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NHLPA preparing to offer its counter-proposal on Tuesday; it may include a luxury tax

Updated at 12:55 AM on Tuesday: Tomorrow is one of the few days in mid-August where those who cover the NHL in any way, shape or form have cleared their calendars. The NHLPA will make its CBA counter-proposal to the NHL, and via both Twitter and in an article, the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston reports that the NHLPA plans on offering something very, very different in comparison to what the owners offered:

“What we expect to do tomorrow is to put forth an alternative view as to what we should do next,” Fehr said Monday. “That’s the best way I can put it.”

It’s a bold move with a Sept. 15 deadline looming for a lockout. The initial offer from the NHL called for a lowering of the players’ share in revenue and introduced new contract restrictions, among other things. There wasn’t one aspect of it that appealed to the union, with one source saying the NHLPA felt it was designed to “anger and provoke” rather than kickstart meaningful discussions.

Despite that, the union thoroughly examined it over the last month before deciding there was no true counter-proposal to be made. Fehr will instead offer up a “different kind of an approach”—one that no doubt includes expanded revenue sharing and more flexibility than is currently allowed under the league’s rigid salary cap system.

“It’s how the players see the world,” said Fehr.

There’s a strong possibility that a) the plan will be more or less released to the public, either in its entirety or via an obviously active corps of Twitter-using players in attendance, and b) that it will attempt to address revenue sharing by introducing a luxury tax:

During Fehr’s time with baseball’s players’ union, he fought vehemently against a salary cap and it’s believed he’s strongly in favour of lessening the impact of the one the NHL instituted after losing the entire 2004-05 season to a lockout. One way to do that is to introduce a luxury tax for teams that spend above a specific threshold.

It’s unclear if the NHLPA might be able to interest owners in that kind of system. Asked specifically about how he felt about a luxury tax on Monday, [NHL commissioner Gary] Bettman declined comment by saying he won’t negotiate publicly.

Negotiations are about to pick up pace. Despite the fact the sides have been talking throughout the summer, they finally seem ready to get down to work.

“All things in this world at this stage of this negotiation are possible,” said Fehr.

The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts, perhaps keeping the same tone as that, “Blame the players just as much as the owners” editorial the Globe fired off on Sunday night, is worried about what will happen…

If Fehr and the players share any of the details after Tuesday’s presentation, it also means the rest of us get to see just how far apart the two sides are. Do not be surprised if it shows Fehr’s remark last week of a “meaningful gulf” sounds optimistic.

The owners see any solution as coming strictly out of the pockets of the players. They want to reduce not only the players’ share of the hockey-related revenue (HRR) from 57 per cent to 46 per cent but to exclude enough revenue from HRR to further shrink their share to 43 per cent. They also want to increase the eligibility of unrestricted free agency to 10 years, eliminate salary arbitration and limit contract to five years.

Those would be the same owners who were handing out deals last month for 10-plus years and more than $100-million. Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, for example, went from giving 13-year, $98-million contracts to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter one day to sitting at the table a few days later when the owners demanded Parise, Suter and the rest of the players take a 24-per-cent cut to those salaries. This sounds outrageous and hypocritical to be sure but try and look at things from their perspective. They rolled over the NHLPA in the 2004-05 lockout and forced players to accept a hard salary cap and a 24-per-cent cut to those salaries. And it cost NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow his job, which thrilled more than a few owners.

That is why NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s salary went from $3.7-million in 2005 to just shy of $8-million today. Sports commissioners are paid big bonuses for three things – a good labour agreement in the eyes of the owners, a good television agreement and expansion fees. The head of a union leader on a pike is pure gravy. So as long as your curve ball is getting the opposition out, you keep throwing it. Even if the opposition signs a star free agent such as Fehr.

