Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
As the NHL lockout enters its fourth week with no solution on the horizon, a question is quietly being whispered: When are we going to see cracks in the armour?
While commissioner Gary Bettman maintains he has the support of all 30 teams in this battle with the NHL Players’ Association, not everybody is convinced it will stay that way with two weeks of the regular season already toast.
Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly showed up on the NHLPA’s doorstep Friday for a private meeting out of the spotlight with executive director Donald Fehr and his brother Steve Fehr, who is acting as special council negotiations.
The belief is not everybody on the NHL’s board of governors is happy the league is in the midst of its third lockout in 20 years with Bettman at the helm and he’s getting some heat to try to find a solution.
“My guess is you’ve got about 10 teams that are pretty nervous right now,” said a league insider. “But (Bettman) has the power of the executive committee behind him.”
For now, no deal, and no sign of one any time soon. Nuclear winter, redux. Hockey Fright in Canada and the US. The owners won cost certainty, in the form of the cap, with the cudgel of the last lockout. Now they’re angling for profit certainty, using the same model, clawing back a larger piece of the gross take and telling the players to make due with hundreds of millions of dollars less — hand in hand with huge concessions in contract language. Little wonder it’s at a standstill. And it will be no surprise if the season is lost, though that decision likely would not come until approximately mid-January. Best to figure we’re in a 100-day countdown at this hour.
-Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe where you can read more on the lockout and other hockey topics.
More overnight tweets from Bob McKenzie...
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
Imagine the Big Four meeting Friday in Toronto -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy, Bill Daly; NHL Players' Association executive director Don Fehr and his brother, Steve Fehr.
Now imagine a popsicle sitting in the center of the table. The Big Four's job is to divide it.
Because the popsicle is already out of the freezer, it is melting steadily, drip by drip, day by day. The faster the Big Four reach an agreement, the more they will have to divide. The longer they take, the less will be left. Eventually, there comes a point where the popsicle won't be a popsicle anymore -- just a pool of goo, a sticky mess.
The NHL lockout is a textbook bargaining dilemma. Literally. The popsicle metaphor has been used in college textbooks like the one written by Rodney Fort, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan.
"How long can the owners wait?" Fort said. "How long can the players wait?"
Fort's conclusion: not long.
from Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail,
Q: Does the court of public opinion matter for you and the NHLPA?
Fehr: Obviously the public matters. Those are the fans, the people who ultimately buy the tickets and watch the game on TV and you want to try and explain everything you can. You want to see if the fans can understand your position, that the public perception of the particular dispute is as close to what we think the facts and the circumstances are. If you’re asking me about public opinion in the sense of taking a poll of people who are not familiar with the comprehensive nature of negotiations and all the rest of it, and then negotiating on the basis of what the results of that poll happen to be? The answer is no, any more than you would if I was representing a reader in a lawsuit and I said: ‘I have no idea what your legal position is, let’s take a poll and see what they say.’
Q: How important is it that when this is all said and done, the reputation of individual players hasn’t been damaged?
A: It’s essential that the players be involved and be involved intimately and knowledgeably, that they participate collectively and make the decisions that need to be made. When you get into negotiations which involve dispute, there are going to be times when the conversation is more heated than you might like it and tempers might flare. I would be very surprised if anybody on the other side took off after individual players or tried to make them look bad and if they did I think the only effect that would have would be to enhance that player’s stature in the eyes of other players enormously.
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
Q: Does the court of public opinion matter?
Bettman: Ultimately it does.
What our fans want, what our fans believe, what our fans are interested in is why we are what we are. But, nevertheless, ultimately we have to do the things that we believe are essential for the long-term health of the game, of the league and of all of our franchises.
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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