Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
Through social media, players are winning the PR battle and fans are starting to organize, but it's hard to tell if it will make any difference at all in the big picture.
"I think it will for sure," Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff said. "Last time, minus Twitter, in a lot of ways Gary [Bettman] and the league could control what gets said in the media. Now, it's almost impossible. It's already happened a couple times where Gary has made a statement and, literally three minutes later, it's being rebuffed and proven not to be true."
Through it all, the NHL and its teams have remained quiet on the social media front during CBA negotiations. The last tweet from Bettman (@Commish_Gary) came in April 2009. The NHL's official Twitter page has avoided the labor talks, focusing on environmental initiatives around the league.
There wasn't even a snarky tweet from the L.A. Kings pointing out the difference between revenue and profit or net and gross when the NHL's own revenue media release was used against it.
There seems to be a realization in NHL offices that little is gained in publicly alienating the players, the lifeblood of the league. At some point there's going to be a deal struck and the two sides will have to work together. The league needs the players not only for games but to cooperate with the expanding media empire at NHL Network and NHL.com.
from Chris Johnston of the CP at MetroNews,
Essentially, the NHL is back where it started when the current CBA was signed in July 2005. That six-year deal — extended through a seventh because of an option held by the NHL Players’ Association — ended a lockout that saw the league become the first in North America to ever have an entire season wiped out by a work stoppage.
The union is planning its largest gathering since that deal was ratified with more than 200 players expected to attend meetings Wednesday and Thursday. A number of stars, Sidney Crosby among them, are expected to take part in the show of strength.
“We want to brief the broadest possible group of players and it’s always better to do it in person,” said Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director. “Whenever you’re facing the possibility of a lockout what you need to do is make it as easy as possible for the maximum number of your constituents to hear it directly.
“We’re going to have a very large number of players it looks like and you know how fast information travels through locker-rooms, so it won’t be a problem getting it out to everyone else.”
His phone has already been ringing off the hook. With very little progress to report during negotiations, a number of players have started looking around at other options.
Once a lockout is enacted, they’ll be free to sign with other pro teams — and the union is actively advising them on their rights.
“We have to,” said Fehr. “We basically have to say ‘You have your contracts, you have the circumstances, this is what we think is likely to happen in negotiations. … If you’re going to consider playing elsewhere, here’s the things we think you need to think about."
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
The National Hockey League Players’ Association is prepared to use Quebec labour law, if necessary, to try to prevent the National Hockey League and the Canadiens from locking out Habs players on Sept. 15....
Canadiens players, through their Montreal-based lawyer, Michael Cohen, sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the owners of the Canadiens and to the NHL on Friday, Sept. 7. Unless they cease their threats to lockout, the players will make an application to the Quebec Labour Board this upcoming week seeking to stop the Canadiens from locking out their players.
If the Quebec Labour Board agrees, the NHLPA contends, it could order the owners of the Canadiens not to lock out the players or to end a lockout in Quebec if one has started.
via the CP at TSN,
Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, referred to the matter as a "distraction" that was "not unexpected."
"It will be handled in due course, one way or the other," Daly wrote in an email on Sunday night.
We remain a long way apart. We need to hear again from the Players' Association before this can move forward.
-Bill Daly today at Sports Business Journal via The Sporting News.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
So if the players give Bettman more this time, what more does the union hand over when this deal expires in three, five, or eight years?
Truth is, avarice never has a fix. What the current stalemate tells us is that NHL owners simply want to cull out something close to 50 percent of the overall take, more closely mirroring what NFL and NBA owners won in their most recent collective rock fights with players.
Let us not forget, it was the salary-cap cost certainty of the NFL and NBA that led hockey owners to demand one last time.
As one team official noted to me last week, “Wait, didn’t we get what we said we needed from the players last time? At some point, maybe we’ve got to stop going that route, trying something else.’’
more plus other hockey topics...
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Who are these guys who sign contracts then use the guise of collective bargaining to rewrite them? What gives corporate barons like Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs, Philadelphia’s Ed Snider and Carolina’s Peter Karmanos Jr. the audacity to use the end of a labor agreement to conduct what is presumably a legal mass breach of promise?
The commissioner and his allies consistently refer to last year’s NFL and NBA lockouts, through which the owners in those respective leagues were able to get the players to agree to a smaller percentage take of revenue going forward.
Yet not a single player in either league lost money on an existing contract as a result of those settlements. According to information provided by the NFL Players Association, the average salary increased from $2 million to $2.25 million in the first season of the new agreement.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Instead of getting together with not much to discuss, the two sides decided to step back and see if they could come up ideas that might be able to lead to a resolution because there was information exchanged Friday.
“A lot was said and a lot needs to be processed and I think it probably takes a day or two to think about it and come up with some new ideas,” Wild centre Zenon Konopka, who sat in on Friday’s session, said from New York on Saturday.
No, there aren’t any promises, but it only makes sense that one side or the other will try to get a deal done by bringing a new proposal to the table this week. At this point, the NHL and the NHLPA both feel like they’ve made concessions.
“It’s hard to know, to be honest with you,” said Konopka. “I think there’s going to be some new ideas in the next week or so. As for a proposal, you’ve got to think there’s going to be something before Sept. 15th but I can’t say that for sure.”
from Tony Gallager of the Vancouver Province,
When you watch how the collective bargaining negotiation process works in the NHL now that the Players Association has accepted the poison pill of a salary cap, you have to wonder whether the NHLPA hasn’t outlived its usefulness.
The question here is not should they de-certify as a gimmick or a negotiating ploy, but should they just shut down for good or, at the very least, shouldn’t there at least be a serious study done looking at what would happen if there was no association whatsoever?
This is not to disparage the people in the association now or or in the past, or to question how much good this organization has done the players over the years, nor is it to say the owners might actually legally find more ways to mess with the players in the future were there not a union of some sort. But seriously, what does the union do for the players right now?
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr spoke briefly on Saturday and may touch base again on Sunday as the expiration date on the current collective bargaining agreement draws closer.
The league and the Players' Association held informal discussions on Friday but will not meet on Saturday, one week before the September 15 deadline.
The league has said it plans to lock out the players if a new deal isn't in place by then.
"(We're) trying to find a way to bridge the gap," said NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr on Friday. "That's always the intent."
"We'd like to make a deal," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Friday. "There is an ebb and flow to negotiations. It's always good to have dialogue."
from Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald,
The National Hockey League Players’ Association, in a move to prevent a lockout of the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, filed a challenge Friday at the Alberta Labour Relations Board.
The Flames and Oilers owners are asking for permission to hold a lockout vote.
This is what the NHLPA is trying to stop.
The hearing will be held next week in Edmonton.
“The players are committed to finding a way to reach an agreement without a lockout,” Mathieu Schneider, the NHLPA’s special assistant to executive director Donald Fehr, said Friday, “and we are hopeful that the Alberta Labour Relations Board will assist in these efforts.”
Under Alberta labour law, the NHL cannot hold a lockout vote unless it has first requested a mediator.
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