The trouble for the fans is that this time around it looks like Fehr has the players educated and committed enough to hang in there long enough to hit that curve and throw a few of their own. That is why Tuesday’s presentation is not a counteroffer in the traditional sense of the word. It will be a series of suggestions on a new way of doing things. When he was asked last month if the players were willing to suggest dropping the salary cap for a new system, such as one based on a luxury tax for big spenders and greater revenue sharing, Fehr did not hesitate to say yes, if the players think it is needed.

A look around the league shows some radical thinking is certainly necessary. The Phoenix Coyotes are headed toward their fourth season as a ward of the state while yet another would-be owner roots around his chesterfield cushions for enough spare change to cover the purchase price. The New Jersey Devils are not facing foreclosure right now only because owner Jeff Vanderbeek’s bankers think it would be more trouble than carrying him until they get a look at a new collective agreement before deciding if he ever has a chance to pay them off.

But with one month from Wednesday left until the collective agreement expires, the only thing the owners are willing to do is make a grab for the players’ piece of the pie.

And while I fully believe that a luxury tax will be involved as a means by which bigger-market and bigger-budget teams can gain a tangible product—a competitive advantage—in exchange for propping up their weaker sisters, it’s hard to say whether that defeats the purpose of a salary cap, or whether that luxury tax will be built into the cap to, say, start with a 50-50 split of revenues and then let a $5-10 million luxury tax, taxed dollar for dollar, increase the players’ share back up to 57% of revenues. Sportsnet’s ever-thoughtful Michael Grange believes that, whatever form the luxury tax proposal takes, it will offer a more meaningful start to negotiations than the owners’ non-starting proposal:

Instead how about an NHL featuring a marketplace that allows rich teams to spend what they want and the best players to earn what they’re worth? Rather than an artificial drag on salaries by way of a hard cap, how about a voluntary tax—a luxury tax—on teams that see fit to invest in talent?

How about an NHL where, rather than weaker markets being propped up squeezing down the cost of labour, franchises that have unique advantages share some of their profits with those that don’t? It’s 180 degrees from what the owners have come to enjoy and the “status quo but better” deal they’re seeking now.

It’s a reflection of what Fehr referred to in a triumph of understatement as “the meaningful gulf” separating the players from the owners. Whether it’s a gulf that can be bridged in a reasonable amount of time or an ocean that will take months to cross is the question that can begin to be answered for the first time in the coming days.

“The game is growing but we want to make it that much better for everyone,” said [Maple leafs forward David Steckel, who described the interest level of the players he’s been responsible for communicating with as ‘sky-high.’ “It’s not just us wanting more money, we want the game to be better for everyone.” If you had a 9-to-5 job and you’re asked to rollback your salaries you’re going to want to know why…that’s what most players saw and are going, ‘how can you ask us to do this again?’” said Steckel. “In seven years you’re asking us to cut our salaries by 48 per cent? We’re not the ones running organizations signing people to deals for $100 million.”

Meanwhile a former NHL governor thinks there is plenty of room for the NHL to move from their initial offer, which called for the players’ share of league revenues to be cut from 57 per cent to 46 per cent or even less depending on a new definition of hockey-related revenue, but the players will have to give up something.

“We’re generating a lot of revenue, but we’re investing to get it,” the former governor said. “The guys at MSG are investing a billion dollars (renovating Madison Square Garden). That’s going to drive up revenue and the players are going to benefit from it but they didn’t put up one penny of that billion.”

Uh, yes, they did. You don’t make a $1 billion investment out of a fart in the wind…

But anyway…

Simply put, the two sides are looking at the sport in fundamentally different ways. If there is a lockout after September 15th it will be hockey’s fourth work stoppage in 20 years. When the players put their vision on the table, it will be the first meaningful moment in a series of meetings that began seven weeks ago and have accomplished little of substance since.

It will be the moment that the negotiations begin for the first time.

That much is certain.

Sportsnet posted a clip of Grange talking about negotiations…

The NHL posted a clip of Chairman Mao—the $8 million man—and Donald Fehr talking about what they’re expecting on Tuesday…

 

And while they’re not embeddable, TSN posted two clips from the negotiations—or the lack thereof—today.

