Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
My belief is that in order for the NHL to get that new proposal from the NHLPA that it is so craving, the league is going to have to show compromises as well, specifically in the area of individual player contracts. The league has never officially taken off the table its list of desired changes to player contracts from its initial proposal, such as extending the entry-level contract system from three years to five years, the elimination of salary arbitration, moving the eligibility age for unrestricted free agency to 10 years of NHL service (it’s now seven years of pro) and the crackdown on back-diving contracts (front-loaded cheat deals). Of those demands, the back-diving contracts is by far, in my mind, the most important demand from the league and I don’t think that one ever comes off the table.
However, I do believe that if the league is willing to officially drop some of the other systemic changes it proposes in player contracts, it might help NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr go to his constituency and gauge the level of interest in submitting a new offer to the league that also shows more compromise, obviously in the area of the players’ share from hockey-related revenue.
In other words, both sides need to move before this process actually gets traction. Oh, and the sky is blue.
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Can a 24-month lockout be possible? You bet. What the game will look like and what will be left to fight over when that is said and done is unknown. But don't think it can't happen.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will soon hear demands from his owners to go for larger concessions from the players in order to make up for the money they've lost to date.
It's an saying you hear from league types, "the owners will not fund the lockout" -- meaning whatever losses owners incur because of lost games they'll try to get back in the new deal.
Lose a billion dollars because of lost games? No problem. Cut the players' percentage of HRR in the new deal to get that money back. We've heard Bettman say the deal on the table prior to the lockout may no longer be valid when core economic negotiations start again. Bettman knows some of his owners will get far more hawkish the longer this impasse exists and he will have to satisfy their will.
The closer we get to November and the cancellation of the Winter Classic, the more unreasonable Bettman's bosses will get.
from Chris Stevenson at the Toronto Sun,
So when it comes to reworking positions, what would the owners consider?
If the NHL owners ever wanted to get into the "back to the future" type of threat employed repeatedly by Fehr, how about a new system that doesn't have guaranteed contracts? It seems to work for the NFL.
How many times have you looked at a spike in a player's performance after two or three years of mediocre performances and then realized, oh, yeah, he's in a contract year?
You don't think there would be just a slight uptick in that player's performance in the middle of a four- or six-year contract if there was the chance come, say, July 1, the owner signing his paycheque had the option of walking away from the deal and letting the player become an unrestricted free agent?
Everything is on the table, so maybe the NHL wouldn't even have to grandfather in the guaranteed deals that are already in place. The comfy security of a 13-year contract might all of a sudden have a "best before" date on it.
Never mind the agony of escrow.
How about: "You're done. Go see if there is some other owner out there who will give you the $16.5 million I've paid you over the last two years for your nine goals and 40 assists in 118 games, Scott Gomez."
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The opposition of the NHL owners to the players’ request of increased revenue sharing as a solution to the league’s economic woes is puzzling.
By their own admission, the owners need each other to have a healthy league – they are so stubborn about keeping the Phoenix Coyotes from moving, they have paid the team’s bills for three years – but they seem to have no interest in creating a system that would insure the NHL gets healthy and stays that way.
Ownership’s insistence that taking money from the players is only the way to fix money problems in anywhere from 12 to 15 cities makes no sense when you consider how these guys built the current league.
At one time, the owners thought 30 teams was the best thing for the NHL.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly joined hosts Gord Stellick and Craig Simpson on Sirius Channel 207 to address a range of issues. Daly also confirmed more scheduled talks between the two sides are set for this week – on Wednesday and Thursday in New York.
continue reading for a recap of the interview or listen to the inteview below (autoplay is on)...
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.”
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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