Thursday, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday that he expects the conversation to cover secondary issues, including "health and safety, medical care, drug testing, rent and mortgage reimbursements (and) grievances."
Talks have been limited to ancillary topics since the lockout was enacted, including during two separate sessions last week.
Daly indicated that he'd like to see economics and system issues — essentially how the sides split up league revenue — put back on the bargaining table soon.
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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