Update: As no one paid attention to what was said on Monday, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reports that the discussions were ironically pertinent:

The negotiating committees from the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association met Monday at the League office for the first of four scheduled days of work toward establishing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The meeting Monday featured NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins delivering a presentation that detailed how the League has grown the business.

“We just finished a presentation by John Collins, our chief operating officer,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The real purpose of this session was to give the players and the Union a sense of how we’ve been growing the business at the league level over the last few years, the types of initiatives we’ve undertaken to grow the game, and how we see prospects for the future. That was really the full extent of the session.”

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said the presentation was “informative and it was interesting. I’m certainly glad they did that.”

Update:

The NHLPA posted a video of Fehr speaking to the media…

The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta is in Toronto, and he offered the following update regarding the counter-proposal—if it’s a counter-proposal at all…

Let’s be clear: The Players weren’t insulted by the NHL’s first offer, despite how various media outlets spun the news. They were more surprised the League was willing to kick-start the process in the manner in which they did. As Fehr indicated, negotiations could have started sooner.

“This is a process, which is ongoing,” he said. “It’s taken day-by-day. The process is to work at it every day, until you find a way to come to an understand and to make an agreement. If that day’s tomorrow, that’s fine. If it’s three weeks from now, that’s fine. I just hope it’s sooner, rather than later. But I’m out of the prediction business.”

Tomorrow, the players—as many as 25 of them, which should include the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin—will meet together before the NHL jumps in the mix. Many fans question why it’s taken the NHLPA one month to retaliate, but the answer is simple.

“First of all, we had to analyze (the NHL’s proposal),” Fehr said. “You don’t turn around proposal for which measure the cost in the billions of dollars over night; not if you’re going to do your due diligence and be appropriately professional in representing your constituents. We have been, and continue to be, in the process of digesting and trying to understand the various pieces of financial information that we have received from the owners. And that takes time.”

Bettman wasn’t willing to tip his hand as to the League’s stance on the PA’s upcoming proposal, but seemed pleased by today’s proceedings.

“Well, there have been a lot of things discussed in the room that will stay in the room, but we thought it was a good idea for the union to understand all of the initiatives and how we operate the business at the League level,” he said. “I’m interested, very interested (to see what the NHLPA brings forward). We’ll have to wait and see. I’m not going to try and speculate as to what they’re going to present tomorrow. I have no idea.”

Bettman seemed uncertain as to what may be put in front of him and the League tomorrow, as Fehr and his members weren’t giving him any clues.

“I’m not sure I understand what an ‘alternative view’ is,” Bettman said. “We’ll wait and see what’s presented, and we’ll respond appropriately.”

And the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan offered the following:

While trying to predict which way the negotiations would sway might seem easy—the NHL won’t be thrilled with what the players present on Tuesday, one can assume - Fehr was not concerned about how to narrow what is sure to be a wide gap between the players’ “alternative view” and the owners’ initial proposal.

“You try to figure out how to get from there to there, if there are common elements,” Fehr said. “You try to work with those and you hash them out. If you don’t have that, hopefully you find some. All things at this stage of the negotiation are possible. This is a process which is ongoing. The process is to work at it every day until you find a way to come to an understanding and make an agreement. If that day is tomorrow, that’s fine, if it is three weeks from tomorrow, that’s fine. I just hope is it sooner rather than later.”

With the NHL apparently on its way to a second lockout in eight years, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr was asked whether collective bargaining agreement talks could not have started earlier. Negotiations with the NHL on a new CBA began at the end of June, with the expiration of the current agreement looming on Sept. 15.

“Could we have?” Fehr said. “In theory you could have started at any time, if the NHL had wanted to, it could have at any time presented us with whatever they wanted to. But I am not concerned with the timing issues at this point.”

