Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Remember when the NHL’s ice surfaces were all painted with the simpering, “Thank You Fans” message after the last lockout? Here’s hoping fans remember it and say, “thanks, but no thanks” this fall, especially if fall without hockey stretches into November or December, which is when everyone figures the real pressure points for the players and the owners will come into play.
Surely with so much wealth and so much optimism surrounding the game, the game itself deserves the best effort from its owners and its players.
Because if the owners and their players don’t respect what’s been built enough to get the deal done, then why should the fans bother?
And so a suggestion as the clock ticks towards the Sept. 15 end of the collective bargaining agreement: How about a pledge from the owners that they will bargain through the end of the agreement and into the coming season?
The players have already said they are willing to do so.
So how about a commitment from the owners that they will not lock out the players and a similar commitment from the players that they will not strike?
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Pay no attention. Ignore them.
That’s about the best advice anyone can give a hockey fan these days as the NHL and NHL Players Association start the verbal sparring of yet another round of collective bargaining negotiations that almost certainly will result in another work stoppage.
For the “crime” of loving the game too passionately and supporting the 30 NHL clubs too enthusiastically in the wake of the last lockout, NHL fans and customers will now pay the price of watching the league and players demonstrate once more they care more about the business of the game than the sport or the fans.
They’ll shut the game down, at least for a while, because the fans didn’t punish them emphatically for shutting it down the last time. And it appears nothing will stop that from happening.
added 6:58pm, from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Now that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman ripped the scales of optimism from too many eyes about an NHL lockout, the only question is how long will it be?Will it wipe out an entire season like the owners did in 2004-05 to get the salary-cap system they now say is so impossible to work under that another lockout is necessary? Or will the players and owners manage to get a new collective agreement in time to save the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, the event that kicks off the NHL’s U.S. television coverage and a mega-millions payout from NBC?
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,
Commissioner Gary Bettman made the NHL’s intent very clear, saying the league plans to lock the players out if a new collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached by September 15, when the current CBA is set to expire.
Bettman said this stance was re-iterated to the NHLPA during Thursday’s bargaining session.
“I re-confirmed something that the union has been told multiple times over the last 9 to 12 months. Namely, that the time is getting short and the owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another season so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon. And we believe there’s ample time for the parties to get together and make a deal and that’s what we’re going to be working towards,” Bettman said outside of league offices in midtown Manhattan.
The two sides, which have been engaged in labor talks for six weeks, have five weeks to broker a new deal and a significant divide on a number of issues.
“Our efforts are going to be devoted to making a deal but as I said, the owners are not going to operate under the economics of this collective bargaining agreement,” Bettman said.
added 4:31pm, from Jesse Spector of The Sporting News,
“We obviously have a wide gap to bridge on a whole host of issues, including the significance and importance of revenue sharing (between teams),” Bettman said after Thursday’s negotiating session for a new collective bargaining agreement.
Said Fehr: “Let me just put it this way: There’s a meaningful gulf there. I’ll just leave it at that for now.”
Fehr added one other piece of good news for the negotiations, that the NHLPA expects to present its economic platform on Tuesday in Toronto—exactly one month after the NHL’s initial CBA proposal. That good news also comes with bad news, namely that on Tuesday, the world will learn just how wide of a gap or meaningful of a gulf there is, depending whose terminology you want to use.
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,
With the issue of supplementary discipline a large part of the Wednesday’s agenda, talks grew increasingly contentious between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association during Day 2 of labor negotiations.
Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, wouldn’t go so far as to characterize the negotiations as “adversarial,” but he did concede that there were some tense moments between the two camps.
“At times there have been heated exchanges,” Schneider said. “There’s definitely strong opinions on both sides, especially when it comes to supplementary discipline, but I wouldn’t describe it as adversarial. Not at all.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly similarly downplayed the tension and described the discussions as “lively.”
“I wouldn’t characterize it as tense, I really wouldn’t,” Daly said.
Also, the video version of today’s talks can be watched below, with Bill Daly and Mathieu Schneider commenting…
If the league doesn’t play on time, everyone will lose — especially the group that matters most.
The relatively few, the very proud and the particularly abused.
-Pat Caputo of the Oakland Press where you can read more on this topic.
Updated at 9:43 PM: from Chris Johnston of the CP at the Winnipeg Free Press,
Donald Fehr nearly has all his ducks in a row.
The globe-trotting head of the NHL Players’ Association is just about ready to counter the league’s initial proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement.
He’s likely to make at least part of his pitch during the scheduled talks in New York this week, Fehr told The Canadian Press on Monday.
“I think that there’s certainly a possibility — a reasonable one — that we’ll be in a position to make some further response,” Fehr said in an interview. “Whether we’ll be in a position to make an alternative proposal yet I don’t know.”
Update from George: Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also spoke to the Associated Press about the clock ticking down to September 15th as negotiations continue:
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
There are reasonable, perhaps even essential, tweaks to be made to the 2004-05 CBA. The ebb and flow of business almost guarantees every CBA must change, for a variety of reasons, especially in an age when constant discoveries and innovations in technology provide new business opportunities and potential growth in revenue streams. We weren’t watching NHL games on our wristwatches in October 2005.
What the owners need most today is not a radical new deal with the players, but a new way of dealing with themselves. They need to find a more honest, equitable, dare we say visionary method of spreading the profit and wealth among the 30 guys on their team. The 800 or so union members who play for their teams aren’t the problem, not anymore.
The existing deal guaranteed owners parity on payroll via fixed labor costs. The game itself is balanced, with the playoffs a two-month roulette tournament, offering almost an equal chance among the 16 qualifiers to win the Cup. And the financial growth model works, quite well, considering seven seasons of the current CBA produced 50 percent more in income than the league could build in the years 1917-2004. Amazing growth, when comparing the last seven years with the previous nine decades.
This is a deal that needs to be nipped and tucked. That’s all. The big issues can be pared, middled, modified, massaged, which inevitably means some shift in wealth back to the owners — not unlike what happened in the NFL and NBA.
more plus other hockey topics…
So the CBA negotiations basically can be summarized thusly: The big-market teams don’t want to pay the small-market teams, the small-market teams don’t want to pay the players, and so, of course, the NHL is stuck in its flawed approach that satisfies both of these constituencies while reaching deep into the athletes’ pockets but doing nothing to generate revenue for cash-poor franchises.
-Larry Brooks of the NY Post.
from Etan Vlessing of the Hollywood Reporter,
Canada’s CBC network this week secured the local broadcast and digital rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, but with a twist.
The pubcaster isn’t talking terms for its contract for the Sochi and Rio de Janeiro Games with the IOC, but the speculation is the CBC will pay less if the National Hockey League doesn’t send its pro players to Sochi.
Whether NHL players participate in the Winter Olympics will be decided during the current negotiations on a new labor deal between the pro hockey league and the NHL Player’s Association.
“Certainly they have a right to ask for anything they want, but if the players had any brains, they wouldn’t accept it. But you have to start somewhere.”
“They (owners) have to sell this game,“not destroy it.”
-Ted Lindsay on the CBA negotiations. More on the CBA talks from the AP at the Detroit Free Press.
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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