Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
I spent time over the past couple of weeks talking to people on both sides; people who were optimistic as the 2011-12 season ended. People who believed all of this could be avoided. I was surprised at the level of anger, bitterness and hatred.
We're probably about a month or two away from really realizing how long this is going to go. But, even if this season is saved, the scars will be visible and deep. All of that anger gives Bettman and Donald Fehr plenty of ammunition to maintain hard lines. They don't care what the fans think, and, in times like this, they are both paid extremely well to ignore public pressure.
When players/executives/owners say they see this going into next season, I believe them. Right now, there is little reason to believe otherwise.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
So The owners and the owners’ commissioner are nearly a month into the lockout — one they designed and implemented in a naked power play to force the players to their knees. And do you know why they did it? Because they can, that’s why. Because they believe themselves to be entitled, that’s why. Because they own the keys, that’s why.
None of that changes because the players haven’t presented a new proposal to the NHL over the last month. None of that changes because some players have opted to play in Europe.
This notion that somehow there’s a shared responsibility for the dark NHL rinks across the continent is, well, to borrow a phrase, a bunch of malarkey.One side, and one side only, has offered concessions in an attempt to settle this dispute and have a season. That’s the players’ side. It is not a concession when the owners and their commissioner agree to accept fewer concessions from the players than originally demanded in the league’s July 13 Declaration of Economic War against the NHLPA.
That does not represent a compromise on the part of the Lords of the Boards, no matter how many times the owners’ deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggests it is so.
Numerous sources reporting the NHL and NHLPA will get together on Tuesday.
Time and location will be decided on sometime Monday.
Let's keep our fingers crossed that some common ground can be discovered.
I've had read enough tweets about soccer, high school football, the CFL, NFL, MLB, KHL political debates and other topics besides NHL hockey!
added 5:14pm, Bill Daly tells the AP via ESPN there is the potential for a meeting on Tuesday, but not firm.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The problem now, is how to get things unstuck. One of the two sides – likely whichever one grows most desperate – will need to compromise. In the meantime, neither side wants to show its hand first, believing that that would only undermine the strengths of its bargaining position.
Unfortunately, both players and owners have proved in the past that they can’t play nice in the negotiating sandbox, Fehr as leader of the baseball players’ union, Bettman in almost two decades of running the NHL.
You can only hope that all their cheap, specious arguments and bland motherhood statements will give way to legitimate, behind-closed-doors bargaining. Because if they don’t – if this is all they have – then the doors to NHL arenas will remain shuttered for a long time.
from Scott Morrison of Sportsnet,
The last time we went through this, a season was lost before the players essentially capitulated, only to eventually emerge in a new economic world that benefited most of them, with the average salary increasing by roughly a million dollars over the course of the previous collective bargaining agreement, while revenues grew to a record $3.3 billion.
Who gets what when the lights go back on really doesn't matter to any of us. Both sides will profit, the games will resume and the fans will come back.
What is most troubling, though, is the only way they seem to be able to get anything done is by staring each other down, by inflicting pain, then waiting to see who blinks first and most often.
Whatever happened to setting a meaningful deadline and negotiating to the best agreement possible? Perhaps that makes me a little naive in my thinking, but I also don't understand why what is happening now makes good business sense to either side.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
It strikes me there are two fundamental obstacles right now to getting a deal done.
The first is that Bettman and the owners want too much too quickly, a significant and immediate reduction in the players' share of Hockey Related Revenue that would result in a first-year pay cut of no less than 12 per cent, and perhaps more than that. Many (outside of the NHLPA anyway) don't dispute the notion that the NHL and NHLPA are destined, eventually, to go from the old 43-57 share arrangement to around 50-50, but the NHL seems hell-bent on getting there immediately with no consideration of transitioning to soften the blow to the players. For me, the ultimate issue is not going to 50-50 as much as it is how you get there. It took seven years for the old CBA to swing in the players' favor, why does it have to ruthlessly and awkwardly snap back the owners' way in one fell swoop?
The second roadblock is Fehr and the NHLPA clinging steadfastly to the notion that -- upon expiry of a CBA that has been very good to them and faced with the old lockout-gun-to-the-head approach -- they're going to escape this conflict without any tangible reduction in the dollars they earn....
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.
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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