Kukla's Korner Hockey
“I’m focused on making a deal. I’m not even exploring right now what we might or might not do on Sept. 15. That’s not something we’re focused on. We’re focused on getting a deal done before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires.”
-Gary Bettman after Wednesday’s CBA session. More from Dan Rosen of NHL.com.
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,
The meeting lasted approximately 2½ hours, the majority of which devoted to a more detailed explanation of the league’s initial proposal submitted last Friday.
The proposal, which reportedly included salary rollbacks, term limits, a decreased share and a redefinition of hockey-related revenue, was the subject of further review and scrutiny by the 15 players in attendance, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and several lawyers.
“The purpose of the meeting was for them to give us a more detailed explanation of the proposal they made last week,” Fehr said outside the league offices in midtown Manhattan. “They did that. We got certain additional information. We indicated there was some further information that we’ve requested. Hopefully, we begin to get that tomorrow and begin to talk about some of the aspects of it.”
Fehr declined to divulge the specifics of the NHL’s plan, which sent reverberations across the league by the concessions it would require. But Fehr confirmed the NHL asked the players to reduce their share in hockey-related revenue.
“Yeah, I think that’s fair,” Fehr said. “They certainly were.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The last time around, Gary Bettman pledged that NHL “cost certainty” in the guise of a percentage-of-the-gross hard cap would, in no particular order, make ticket prices more affordable, increase franchise values across the board, and give small-market clubs every opportunity to become profitable.
Seven years later, the CBA won from the ashes of the canceled 2004-05 season has accomplished none of these objectives. And yet the commissioner, the Board of Governors and the NHL are doubling down on their own flawed concept with a collective bargaining strategy amounting to little more than reaching as deep as possible into the players’ pockets.
A system in which the payroll of revenue-poor clubs is linked to the amount of revenue generated by the league’s powerhouse franchises is fatally flawed — incoherent and doomed to fail no matter how low the league wants the players to go.
And yet here we are again, the league right out of the gate having proposed the players take 22 percent less (a much smaller percentage of a much smaller pot) without any sort of plan or inclination to funnel additional dollars to the small market franchises that cannot economically keep pace with the big boys.
from Ian Mendes of the Ottawa Citizen,
So as the league and the NHLPA get set for another round of collective bargaining sessions this week, I thought it would be interesting to tackle some issues that could actually impact the fans and their enjoyment of the sport.
Here are five things that I think fans might like to see in the new CBA:
1. Teams must disclose financial terms on contracts
When your favourite team signs a player to a contract, you only have two questions: How much did he sign for and what’s the length of the deal? But when a new deal is announced, the majority of teams in the NHL fail to disclose that critical information to their fan base….
2. Put an end to the current no-trade clauses available to players
For a passionate hockey fan, there is nothing more frustrating than watching your favourite player demand a trade — and then get to hand-pick his destination….
3. Let teams trade money — or cap space — in a trade
As hockey fans, we miss blockbuster trades. The introduction of the salary cap and the provision that teams cannot exchange money in a trade has basically killed significant trades in the NHL. By allowing teams to trade money, it would open up the door to more trades….
more on each point plus two more…
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.
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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