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Category: NHLPA

The NHL May Be Playing A Game Of Keep Away

from Stu Hackel of the Red Light,

One has to wonder if, in fact, the NHL’s frequent apparent missteps might not be blunders at all, but intentional ploys designed to drive the two sides further apart. We generally have assumed that the league wants to make a deal and, as many observers and even some labor experts have pointed out, there seems to be one that can be made now that both sides have roughly agreed on a 50-50 split in revenue.

But what if the owners have concluded, despite their claims that to the contrary, that their interests would be better served if they were to not make a deal, repeating the way they acted in 2004? That would explain any number of strange things that the league has done until now, starting with its first unacceptable offer to the players.

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The One Big Issue

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

The key to finding a breakthrough in the NHL’s labor impasse revolves around the formula in which both sides can agree on to help honor existing player contracts. 

Otherwise known as the "make whole" mechanism in the NHL’s offer from last Tuesday and the NHLPA’s No. 3 option Thursday, with both sides officially putting 50/50 on the table as a revenue split, the make-whole proposition holds the best possible chance at finding resolution. 

If I’m a player, I’m asking leadership at the NHLPA to give this the best shot possible. And if I’m an owner, I do the same to the NHL’s lead negotiators. 

The NHL is inviting the make-whole conversation to happen. 

continued

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It Should Be About Money

from Michael Grange of Sportsnet,

What a mess the league has on its hands.

They should be talking about money. The players should be focused on the very real possibility that whatever share of hockey-related revenue they do get will be from a much smaller pool of funds if the season is shortened. The league may be exaggerating when it says they've lost $350-million in revenues already, having cancelled the pre-season and the first month of the regular season, but it's hard to imagine it hasn't hurt the business and thus the players' earning power.

There should be discussion of exactly how far apart the two sides are in real dollars - some estimates put it as low as $100-million a year over the life of a five or six year agreement - and how to further narrow the gap. It's a trivial amount in a deal that could be worth $20-billion.

Chances are if the focus remained that narrow, Bettman wouldn't be in his New York office twiddling his thumbs, hoping the NHLPA comes trembling to their next - as yet unscheduled - meeting.

But instead of talking about money, it's become something bigger.

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NHL May Have Found Out How Strong The NHLPA Is

from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,

So the NHL is tired of talking to “a baseball guy” and trying to take its message directly to the players, looking for a sympathetic ear.

Such an end-around isn’t unusual – after all, it happened during the last lockout – but it usually comes as part of an endgame strategy.

Are we that far along already? Maybe.

But this time around it is as much to do with (a) testing the players’ resolve and (b) frustration with NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr’s dour consistency as anything.

It’s also a sign the league is getting a little anxious – and that a compromise that can end this lockout could actually not be as far away as the rhetoric suggests.

What the NHL is really doing here is fishing for weak points in the membership: players who really don’t want to miss paycheques and are willing to consider the not quite 50-50 offer on the table.

It doesn’t sound like they found all that many.

continued

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Another Mistake By The NHL?

from Katie Strang of ESPN,

Following a disheartening negotiating session where the NHL roundly dismissed all three of the union’s proposals in Toronto last Thursday, players walked away with a grim outlook on CBA talks and a bitter aftertaste. 

In rejecting the union’s array of offers within a matter of minutes, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman unintentionally galvanized the players, who felt offended and insulted by his actions and frustrated by the direction of discussions. 

Now, it looks like Bettman made another serious miscalculation. 

Bettman and the league released a memo last week, unbeknownst to the NHLPA, that general managers across the league were permitted to talk to players during a specific 48-hour window. But instead of easing the tension of what is sure to be awkward communication between a team’s executive and his players, the league’s actions may have a far more deleterious effect. 

Considering the lack of trust between the two sides at this point of negotiations -- the several sessions required to clarify hockey-related revenue are a prime example -- it’s only fair to wonder if this latest development will exacerbate the tensions between two sides. 

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Call Me, Maybe

from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,

With pressure mounting to get a season-saving deal done, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman secretly allowed owners and general managers to be in contact with players for a 48-hour period last week.

