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The reason there’s no agreement yet is that Gary Bettman has made promises he can’t keep. And if he doesn’t keep them and loses half an NHL season — or more — in the process, he will be out of a job that pays him $8 million a year.

That’s why there’s been little negotiation from the NHL. That’s why there’s no hockey. And that’s why there won’t be hockey until the owners order Bettman to sit down and negotiate, or a union decertification forces the league to bargain instead of bleed.

See, Bettman promised seven or eight owners that he could get another lopsided deal. If he doesn’t get it after losing a billion dollars in league revenue, he’s probably out of a job.

So Bettman is holding up the game to save himself, and one imagines he’s still convincing a small group of men that he can squeeze more from the players. That small group of owners, in turn, is keeping the arenas silent.

-Barry Rozner of the Chicago Daily-Herald where you can read more on this topic.

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: gary+bettman



Rozner’s theory is an interesting one: that this continues only because Bettman wants to save face. It’s entirely possible that’s why he keeps insisting on both an immediate reduction to some arbitrary number (as opposed to a gradual one) and a slew of contract changes that, by and large, even the “hawks” don’t give a fig about.

But one place he’s wrong is this

Unfortunately, it misses the point because a deal is already on the table, waiting to be approved by the owners.

The assumption he’s making here isn’t correct. While there was little reason for a lockout in the first place (at least, from where I’m sitting), that doesn’t mean Donald Fehr has yet proposed anything that could end it. Asking to detach projections (estimated player comp) from projections (estimated revenue), and instead attaching actuals (guaranteed player comp) to projections (estimated revenue) is a change and it’s a suggestion that didn’t fly when Goodenow proposed it, doesn’t fly now that Fehr proposed it and won’t fly no matter who sits in Bettman’s chair in the future.

The owners would sooner re-upp last year’s deal than put pen to pad on that. And no, Fehr didn’t propose that either. He wanted to use last years’ raw numbers to play without a CBA so he could strike.

Posted by larry on 11/26/12 at 11:34 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

He wanted to use last years’ raw numbers to play without a CBA so he could strike.

Posted by larry on 11/26/12 at 10:34 PM ET

Entire post was a really good point, until this last sentence. Now you’re the one making a huge assumption.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 11/27/12 at 09:21 AM ET

phillyd's avatar

I agree with larry right up until his last point. I will say that I do believe there was always a fear with the owners as the last time they continued to play a season on an old CBA without a new one there was a strike for a couple weeks.

I think the other side of this needs to be examined as well and what Fehr’s position is. He has promised his players they won’t lose a dime on their existing contracts and every proposal he’s put forth is geared towards that end. I think the NHL realized this with the “Make Whole” provisions, they’re just trying to figure out a way to get to this point while still getting what those 8 or so owners want in the CBA. I just wish the two of them would sit down and be honest with each other because talks would probably go forward. Negotiating time has really passed and it’s about compromise and agreement.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 11/27/12 at 10:59 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I absolutely think the players would have threatened and very likely gone ahead with a late-season playoff-killing strike during the negotiating process.

And that’s with being as pro-player as I am.

Let’s face it: in the calculations about when the players have the maximum leverage over the owners AND the least to lose by disrupting hockey, the time of year where the NHL is gearing up towards their second season (the one where ticket prices AND attendance both go up) is already a good time to put financial pressure on them by threatening a strike.

Add in the fact that all players’ salaries are paid out during the season and they essentially aren’t paid for the playoffs and you’ve got a double-whammy. I find it very difficult to believe that the league accepting that on its face and playing out the season wouldn’t have led to a later work stoppage.

Of course, the league could have countered that by only offering to negotiate while playing if the players agreed in principle to a strike/lockout moratorium that extended through the Stanley Cup Finals and that during that time, player escrow withholdings would be 50% (to make sure that whatever new system was put in place would be available to be funded immediately and that the players would have money left-over).

Then again, the NHLPA could have also offered that exact same thing while offering to play a season based loosely on the old CBA and they didn’t do that either.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/27/12 at 11:39 AM ET


Entire post was a really good point, until this last sentence. Now you’re the one making a huge assumption.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 11/27/12 at 08:21 AM ET

JJ pretty much covered it.

But if anyone has any ideas as to why Fehr wanted to play without a CBA rather than extend a CBA the PA said they were happy with other than that the former gives the PA the freedom to strike, I’m all ears.

Posted by larry on 11/27/12 at 02:23 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

I’m personally opposed to No Strike Clauses in contracts because it limits the power of labor in a way that is not limited for the management. But I’m not on the negotiating committee.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 11/27/12 at 02:57 PM ET

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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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