Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chris Stevenson at the Toronto Sun,
How about the players save their obvious hatred and criticism of Bettman and channel that energy into negotiating?
The league got criticized for putting its offer out there in the public domain, but at least the NHL has crafted something the players and others can tear down. And didn't NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr once say he'd like to see negotiations televised?
We haven't heard anything constructive from the players' side since they made an offer during two days of meetings in New York almost five weeks ago. The NHL crafted a response to that offer in about an hour, I think it was, and since then, there's hasn't been anything but static from the players.
The NHL has now made the past two offers, basically negotiating against itself.
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
With several players apparently flying into Toronto for Thursday's NHL/NHLPA talks, here's what shouldn't matter to them:
- Gary Bettman's overseen three lockouts in 18 years
- The league's opening offer was as legitimate as my "offer" to date Kate Upton
- The NHL hired a bare-knuckles public relations fighter to change its public perception
- Bettman is not the most publicly warm or cuddly personality
Here's what should matter to them:
For the first time in this process, Bettman is ready to negotiate.
Over the past few months, players launched a blitzkrieg of negative tweets and quotes about the NHL commissioner. Their feelings are pretty clear. Fine. They don't have to like him. But, barring an Amin-like coup from within the NHL, they have to do a deal with him.
No one's saying the players have to take the league's proposal as is. But, it is in their own best interests to sit at the table and make a serious effort at seeing where the next week or two will take them.
The meeting is scheduled for 1:00pm tomorrow in Toronto NHLPA offices.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Fehr is a new player in the game, and they are still trying to figure him out - thus far, without much success.
Presumably, that Fehr of fear is the primary reason the league to put its offer out there - in the hopes that members of the players union will read it, consider it, try to understand it and then internally start asking questions about some of its more complex elements.
The material is dense and complicated and the numbers are all predicated on an unknown variable - what revenues may look like down the road. Specifically, can the industry growth of the past seven seasons be sustainable in the years ahead?
But here’s the risk from the NHL side. If the players see it is a divide-and-conquer strategy, then it could easily blow up in the league’s face.
Soon after Bettman unveiled his offer Tuesday to generally hopeful reactions,I suggested there were more reasons for pessimism than optimism. Few wanted to hear that.
Then Fehr circulated a letter to the players, outlining his objections to the proposal - a document made public by TSN’s Bob McKenzie - and suddenly, more people have leapt to this side of the debate, joining the nattering nabobs of negativity as Spiro Agnew once memorably said.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
A couple of things about the NHL proposal that come to mind at first blush:
• I don’t think there’s any way the players accept this proposal as it’s currently constituted. What it does, however, is provide at least a base from which to begin legitimate collective bargaining. There is a lot of work to do, chiefly finding a way to get the players’ share of revenues up higher in the early years of the deal. If the league’s revenues can allow for the players to receive the full value of their contracts with a 50/50 split in subsequent years, that works. But as it stands, the haircut for the players is just too drastic in the short term.
• I keep hearing about how the league has made all kinds of concessions. Nothing could be further from the truth. The players were getting 57 percent of revenues and would be getting only 50 under the terms of this deal. That’s nothing even close to a concession. It represents a concession off their initial offer, which was laughable, but not off the terms of the previous CBA, which should be the benchmark. The reality is, there is almost nothing in this proposal that doesn’t represent a takeaway from the players.
from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,
The players will not be accepting the league’s 50-50 proposal that was released in full on Wednesday morning.
And it’s not so much the final number they’re opposed to.
Instead, it comes back to a familiar topic: escrow.
As we’ve heard all along, players want to receive the full value for their 2012-13 (and presumably 2013-14) salaries, something that will not be possible under a 50-50 split.
According to the league, players earned roughly $1.883-billion as their share last season. In order to maintain that level of salary, they would need to receive 54.3 per cent of revenues (after accounting for 5 per cent revenue growth leaguewide).
There are two things of vital importance here, however:
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:
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