Kukla's Korner Hockey
The following essay was submitted to cbc.ca Saturday morning. Its author — who wishes to remain anonymous — is a 10-year pro who has played in the NHL, the AHL and overseas. These are his thoughts on the current labour situation:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” — Charles Dickens
Hockey has never been better.
The skill and speed with which today’s game is played is unparalleled. Both the on-ice and off-ice product have soared to new heights, and players and ownership are making more money than they ever have collectively.
But here we are, once again staring right into the teeth of another ugly labour dispute. After the 2004 lockout, the fans came back and forgave the unthinkable skipped season. This time, we shouldn’t be so presumptuous.
The NHL’s initial offer includes a decrease in HRR from its current 57 per cent – 43 per cent in favour of players, down to 54 per cent – 46 per cent in favour of the owners. Coupled with a 22 per cent rollback in player salaries, their shot across the bow leads me to think this doesn’t look good.
We certainly can’t be foolish enough to think that this initial offer will be accepted, but really, what can players do? If owners want to stand pat, eventually players would be forced to cave, or take their chances with another league. (Not going to happen. Ever.) We are hockey players, and that’s all we really want to do.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Seven years after the league was able to impose a 24-percent rollback on existing contracts as one of the terms of the settlement of the lockout that claimed the 2004-05 season, that is just how much the athletes would have sacrificed if the system proposed by the NHL to go into effect next year had been in effect in 2011-12.
That is the calculation drawn by the players’ association following three days of fact-finding meetings with the league on Sixth Avenue that concluded yesterday, according to a memo from executive director Don Fehr that was obtained by The Post.
Fehr wrote: “We learned that the owners’ proposal, if in effect in 2011-12, would have had the following effects:
“(1) Player compensation would have been reduced by $450 million, or 24 percent ... Using the definitions in effect under the current CBA, the ‘46%’ player share in the proposal is really only ‘43% and change.’
“(2) The salary cap would have fall to an Upper limit of $50.8M, a Midpoint of $46.8M, and a floor of only $38.8M.”
The NHL operated last year with an actual cap of $64.3 million and a floor of $48.8 million. If the current CBA were in place next year, the cap would be $70.2 million and the floor, $54.2 million.
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,
Day three of labor talks between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association yielded little news. The two sides met for approximately 2.5 hours Friday to discuss “technical matters,” before wrapping up for the weekend.
According to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, the players’ association is still in the process of gathering information, both with regards to the NHL’s proposal submitted last week and beyond. The NHLPA has not yet submitted a counter-proposal or a proposal of its own, and appears unready to do so at this time.
“When we get to the point where we’re going to formally respond to the proposal they made—by description, by counter-proposal, or by separate proposal of our own—everybody will know,” Fehr said. “We’re not there yet.”
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York,
“We met for two hours, give or take, and spent most of the day discussing the owners’ proposal mostly as it related to how their proposals could change player contracts and would have meaningful effects,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said outside the league offices in midtown Manhattan. “And it’s fair to say that discussion focused in no small part on what would happen to players if the scenario of their proposal was adopted.”
Fehr also confirmed that recent contracts that would be prohibited in such a proposal. For example, the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet that restricted free agent Shea Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night came up in the discussion.
“I will tell you this: that was a subject that did come up briefly today, not at length,” Fehr said. “I’ve always viewed that as long as there’s no collusion or anything involved, that, taking into account the system, the contract speaks for itself, in terms of what people should be doing.
“You’ll have to ask them why they want to modify the system to prevent that kind of choice. I’ll let them speak for themselves.”
“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.
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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