Owners and GMs were afforded a chance to promote Bettman’s proposal of a 50-50 division of hockey related revenue. The window for conversations ended Friday.

The report initially came from Quebec-based TVA.

“Propaganda,” one NHL unidentified player told TVA Sports.

“Players were calling to ask about the offer,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Star in an email. “We let clubs answer their questions. . . . We did authorize club executives to respond substantively to player inquiries.”

The union did not believe that players phoned owners and GMs, and was not impressed with the owners’ action.

“Most owners are not allowed to attend bargaining meetings. No owners are allowed to speak to the media about the bargaining,” Steve Fehr, Donald Fehr’s chief legal counsel, said in a statement.

“Interesting that they are secretly unleashed to talk to the players about the meetings the players can attend but the owners cannot.”

continued

added 12:13pm,

Even more on the memo at Puck Daddy.

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Start Negotiating Now

from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,

Since both sides acknowledge their latest offers show there is a deal to be made, that a 50-50 share of revenue is now the admitted goal, the solution is going to lie with the moderates among the owners and players. They have to start nudging, well, pushing really, the hard-liners among them to a deal.

At this point, the argument is about how fast the owners and players get to a 50-50 split and how much of the cost of going from the players’ previous share of 57 per cent to 50 will come out of their pockets. So far, the owners insist it has to happen today and most of the cost will come from the players in the form of escrow on existing contracts and the shrinking of their portion in the future. The players want their contracts to be paid in full right now and to hit 50 per cent three years from now, according to two of the three offers they made last week, or go to 50-50 right away but with a provision to ensure all existing contracts are paid in full.

At this point, the only contact between the NHL Players’ Association and the owners is by telephone. The old “We’re-still-here-but-not-bargaining” call. Maybe they’ll get together in New York this week and maybe not.

That is the frustrating part of the owners’ latest lockout. They have managed to get a deal in sight but somehow have spent so little time actually negotiating in a sense it remains as far away as one did in those hopeless days in 2004-05 when weeks would go by with no communication of any kind between the owners and the union.

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Report- No More Concessions From The NHL

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

While some media are speculating bargaining could resume Wednesday in New York, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told QMI Agency in an e-mail the NHL is willing to negotiate only on the offer it made the union last Tuesday.

"We have a proposal on the table," Daly wrote Monday. "If, and when, the (union wants) to bargain over it, we will be more than happy to do so."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, facing heat to get the season started, tabled a proposal that would have seen the sides settle their differences with a six-year CBA that included a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenues.

League sources say Bettman won't be allowed to offer up any more concessions to try to get a deal and, in fact, he has gone further than some owners expected he would.

There is concern in league circles the NHL won't be able to do anything to satisfy union executive director Donald Fehr and if Bettman continues to negotiate he is doing so against himself despite tremendous pressure to play.

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This Sure Doesn’t Sound Like Good News

from the CP at TSN,

"(I'm) not sure there is any reason to meet if there is nothing new to say," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press in an email. "Our position was communicated to the union pretty clearly last Tuesday and then again on Thursday.

"If they have a desire to meet with regard to the proposal we have on the table, they know how to reach us."

The sides touched base by phone over the weekend following a busy few days that saw each of them table new offers. They had been expected to gather in New York at some point this week.

"They say they want a deal but then they say they only want to meet if it is on their terms," said Steve Fehr, the NHLPA's special counsel. "Strange. That is not the way to reach an agreement. Bargaining is give and take -- not just take."

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Report- Back At The Negotiating Table Later This Week?

from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,

 With Thursday's deadline looming and a full 82-game season hanging in the balance, the NHL and NHLPA have not made any plans to meet again following last week's proposal-swapping debacle.

Although one source with knowledge of negotiations told ESPNNewYork.com that talks are likely to resume at some point this week, no meeting had been scheduled as of late Monday afternoon.

Both NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly spoke over the weekend, but did not mark the calendar for a formal bargaining session. According to a source briefed on the conversation, the league and the union had a conference call to seek clarification on hockey-related revenue issues, but did not resume negotiations.

When will the two sides meet next?

"Don't know," Daly told ESPNNewYork.com via email. "We will see what happens in the next couple of days."

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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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