Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Grange of Sportsnet,
What is getting easier to predict is that the opportunities to prevent a lockout—and perhaps a long one—are beginning to run short. There is frustration creeping in on both sides and the feeling in the owners camp is that if the players aren’t willing to move their position on Tuesday there might be a real impasse and talks will simply break down.
“Sometimes the best way to get a deal is to take a break,” said one source close to the negotiations.
For obvious reasons—history being the main one—the players don’t trust the owners, arguing that even should Bettman show some flexibility in how to achieve the salary cuts he wants, a salary cut is a salary cut is a salary cut.
Meanwhile the owners aren’t sure what to make of Fehr at this stage; how much of the resistance he’s been showing is posturing and how much is real.
from Colby Cosh of MACLEANS,
Canadians who are capable of outrage, if there are any, should make their views known to the League, to the trustees, to the front offices of their local NHL clubs, to their cousin who plays on the fourth line of the Preds, to their MP and their Senators, to their local newspaper, to their barroom buddies… in short, they should make nuisances of themselves. And lawyers, who excel at making nuisances of themselves, should follow Tim Gilbert’s example and think about what they could do to free the Cup from its fetters. There must be a half-dozen future Orders of Canada in such a project.
Are we the doormat of nations? Let us at least begin to murmur angrily. The Cup is ours. When we say “Not again” as the NHL’s negotiations with its players bog down, let our tone be wrathful, poisonous, rather than despairing.
from Tom Benjamin of canuckscorner,
I’m feeling a lot less optimistic after the meetings this week between the NHL and the NHLPA. Gary Bettman did not respond positively to the NHLPA proposal – and by that I mean he did not soften the league position at all – so it is now clear that the league is on a path that was laid out years ago, about the time the ink on the last CBA was drying.
Gary Bettman today: “We think we’re paying too much in salaries… We want something close to what we envisioned eight years ago.”
(I can’t be surprised at this because the system that emerged in 2005 put the players squarely in the crosshairs for 2012. The NFL and NBA learned from the NHL lockout and all three leagues are sitting in the catbird seat. The idea that Gary Bettman and his cronies would put any value on labour peace at all was wishful thinking.)
The real problem, of course, is that Bettman is not afraid of any long term damage from a lockout. When asked about that today, he responded with “We recovered last time because we have the world’s greatest fans.” Gary crowed about this factor at a meeting in Boston earlier this year.
from Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star,
There is no reason for Gary Bettman to fear a lockout, or even the loss of an entire season. History has already taught him that a year off is good for business. A year off reminds his captive audience what they’re missing.
Despite the handwringing from the grassroots types and those who want to see the game thrive in the tropics, lockouts are good for the NHL.
We hear the same noise this time around that we heard last: “Fans will move on … they’ll be too angry to tune back in … the NHL will be replaced by — what? — the CFL?”
It’s nonsense and we all know it. Hockey fans aren’t going anywhere. They’ll linger around the locked gates for a month, or three months or a year, grumbling. And when someone removes the padlock and invites them back in, they’ll come.
They may be upset, and it may take a while, but they’ll all come back eventually. They have nowhere else to go.
The people who think a work stoppage can kill the love of the professional game are making this mistake — they think of hockey fandom as transactional, as some sort of retail experience.
from Ben Kuzma of The White Towel at the Vancouver Province,
KELOWNA — NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr negotiates privately behind closed doors rather than publicly in front of a sea of microphones. However, it’s not surprising that the NHL owners’ proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement that includes contracts limited to five years with entry-level deals going from three to five years, the abolishment of arbitration and 10 years of service required to become an unrestricted free agent has rubbed the players the wrong way.
“It’s no secret that there are things that are very important to players and they become more important in certain kinds of systems,” Fehr said Tuesday after concluding two days of meetings here with 38 NHLPA members. “What would it take to get players to move off those kind of things would be major concessions on the other side. A concession is when you give up something you have, not when you modify a position about something you don’t have. If somebody said I asked for everything you have and now I’ll only take half of everything you have, that’s not a concession. It’s when I say I’ll give you something.”
added 6:25pm, TSN has video of Fehr meeting with the media after today’s session.
Jeremy Roenick did a radio interview last night with Josh Rimer of NextSportStar and discussed numerous topics including the CBA, Shane Doan and as you can see, Sidney Crosby.
You can download the whole show (339mb, .mov file) if you care to watch/listen from start to finish.
Roenick on Sid, “And then you have the Pittsburgh Penguins who give the guy who has the biggest concussion problems in all of hockey a…— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) August 21, 2012
More Roenick, “...10-year deal or whatever Sidney Crosby got. I hope this concussion clause is in there. I think Sidney Crosby is the….— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) August 21, 2012
More Roenick, “....best player in the game, don’t get me wrong, but when you have concussion problems the way that he has….— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) August 21, 2012
More Roenick, “....in the last year and a half and you give him a 10-year deal, is that smart business? I don’t think so.”— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) August 21, 2012
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
The owners want more money. This is all you need to know about the current impasse.
Eight years after the game was shut down for a season, the owners and their henchman Gary Bettman are back. They got everything they wanted last time - a reduction in salaries, a hard cap, entry-level restrictions, and all with only modest revenue sharing - and they said that deal would insure the game’s prosperity.
Now they want more. Now they want to fix it so they can’t lose.
Maybe it’s understandable. They crushed the union last time. They feel they can do it again.
Is it a perfect CBA? No, but both sides get their principal points done. In the end, it walks as close down the middle as one feasibly can and would leave a number of constituents on both sides grumbling. Most importantly, I can only imagine that a few extremists on either side would absolutely hate this, which means it’s doable.
Of course CBA negotiations rarely get to a middle-of-the-road compromise—they usually lean one way or the other. But how about they bring this model to their big meeting on Wednesday and use it as a starting point?
-Mike Chen at SB Nation where you can continue reading to see Mike’s proposal.
from Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star,
An Ottawa-based economic think tank has a solution to the National Hockey League’s labour headaches that fans of small-market teams will love, but owners of the league’s cash cows will probably loathe — competitive balance through extensive revenue sharing.
With the league’s collective bargaining agreement set to expire Sept. 15, owners have proposed a new deal that includes trimming the players’ share of revenue from 57 per cent to 46 per cent. While that approach might ensure even money-losing franchises would break even, Glen Hodgson of the Conference Board of Canada says players would never accept it.
And neither would fans.
“The (average) fan says put some revenue sharing options on the table as a way to get this done,” says Hodgson, the Conference Board’s senior vice president and chief economist. “(But) that means rich teams are going to have to give up some money.”
I’ve been told since before the NFL lockout that the NHL would have big problems this time around.
I’ve mentioned here a convention in D.C. last summer when 600 sports lawyers, agents, etc., where the union heads and management reps in labor negotiations of the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB were almost all in attendance and spoke at length, took questions.
It was clear that the NHL was more likely to lose games, or a season with a lockout than the NFL. So I expect bad news, because that’s how the owners want it, rather than good news.
These labor wars get set up YEARS in advance. The public is told “It’s not so bad. It’ll get worked out,” even when people on the inside know that they are planning for it NOT to work out and just want to delay the date when they start taking flack for missing games.
I’d be glad to be wrong on the NHL. But the way to bet is that it’s worse than you think it is.
-Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell via Capitals Insider.
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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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