Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
More and more the NHL and its endless labour troubles seem to be setting it aside from the mainstream of pro sports, apart from other leagues where owners and unions seem to have found ways to establish better working relationships than has been the case in the NHL. The NHL and NHLPA are starting to look like the couple who snipe viciously at each other at social events without realizing others find their behavior unseemly and boorish.
It feels like even when this ends it will be in the first paragraph of every hockey story for the six months that follow. Neither Gary Bettman nor Don Fehr is looking like a statesman or a person whose sole ambition is to cut a deal and get the games rolling.
It feels like the poison between the owners and players is starting to seep into the fabric of the hockey industry. The players seem focussed on demonizing Bettman, which will do neither they or the business any good in the long run. Jimmy Devellano's outburst, meanwhile, perhaps revealed the cynical way in which some NHL owners regard the hired hands. The fanciful notion of a partnership is dead, and it seems these two sides will go on hating each other even if a deal can be reached to save this season.
There's also a sense that the NHL is flirting with irrelevancy, more in the U.S. than in Canada. Perhaps it's just the fabulous post-season baseball is enjoying, with all four division series matchups going the limit. The NFL is into the meat of its season, the NBA has started playing exhibition games and then there's the NHL, idle and ridiculous and run by league and union executives who seem to believe they're bulletproof and are thus more dedicated to standing their ground than negotiating.
Instead of watching Bill Daly and Steve Fehr give us a wrap-up of today's CBA sessions, let's turn to TSN to watch what Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and Bob McKenzie have to say about the CBA negotiations.
from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,
We already know the players are wiling to roll the dice on future revenue growth and accept a haircut in the overall percentage they get every year, and it's an open secret that the owners would be willing to sign on for a 50-50 split.
So the way they get there from here in the short term is blindingly obvious: cancel a few games (say eight or 10 or 12), play a shortened season a la NBA with pro-rated salaries and a sweetener in the form of, say, a one-time escrow holiday. Owners pay a little less out of their pocket this year, players get something very close to what they signed on for - 100 per cent of 85 or 90 per cent of what you're owed is better than missing paycheques into the indeterminate future.
Presto, first year problem solved, and you haven't imperilled any commercial relationships (yes, I'm referring to NBC, and I'm presuming here that there's a point this fall at which sponsors like MillerCoors are going to start wanting their money back and/or start putting their dough elsewhere, although the ins and outs of from deal to deal are apparently quite different).
Hell, you could even tweak the playoff system to have an eighth-place play-in game to goose revenues and general fan interest (don't laugh, it worked for baseball).
For subsequent seasons you negotiate an escalator for the owners' share of total profits where they can claim most or even all of the total revenue growth in the medium term (not sure how that would work, quite certain the players wouldn't want it to be through escrow) until the split hits 50-50 in two or three or four seasons' time.
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
How bad are things getting? Glenn Healy is the most sensible guy in the room.
On Wednesday's edition of Hockey Night in Canada Radio, Healy made the kind of suggestion that could crack the massive foundation between the NHL and NHLPA. The 14-year-goalie, who later worked for the union, floated the idea of the league creating some kind of annuity for the players out of any money lost from contracts already signed.
At the beginning of this now-insane process, the NHLPA's major issue was revenue sharing. Now, it's preserving previously awarded deals. The NHL's Prime Directive is to get the percentage split down to 50/50, which, on its surface, is completely incompatible with the players' goals.
If both sides are actually interested in negotiating, there needs to be some creative thinking.
"I was looking forward to a great, great season, with Rick Nash coming over here complementing a couple of the others like (Marian) Gaborik and (Brad) Richards." It took seven years to obtain the kind of status that we have now in hockey. We have NBC's sports channel, they had L.A. winning (last season), they had the Rangers going far in the playoffs. Seven different teams won the Stanley Cup the last seven years. I mean, think about that.
"And now there's a chill. It's a chill the fans don't like, and I hope the (league and players' association) don't too much damage. But the longer they wait, the (sadder) the fans get and the more disappointed. We keep our fingers crossed."
-Rod Gilbert, HHOF member. More from Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News.
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."
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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