Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Grange of Sportsnet,
The NHL commissioner is entering his 20th season on the job and has suffered all measure of indignities, be it requiring a police escort in Winnipeg when he sounded the death knell for the first go-round of the Jets to having Chris Chelios threaten his family in the lead-up to the 1994-95 lockout to simply being unpopular, as the greeting he receives at most NHL arenas when he pokes his head up would attest.
But Bettman plows ahead. You get the sense he’s oblivious, figuring those doing the baiting have, over time, shown themselves to be overly emotional or provincial or fools. He’s not any of those things, so he figures he’ll win in the end.
But maybe, just maybe, Don Fehr has Bettman on edge, as he faces a new foe with poker face and no need to please.
"Don’s not afraid to tick someone off," says Buck Martinez, the Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster who was the American League vice-president of the MLBPA for eight years during his playing career and part of the negotiating committee for baseball’s labour stoppages in 1981, 1984 and 1985. "He knows how to push buttons and he knows what to fight for."
from Chris Johnston of the CP at the Winnipeg Free Press,
None of the top executives involved in the NHL's collective bargaining negotiations will continue to be paid if the league enacts a lockout next week.
Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, says he stopped drawing a salary on July 1 and a source told The Canadian Press that commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly plan to follow suit if a new agreement can't be reached by Sept. 15.
It's a practice Fehr adhered to during his time at baseball's union and one his predecessor at the NHLPA, Bob Goodenow, also followed when the 2004-05 season was wiped out by a lockout.
"It's both a measure of solidarity and uniformity of interest," Fehr said in an interview Thursday. "You want the players to understand you're in the same boat they are — you don't have interests different than they do. We think it's important."
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
There is risk of the entire 2012-2013 NHL season being wiped out.
Now that qualifies as fear mongering, but considering how entrenched both the league and the players' association are with less than 10 days until the expiration of the existing collective bargaining agreement, sources on both sides are accepting the loss of another season as a possibility.
Negotiations remain in a stalemate - with no plan to resume formal talks.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Think of the negotiations between the NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) as a typical Meg Ryan rom-com. You know how it’s going to turn out in the end: some version of happily-ever-after, the two people putting aside all the turmoil and angst that had existed between them to forge a relationship that, for better or worse, will (hopefully) last a good long time.
The films start out the same way, too: with vitriol, dislike, rancour, friction – and no real sense that Meg or her romantic lead could ever, under any circumstance, find any common ground.
Sound familiar? The league and the players are in the first few frames of that movie right now, just as the credits have finished rolling. At this juncture, their eyes can’t even meet across the coffee shop without one or the other stomping out of the room in a huff.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
"I think it's been different in a lot of respects," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com in an interview Wednesday. "At least with respect to a lot of the issues that need to be discussed and worked out, we ploughed a lot of ground in that area and made some progress. I think we have some tentative agreement to some things, we have teed up issues in other areas -- so from that perspective we had a good summer of negotiation. Each side was also able to express where they are on the economics of the deal, some of the system issues, those still need to be resolved. There hasn't been a lot of movement on those issues. And they are the critical issues to setting off all the dominos. We're focused on those issues exclusively right now."
While they remain far apart on the key economic issues -- the percentage the players will get in the new CBA -- at least both sides used the summer sessions to get ahead in other areas.
"My approach is really very simple: you get up every day, you try to find a way to work through the issues, you organize the group of things you want to talk about so that they have some nexus with one another to the extent that's possible," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr told ESPN.com in a separate interview Wednesday. "If you can have things discussed in smaller groups without everybody being involved in every meeting, sometimes that can be helpful. And you follow through 'em, you have your discussions and sometimes they go well, sometimes not, sometimes they get heated, but so what, you got to do that. You get it done. To the extent that you can get through that kind of stuff, that's helpful."
from John Buccigross of ESPN,
I got this text from a very well-connected hockey source Tuesday night:
"In spending time around the players the last month, I think they are very unified and more misinformed than ever. They don't get it. I know for a fact there are teams that would lose much less money by not playing than if they played. If you are an owner, why would you agree to lose more money when this is your one chance to reset the equation? The players are being walked right down the gangplank and don't see it coming."
Well, here we go again.
The CBA expires at midnight on Sept. 15. The lockout will begin on that day. Training camps will be suspended. Some players and coaches will return home to their summer dwellings, others will probably get some ice time on their own and continue the process of team building.
continued plus Paul Kelly checks in with some CBA discussion...
from Chris Stevenson at the Toronto Sun,
The one surprising thing is the amount of vitriol and personal attacks on Bettman for the current labour situation.
The Bettman has his share of haters, many of them Canadian and a few in the media. When the fans and the media are about to be deprived of their NHL hockey fix, there's got to be a bad guy, right?
I don't think it bothers him.
The fact is, there is only one court of opinion that matters when it comes to the commissioner and that's what the 30 owners who pay his $8 million a year salary think.
At this point, they've got to think The Bettman is doing a pretty good job, no?
Look, I don't have a dog in this fight but clearly Bettman is winning this battle.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The NHL has rejected the NHLPA’s request to convene to discuss “non-core” economic issues in the wake of the breakdown of talks last Friday.
“We actually don’t think that meeting on the other issues while the main economic issues remain uncertain would be particularly constructive or productive in terms of resolving those issues,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email to The Post. “A lot has already been done and most of those issues are teed up for resolution if the main issues can be addressed.”
The Post has learned the NHL proposals feature a “management rights” clause under which the league would assume unilateral power over issues including realignment, scheduling and playoff format.
The union refused to give its assent last year to the league’s proposed realignment plan for 2012-13 that would have created a four-conference (division) format, with attendant changes in scheduling and playoff structure.
“You can’t compare hockey to any industry but to the sports industry. I get many (negative) comments on Twitter and I don’t even start arguing because I’m in a no-win situation.
“Say we take a 20-per-cent pay cut. Tell Vinnie Lecavalier his $10 million will go down to $8 million. ‘Poor him,’ people might say. But the point is, he’s got a contract that was agreed to by both sides and he’s still losing $2 million.
“If the league is doing so well that we want a pay increase, they’ll say, ‘No way, this is a contract we agreed to.’ It should be the same the other way. We don’t mind in a way restricting our growth to help the league, but why should we go back on what we’ve already agreed to? Nobody forced (owners) to give out these contracts.”
-Mathieu Darche, who has UFA status and has been heavily involved in the CBA negotiations. More on Darche's playing status and the CBA from Dave Stubbs of Hockey Inside/Out.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
While we await the NHL and NHL Players’ Association to resume talks -- no scheduled sessions at this point -- here’s a little nugget I found interesting from the summer’s negotiating sessions: The league has proposed to the NHLPA to have free agency start July 10 instead of the long-standing July 1 opening day, two sources told ESPN.com.
Small potatoes compared to the big economic issues both sides are arguing about, but nonetheless interesting at least to me.
For years, many of us have talked about how silly it was for the NHL to conduct some of its biggest business on July 1, a national holiday in hockey-mad Canada, and just a few days from the July 4 U.S. holiday. Talk about not maximizing your coverage for big signings.
And yes, I will admit for the sake of full disclosure that I have continually harangued NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and second-in-command Bill Daly about this very issue.
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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