Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
So what happened in hockey over the weekend? Well, 7,500 fans attended the red-hot Minnesota Wild’s prospects camp. A Pittsburgh Penguins’ Twitter feed thanked supporters as 6,000 fans showed up for theirs. Two weeks ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets drew 2,000 fans for a three-on-three scrimmage on a Saturday afternoon.
And in the midst of all this passion, the NHL fired a harsh, opening salvo at its players.
There are two ways to look at this development. First, that this is the beginning of an apocalyptic meltdown. We have seen the owners’ true face and it is Lord Voldemort. Second, that this is simply the start of the process.
from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,
In early collective bargaining contract talks it has become apparent league owners would like to put a limit on the length of contracts. Quite honestly, I have never understood how the majority of players in the NHL Players Association have allowed ridiculous long-term contracts—anything over seven years seems too long to me—to exist for so long. After all, only a select few players in the league are awarded such mega-deals and those contracts hamper the ability of the rest of the members of the union to maximize their earning potential.
What I’d also like to see is a complete abolishment of no-trade and no-movement clauses. A general manager’s inability to move a player is bad for business. Don’t believe me? Just ask the good people of Toronto who have not witnessed a playoff game since 2004 and had to sit back and watch Mats Sundin play out his deal when the team could have improved itself by trading him.
“I think the only thing I can say is it’s a first offer. It’s a starting point. We’re going to consider it and figure out what our counter proposal is going to be. Yes, it is a little shocking when you first look at it but, again, that’s how negotiations work. You aim high and then try to move back from there.
“There is going to have to be a lot of give and take for us to come to an agreement. So we’re not too worried and we’re not panicking right now. We’re just going to take it one meeting at a time.”
-Cory Schneider, goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks on the CBA negotiations. More from Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
... most importantly, is anyone surprised by any of this? Yes, revenues are skyrocketing league-wide, but the NHL has been dropping hints for months now that it was intent on targeting the players’ share of revenues and long-term and front-loaded deals. If the league truly wants a 50-50 split and limits on contract terms, it seems pretty reasonable that this is what the owners would be demanding at this point. We also all knew the league was going to take direct aim at the front-loaded deals that have become the standard for every coveted free agent. So for the league to demand the salaries be the same for each year of the contract is not exactly a shocking development.
Anyone who has been listening to NHL executives talk the past couple of years would have heard them loud and clear when they said one of the current problems with the financial landscape is players are now going directly from entry level deals to the kinds of potentially crippling deals that have become the norm. There was once a time when players would work up to those kinds of deals in their third contracts, not their second. So for the league to demand the entry level status of a player be increased from three to five seasons should not be considered earth-shattering.
Almost all these problems were undoubtedly of the owners’ own making, particularly since they began to circumvent the CBA as soon as the ink was dry. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to make demands that will save them from themselves. The same way Zach Parise and Ryan Suter basically have the right to collude as players and end up with the same team with identical 13-year, $98-million contracts that are front-loaded, the owners have the right to try to make changes so those kinds of contracts no longer exist. If Parise and Suter can get those kinds of salaries and terms of employment, good on them for doing so.
This is not an initial good-faith proposal. This is a shot across the bow of the union and at the players by a war machine that went scorched-earth last time and can pledge to do it again any day commissioner Gary Bettman feels like it.
This is an immediate attempt to measure the willingness of the players to fight, to gauge their unity, to divide and conquer just the way the league succeeded the last time in busting a union undermined by enemies within.
The players have looked into the face of the Board, and they have seen the future. It’s either a trip back to 2004-05 or a trip back to the ’60s.
-Larry Brooks of the NY Post on the recent CBA proposal. Read more from Brooks on this topic.
from Jonathan Willis of the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,
If the NHL gets its way on some of its demands – particularly it’s insistence that players sign five-year deals capped at the rookie maximum – that trickle will expand. To use an Oilers’ example, why would Nail Yakupov be willing to sign for five years on a contract with a base salary of less than $1 million when he could expect to make much more money much sooner in Russia? Particularly if, upon the completion of his five-year entry-level NHL deal, he could look forward to five more years of restricted free agency? Even if he were willing to do so, it seems likely that future drafts would see European players increasingly consider the Kontinental Hockey League as a viable option.
Another interesting wrinkle is the NHL/KHL memorandum of understanding. As things stand, the KHL respects NHL contracts, not poaching talent on deals, and the NHL does likewise. If, however, the NHL starts kneecapping its teams’ ability to compete financially with the KHL, the incentive of the Russian league to respect NHL rules would undoubtedly be greatly reduced.
The possibility exists that the league owners don’t care. What they’re asking for is a huge spike in the amount of money they get to take home, massive restrictions on the negotiating power of individual players, and a much longer time period before talented youngsters start earning big money.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Seven years after mortally wounding the Players’ Association, the NHL Board of Governors is moving in for yet another kill, its first collective bargaining submission yesterday in Toronto as much a declaration of war as an initial proposal off which to negotiate.
The league power brokers who canceled the 2004-05 season in order to get the hard cap that is contained in the CBA that expires on Sept. 15 after seven seasons of unprecedented revenue growth, are essentially challenging the players, now led by Donald Fehr, to accept another round of massive givebacks or be prepared to miss 2012-13.
Unless the players cave in historic fashion, a lengthy lockout is a certainty.
Sources within the industry last night told The Post the league is not only demanding the players accept a cut in their percentage of the gross from the current 57 percent to 46 percent, but also recalculating the definition of Hockey Related Revenue so the pot from which the owners and players share would be drastically reduced.
So there’s going to be a lot of “the sky is falling” forecasts, and maybe it will, but I’ll wait until September to put on my hard hat.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 14, 2012
Make sure to check out McKenzie’s recent tweets on this topic.
NHL proposal to players: 1-reduce players hockey related revenues to 46% from 57 %. 2-10 seasons in NHL before being UFA.— Renaud P Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) July 14, 2012
3-contracts limites to 5 years 4-no more salary arbitration. 5- entry-level contract 5 years instead of 3.— Renaud P Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) July 14, 2012
Update from George: From Larry Brooks:
Post has learned proposal not only would reduce share to 46% of HRR as per @RenLavoieRDS but would redfine HRR to dramatically reduce gross— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) July 14, 2012
Post has learned proposal calls for ceiling to be set $4M above midpoint, floor $8M under— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) July 14, 2012
Post has learned proposal would eliminate signing bonuses and mandate same salary in each season with 5-yr term limit— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) July 14, 2012
First a short video with both Bettman and Fehr talking, then a follow-up story from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com.
added 6:51pm, Michael Grange of Sportsnet has much more detail from today’s meeting, well worth the click.
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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