Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
If the union is willing to counter while working off the framework the NHL provided Tuesday, then there’s a reasonable expectation the real negotiations have begun -- finally -- and we could have hockey this season.
If the NHLPA responds by completely rejecting the offer, we’re in for a deep freeze.
It’s pretty clear from Donald Fehr’s letter to players Tuesday night, obtained by TSN colleague Bob McKenzie that the union boss isn’t overly thrilled with the NHL’s latest offer, although he does admit the league has taken a step forward.
My sense is that the league’s top dogs were anxious about how Fehr would spin the offer to his membership, which is entirely why, in my opinion, the league took the unprecedented step Wednesday morning of publishing the entire proposal. It wasn't so much about fans being able to read it -- although that doesn’t hurt in the PR war -- but really so that the 700-odd NHL players could view the league’s original version and not just what they’re being told by Fehr.
from Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post,
George Smith, a Queen’s University professor who has negotiated labour deals for major companies such as Air Canada and CP Rail, suggested the NHL’s decision to release the full text of its offer on Wednesday morning could change the mood around the NHLPA offices “significantly.”
“In the corporate world … this would be seen as very, very aggressive,” Smith said. “Because you’re effectively going around the union. You’re negotiating directly with the bargaining unit.”...
Smith said the NHL’s offer — not only in its timing, but also in its appearance of giving a fairer deal — was a brilliant negotiating move. By way of example, though, Smith was asked how he thought labour unions would react if, while he was at Air Canada, he sent the full text of management’s offer to the company website.
“They would go ballistic,” he said. “Why would I be negotiating either directly with the members or with the public when I’m supposed to be negotiating across the table with you? There’s no other way to describe this. This isn’t about transparency. This is about winning the hearts and minds.”
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
The first official NHLPA reaction to the NHL offer is in -- NHLPA executive director Don Fehr sent a letter to all players and agents last night -- and not unexpectedly the league's proposal wasn't met with great enthusiasm.
In the letter, which breaks down a summary of the NHL offer, Fehr writes the following:
- "Simply put, the owners' new proposal, while not quite as Draconian as their previous proposals, still represents enormous reductions in player salaries and individual contracting rights. As you will see, at the 5 per cent industry growth rate the owners predict, the salary reduction over six years exceeds $1.6 billion. What do the owners offer in return?"
- "The proposal does represent movement from their last negotiating position, but still represents very large, immediate and continuing concessions by players to owners, in salary and benefits (the Players' Share) and in individual player contracting rules."
On some of the specific aspects of the NHL proposal:
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
First, the NHL Players’ Association boss could work off the NHL’s proposal from Tuesday, understanding that the players could be painting themselves into a dangerous corner if they appear anything less than co-operative and interested in getting the season started, and start grinding away on the fine print and contractual language leading to an agreement by late next week.
Or, second, he could see the NHL offer as a sign of weakness, as an indication Gary Bettman is feeling the heat of both hockey fans and his owners.
And he might tell his membership that if they’re willing to play hardball and extend this labour battle, a big victory could be at hand.
Which way Fehr goes, nobody knows. Even the NHL is unsure. They felt they had a read on former union boss Bob Goodenow, and during Paul Kelly’s brief tenure before he was deposed as executive director, believed he was a person they could work with.
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
For the first time since this agonizingly, ridiculous process began, there is a legitimate goalpost in the ground. The players have some serious questions about the offer, especially since it is only seven pages and leaves plenty of unanswered questions, but even the most hardcore NHLPA members admit this is a good starting point.
In fact, the overwhelming response from players was, "Why didn't we get this offer in June?" And it wasn't just them who felt that way. One team executive said: "It's about !#$%^&* time."
Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, will certainly ask for some more information on Wednesday morning. After Tuesday's players' conference call, membership was uncertain about several issues. Some of the hardliners are skeptical, especially since the NHL set the original bar so low that any offer would look good. Plus, Tuesday's submission means a smaller share of the hockey-related revenue pie and contract concessions. But others are willing to see how Fehr's queries are answered and go from there.
"I think we're going to make a serious counter," one player said. "We want to put something together to get a deal done."
One agent texted last night: "The next three-four days are critical." I agree with that because the NHL offer leaves room for negotiation and counters, which is undeniably part of the strategy.
from Michael Grange of Sportsnet,
When you're stuck without a hammer, the smart thing to do is not get nailed, and so Fehr and the NHLPA have chose to wait, and wait; making a single significant offer in 12 weeks of bargaining.
But with the NHLPA's first pay day gone and the NHL literally begging the players to bring forward any kind of proposal to breathe some life into the dead air that had infected the process since negotiations effectively stalled on Sept. 12, Fehr stayed silent.
‘You come to us’ was the message he was giving, but did he outsmart himself is the question.
Bettman took his bait, striding into the NHLPA offices at the foot of Bay Street in Toronto and pulling a substantial, multi-page document out of his briefcase and laying it on the table.
A term of at least six years; a 50-50 split of hockey related revenues; free agency after eight years of service or age 28 and a maximum length of contracts capped at five years. Arbitration rights stay and entry level contracts shortened to two years. A full 82-game season played starting on Nov. 2. So close you can taste it.
And suddenly, instantly -- if perhaps unjustifiably -- Bettman can paint himself as reasonable. As fair. As motivated to do what's best for the game.
Make sure to read more tweets from Bob McKenzie in regards to additional details in the new NHL proposal.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN who breaks down the proposal...
I believe there’s going to be a deal, but how the NHLPA responds to the league’s offer is the biggest single moment in this entire negotiation.
Then we have Elliotte Friedman telling us what was not included in the offer...
Finally, George Malik of The Malik Report has been fighting a nasty virous and hopefully will be back blogging soon.
In the meantime, George used TwitLonger to discuss rollbacks and those long/lifetime contract.
Instead of linking to George's piece, you can read it below...
The one thing that should absolutely not do (the players) is fight for a month to get 51% rather than 50%. Cave now or take them to the wall. No half measures. Tug the forelock or resolve to blow it up.
-Tom Benjamin at hisNHL blog where you can read more on this topic.
Well worth watching, get all the little tidbits from the CBA talks today.
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.
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