Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
My head is spinning, and if you've seen my noggin, you know that's no small feat. And to think we're likely just taking the first few steps this week towards walking through what is likely to be a very long, dark tunnel.
In some respects, I can't believe we're on the verge of another lockout, eight years after we went through a stoppage that cost us all an entire NHL season. And yet I'm not the least bit surprised at the vast gulf that exists, thus far anyway, between the positions of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr. It has been entirely too predictable.
Based on what we've seen of the negotiations to this point, the overriding sense I get from the public opinion reaction of fans and media -- for what that is ultimately worth -- is that the NHL is looking for an awful lot, too much too fast. I would generally agree with that characterization.
from Tom Van Riper of Forbes,
As time winds down on the NHL’s deadline to lock out its players, there’s one burning question that stands out: what happened to the combative Donald Fehr, the one who made his name as a thorn in the side of the baseball owners for years?
Commissioner Gary Bettman launched an opening salvo that called for a huge reduction in the players’ take of league revenue – to 43% from 57%. That seems like a brazen move against Fehr, who would have laughed the baseball owners out of the room for such an offer.
But with five days to go until the NHL-imposed lockout, he isn’t dismissing the owners’ demands. Fehr will probably win something better than 43%, but he’s acknowledged that the players are willing to make hundreds of millions of dollars worth of concessions. So regardless of the final terms worked out, it’s Bettman and the owners who are framing the debate. Salaries will be cut, the only point of contention is how much.
continued and note to Forbes, time to change-out the very old NHL logo.
“Not only would another lockout become a major challenge to win more fans, I believe the NHL would lose casual fans and not regain them for an extended period of time. Our research after the last lockout (2004-05) showed the passionate fans quickly returned to the arena but a long lag time for casual fans to return to attending games and watching on TV. Given that TV ratings are one of the greatest challenges for the NHL, this is not good.”
- AJ Maestas, president of Chicago-based Navigate Research. More from Christopher Botta of SportsBusiness Journal.
from Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal at The Sporting News,
If negotiations between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association for a new labor deal go off the rails, Steve Fehr, the union’s special counsel and younger brother of NHLPA executive director Don Fehr, could be the guy behind the scenes who gets things back on track.
History shows he’s done it before.
“I have always regarded Steve to be a positive force in our negotiations,” said Rob Manfred, executive vice president of economics and league affairs for Major League Baseball, who has sat across the bargaining table from Fehr multiple times in the last two decades. “He was extremely helpful in getting a deal in ’96, ’02 and ’06.”
Fehr, 60, was hired as special counsel to the NHLPA in 2010 at the same time his brother Don, who ran the MLB Players Association for 25 years, was hired as NHLPA executive director. Although Don Fehr retired from the MLBPA in 2009 prior to taking his new job leading the hockey players’ union, Steve Fehr, who is 3 1/2 years younger than Don, continued to work for the MLBPA as special counsel and still does so today.
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...
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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