Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,
You get the feeling that Gary Bettman loves his lockouts. This is Bettman’s thing. Shut down the league. Grind the players to powder. Go back to the owners and get his own salary bumped up for having satisfied the owners’ greed.
Then come back five or 10 years later and say that the salary system he shut down the league to get is unworkable, so he has to shut it down again. Why? Because he wants to. Because he can.
Last time round, it seemed like the owners had a case. We were on the fence, until the latter stages of the lockout, when Bettman morphed into Richard M. Nixon.
This time, it is Bettman who has presented an entirely irrational plan, one the NHLPA would be mad to accept — and it is PA executive director Donald Fehr who responded with a response so rational, so well thought out, that we actually hoped Bettman might accept it, at least as a starting point for a new approach.
“If we are partners, do we have joint control?” Do we get to have an equal say on how the marketing is done, how the promotion is done, where the money is invested, where the franchises are located? Do we have an equal say on when teams are sold, where the money goes? Do we get part of that? Do we have an equal say on how the television arrangements are done? Do we have an equal say on anything? That’s what a partnership normally implies.”
-Donald Fehr. More on the CBA talks from Jeff Z. Klein of Slap Shot at the New York Times.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
...But the line between owners and players is not drawn in the classic sense. Revenue-sharing could become the key point because of how it could affect small-market clubs, a group of eight to 10 franchises that includes the Blue Jackets.
Because of this, it’s possible that as talks progress, they could pit owner against owner. The small-market owners could find themselves siding with players against the large-market owners, the power-brokers in the league.“I think as many as eight NHL owners would accept the NHLPA’s initial proposal,” said an NHL player agent who spoke to The Dispatch on the condition of anonymity. “And there’s probably four to six others who would find the proposal acceptable enough that they could tweak a couple of things and live with it.”
But don’t expect any owner to acknowledge that publicly. The NHL has threatened a fine of at least $1 million to any club that speaks out during the lockout.Any disagreement would have to be confined to private talks among owners. One NHL executive told The Dispatch last week that Bettman has the “full support of every owner in the room right now.”
Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs and Philadelphia owner Ed Snider hold considerable sway with Bettman and are strongly opposed to revenue-sharing. Those clubs, along with Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, the New York Rangers, Toronto and Vancouver, would stand to lose the most revenue.
“I’m afraid it looks like two months. Everybody’s talking that they’re going to be out two months.” It’s a lockout, it’s a shame. Everybody’s making money but everybody wants more money, and wouldn’t you? And that’s the way it works. It’s too bad.
“It’s hard to believe we’re going to miss hockey for two months.”
-Don Cherry of Hockey Night In Canada, via Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun.
from Scott Stinson of the National Post,
When Bettman and his allies insist that the league has financial difficulties, what he really means is that a handful of teams bleed money like stuck pigs. Two teams, Phoenix and Columbus, account for almost a third of league losses all on their own. Then there is the evidence of the past summer that suggests even owners from some of the small, low-revenue markets are a hell of a long way from the poor house. Carolina, which lost money last year, signed Jordan Staal to a US$60-million contract extension and gave Alexander Semin a one-year, US$6.7-million deal. Nashville, which lost money, matched Philadelphia’s 14-year, US$110-million bid for Shea Weber. Minnesota, which lost money, gave Ryan Suter and Zach Parise a combinedUS $196-million. These are not the moves of business entities that are teetering on the edge of financial ruin.
The question of what will break the impasse, most likely, will come down to resolve. Every sports lockout involves a group of wealthy owners who did not become wealthy owners by sticking up for one another and looking out for the little guy. These are highly self-interested people. How much patience will the owners of the high-value franchises have for missing games when the only teams suffering under the current system are a smattering of franchises in lousy markets? On the player side, will they stick to their counter-proposal or be cowed if they start missing paycheques?
Fehr, on a conference call with reporters on Friday, allowed that “no players would like to miss games.” But he also said the players are prepared to do so. They gave up an awful lot in the last lockout, he noted, and the owners’ current demands, including a reduction of the players’ share of revenues from 57% to 43%, would see them give all that up again, and more.
“They understand what that means,” he said.
It means the NHL is trying to lean on them. Grind concessions out of them, especially once the missed games begin. In other leagues, the tactic has produced a win.
I know most readers are getting tired with the same old news regarding the CBA and truthfully, I get tired of posting it.
So let me make this short and sweet.
Donald Fehr held a media phone conference today and here are a few of the highlights.
Fehr mentioned he will be speaking with Bettman in the coming days, before the next joint CBA meeting is scheduled.
Fehr said he remains hopeful NHLPA proposal will be basis for talks going forward. After what Bettman told media on Wed, that’s doubtful.— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) August 17, 2012
Fehr,only players salaries capped.No limit on Coach,GM,etc. salaries.This addressed in proposal,‘non player costs’,need for control.— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) August 17, 2012
from Michael Traikos of the National Post,
Wake me when it’s over.
That’s how most fans probably feel about the latest squabble between the NHL and the players’ union. They’re fed up.
Don’t talk to them about revenue sharing or salary rollbacks. Don’t tell them one side is being greedy and the other unreasonable. They don’t want to hear it. Not after what happened last time.
In 2004-05, a full season of a hockey was wiped out because of an unwillingness to introduce the salary cap. Eight years later, the existence of the salary cap is not even an issue anymore. Instead, a debate over relative shares of hockey-related revenues could threaten the season from starting. It could be about midi-chlorian counts and magic beans, for all fans care.
All that matters is that it appears we are going to lose more games. How many? It’s hard to say yet, but the doomsday preppers are already planning for the worst.
from Justin Bourne of The Score,
I don’t know if the NHLPA is pushing for more player tweets trying to sway the public opinion, I don’t know if agents are behind keeping their clients’ feeds PR friendly, .... What I do know, is that some of the feeds are not being run by the players themselves, and that’s half the reason many of them are so goddamn painful.
added 6:59pm, from the CP at CBC,
One day after hearing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman say a “wide gap” remained in collective bargaining negotiations, players were still upset the owners quickly dismissed their initial proposal this week.
“The industry’s grown a billion dollars since [the lockout] and basically they just want more money,” Chris Campoli, a member of the NHLPA’s negotiating committee, said Thursday.
“I thought in our proposal we made a step and considerable concessions to them,” he added. “Frankly, it was a little disappointing to see the response yesterday and the view they have on it.”
from Michael Grange of Sportsnet,
...we’re proposing an NHL collective bargaining agreement to end all further labour stoppages, one that those without a vested interest—other than, you know, funding the whole venture with your money and passion—deem fair to both sides and which will actually contribute to the overall health of the game and the fan experience, rather than simply be whatever happens when the billionaires and millionaires go into sudden-death overtime.
—A league that’s robust—I never want the NHL’s news agenda driven by disasters like the Phoenix Coyotes again.
—A league in which the top players earn something approximating what they’re worth.
—A league in which franchises operating in markets that are passionate about hockey can match their fans’ passion by investing to build winners. Nashville and Columbus are welcome in my NHL, but not if carrying them means Toronto or Boston or an inspired ownership in Edmonton can’t spend as much as it wants to build teams and be attractive to stars.
Here we go—how to end CBA negotiations forever in five easy steps. Gary Bettman and Don Fehr have been cc’ed.
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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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