Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Katie Baker of Grantland,
It's perversely funny, almost: The NHL can't even be the best at making unpopular collective-bargaining decisions. The league locked out its players nearly a month ago, and in the time since then there's been almost zero movement, fanfare, or hope. Players have trickled overseas to play elsewhere. Games have been officially postponed. What we're left with is a Jenga tower of rumors and speculation: The holes keep piling up, and yet we keep right on building. Some say the season is toast. Others say it will be back by November. As with the concurrent presidential election, it's impossible to tell what's strategic posturing at any given time and what's truth. And so no one trusts anyone, and everyone's doomed.
With that in mind, here's a broad look at some of the factions involved in the NHL's labor stoppage who have the most to gain or lose — but probably mostly lose, as is ever the case — from what will unfold over the next few weeks or, nopleaseno, months.
1. The Players' Association
They looked intimidating but uneasy in their cargo shorts and T-shirts, their hats on, their big arms folded, and their wide backs leaning up against the white columns in the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. They didn't look like a mingle of millionaires. They just looked like a posse of college kids, or of recent grads hanging poolside in Vegas. (Zdeno Chara, for good measure, even had on what I think was an Ed Hardy tee.)
Some of them were NHL stars, like Zach Parise, formerly of the New Jersey Devils, who this summer with Ryan Suter signed matching 13-year, $98 million contracts with the Minnesota Wild as free agents. Others were lesser-known and lesser-paid guys, like Ben Lovejoy, who makes $525,000 a year with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But you could easily imagine any of them, these NHL athletes gathered in New York for players' association meetings, as man-children receiving the news of an NHL lockout in a scene right out ofOld School:
via the QMI Agency,
Some European players have mused that they might not return to the NHL when the lockout eventually ends.
Former NHL great Guy Lafleur doesn't have a problem with that. In fact, he sees a significant benefit for Canadians if the Europeans do stay home.
"Let them stay there, it will make more room for players from Quebec and North Americans," Lafleur said Wednesday during a press conference announcing the construction of Place Guy Lafleur in his hometown of Thurso, Que,.
"As a supporter and former player, I do not care for players who want to stay in Europe. It's their choice."
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov have been vocal about the possibility of European players staying in the KHL when the lockout ends. The big reason is potential pay cuts that could come with a new collective bargaining agreement.
Lafleur also speculated that the lockout would drag into the new year.
"We hope it will be settled before the holidays (but) I am very skeptical about it," he said. "The players are very fortunate to have the opportunity to play and make millions of dollars. I'm happy for them, but on the other hand, they must realize something else: As athletes, they can not earn more than the owners."
"The way I see it, if Shea Weber or Ryan Suter or Zach Parise signed those big deals in July and then arrived at training camp and said, 'We’re not playing until we get 20 percent more on our contract.' There would be an uproar. The owners would say, 'No chance.’ Well, it’s the same thing. Contracts have been signed, both the owners and the players have signed these contracts. Now they’re trying to take whatever percentage off the top? It’s all about principle. It’s a handshake and an agreement. Why did all these owners rush to sign all these players before the lockout?"
-Ryan Clowe of the San Jose Sharks speaking on CBA topics with Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. Read more from Clowe.
from Ken Warren of Senators Extra,
Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson had some choice words for NHL owners Wednesday.
“Like everybody else, I’m disappointed that the owners chose to have this tactic from the very beginning,” Alfredsson told The Citizen. “They chose to give a low-ball offer from the get-go. It was kind of clear what they wanted and I don’t see anything changing anytime soon.”
In a normal NHL world, Alfredsson would be leading the Senators against the Canadiens at Montreal’s Bell Centre in the season opener Thursday, hoping to build upon the momentum that led to the team’s surprise playoff berth last spring. Instead, NHL players are spread out around the world, awaiting for a resolution in the lockout.
The Senators captain says he’s “past being frustrated,” believing that the NHL had a lockout in mind from the start of negotiations towards a new collective bargaining agreement.
It is business as usual for the NHL.
You can read the Board's decision here.
NEW YORK (October 10, 2012) -- Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the National Hockey League, released the following statement regarding today’s ruling by the Alberta Labour Board:
“We are pleased with the Alberta Labour Board’s ruling today that the lockout of Players is effective on a League-wide basis, including in Alberta, and we are extremely appreciative of the decisive manner in which the matter was handled.
“We are hopeful that this ruling will enable both the League and the NHL Players’ Association to focus all of our efforts and energies on negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in order to get our game and our Players back on the ice.”
TORONTO (October 10, 2012) – The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) released the following statement regarding today’s decision by the Alberta Labour Relations Board:
“The players are obviously disappointed with today’s decision. Unfortunately, the Alberta Labour Relations Board decided not to exercise its discretion to determine whether the owners’ lockout violates Alberta law. We will consider our further options with regard to this case.
In the meantime, the players want to play, the fans want to watch the game, and the many workers and business owners who are dependent on NHL hockey for their livelihood want the season to start. We remain committed to reaching a fair agreement at the earliest possible time and hope that the NHL begins to show a willingness to do so.”
If there are no games in October and November, it’ll sting, but it won’t be the end of the world. Once the Winter Classic and the entire season are put in jeopardy, fans will have to make a choice.
Will they stay quiet while their favourite league torches another campaign? Will they flock back whenever their teams do and say, “yes, your trinkets and your lovely messages painted on the ice are enough.”
Or will they say “never again,” and send a real message with their wallets?
It shouldn’t have come to this.
-James Gordon of the Ottawa Citizen where more can be read.
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.
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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