Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 09/14/12 at 01:22 PM ET
This is particularly interesting, and it's particularly disappointing given that it's an Insider-only article. ESPN's Craig Custance spoke to a former member of the Board of Governors and a player agent about the potential for a long lockout, and the governor suggested that Bettman has both the supreme confidence of the owners after delivering a hard cap...
"I would assume Gary is still being Gary. He's gone through this once. He did what no one had ever done before," a former NHL governor said. "He has the playbook."
And that Bettman does something very, very smart in terms of keeping owners both informed and in the dark regarding negotiations--essentially employing the opposite strategy of Donald "Let's tell every player what's going on after each meeting" Fehr, and instead utilizing the same techniques that government contractors do when working on secret projects. He tells them all they need to know while skipping the "unnecessary" or "irrelevant" details (emphasis on "irrelevant" as Bettman used it to refer to the 100,000+ pages of audited hockey-related revenue books that the NHL delivered to the PA in late July, which were essential to truly begin negotiations):
"My phone would ring randomly it seemed like once a week for a very long period of time. He would be calling me to update me on the negotiations, provide me on insights to the league's strategy," he said. "A call could last three minutes or it could last an hour. I assume he was doing the same thing with everybody else. He built up a lot of street cred with me, certainly. It enabled him to lead from the front and not allow a faction of owners or another faction to take over the room."
Do the owners have any incentive to get the business of playing hockey underway?
Sure. Sort of.
"There's huge pressure," a former alternate governor said. "If you're in Minnesota, you want to be back to work. Go right down the list -- New York, Los Angeles."
But, he points out, that pressure works both ways.
"Right now, there are 25 or 26 teams with players going into camp thinking they can win the Stanley Cup this year," he said. "When you have that many players that hungry because they have a team that can win, it's pressure."
So when do "negotiations" really begin?
"Maybe that pushes a little bit of something," a team executive said. "I've always said this whole time, I don't think we're going to get juice until the end of the month or the first part of October ... Once you start rolling up on missing a paycheck or missing a gate, now it's a lockout. That affects business. Let's just wait."
Custance continues, but very regrettably, the rest of his article's behind a paywall.
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