The NHLPA had seven players on hand for Monday’s meeting—Chris Phillips, Matt Stajan, Rick DiPietro, Steve Montador, Mathieu Darche, Kyle Quincey and Mike Weaver—but many more are expected on Tuesday when they present what Fehr has called an “alternative view.”

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin tweeted that he will be among those in attendance.

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Comments

Avatar

A luxury tax can function similar to a salary cap if the “tax” is punitive enough.  It will be interesting to see if the PA proposal has a meaningful penalty provision that, in essence, functions like a cap while generating revenues to be shared by the big spenders with the smaller markets of if the PA is simply proposing a rollback of the cap the league gained in the lockout the last time around.  If it is the latter this will likely not end soon.

Posted by Don from Tampa on 08/13/12 at 10:49 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Please correct me if my understanding of the situation is incorrect…

But if folks like Parise, Suter, (and others in similar situations), negotiated for 98 million dollar contracts just to have their boss(es) turn around and dock them 24 million, then they should have the option of returning to free agency.  They didn’t make deal for 74.45 million over 13 years.

Not to mention, every last player in the goddamn league should have the right to take his contract as it is (after the cuts) or renegotiate.  This is the same problem with the attempts at union busting in Wisconsin and Ohio: It isn’t fair to cause people to rely on your word and then go back on it.  That isn’t bargaining, that’s having it both ways.

Whenever you want to change the terms to a contract it has to be bargained for.  That’s contracts 101.  I don’t want to see a lock out, but as long as ownership has this tone with the folks who bring home the bacon, I’m behind them striking 100%.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/13/12 at 10:55 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I think it’s pathetic that the PA waited a month to counter.

Posted by Primis on 08/13/12 at 11:01 PM ET

Avatar

This is the same problem with the attempts at union busting in Wisconsin and Ohio

Say what you want about collective bargaining for NHL players, but it certainly has no relationship to workers making $60,000 per year. Professional athletes do not represent the working class and it is outlandish to compare them.

Posted by timbits on 08/13/12 at 11:24 PM ET

Avatar

How long did the owners wait to make their first ‘proposal’?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/13/12 at 11:26 PM ET

HockeyFanOhio's avatar

I think it’s pathetic that the PA waited a month to counter.

Posted by Primis on 08/13/12 at 09:01 PM ET

I agree with this 100%.  Especially since their counter offer is so different I don’t see why it took so long to review the owners proposal. 

With such a different offer I’m afraid there is going to be a lockout for sure.

Posted by HockeyFanOhio from Central Ohio on 08/13/12 at 11:38 PM ET

Avatar

I think it’s pathetic that the PA waited a month to counter.

Posted by Primis on 08/13/12 at 09:01 PM ET

That’s what happens when the NHL dumps 79,000 pages of information on the NHLPA - information which they had refused in the past to provide.  I don’t know about you - but I’m surprised they got through it all in a month…

Posted by Caniac Lifer from Raleigh, NC on 08/13/12 at 11:38 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Say what you want about collective bargaining for NHL players, but it certainly has no relationship to workers making $60,000 per year. Professional athletes do not represent the working class and it is outlandish to compare them.

Posted by timbits on 08/13/12 at 09:24 PM ET

Thats total BS.  Be it the NHL players/private sector laborers, or public servants, you still have a situation where labor is getting paid less than its fair share.  On the public side, you have legislators that are too shy to talk about raising taxes to pay for government services, and they make up for revenue losses by taking skin off the backs of public employees instead.  In the private sector you have executives (in this case the NHL owners) making big dollars all while trying to reduce labor’s share of the profit.  Its just a matter of scale between an auto worker and a hockey player.  In principle its no different.  Workers deserve fair compensation, no matter how much fair compensation might be.  I don’t think a fair minded person can disagree with that.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/13/12 at 11:51 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Professional athletes do not represent the working class and it is outlandish to compare them.

You’re absolutely right. They are the elite 600ish players in the world, and they should be compensated like it.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 08/13/12 at 11:55 PM ET

Avatar

Be it the NHL players/private sector laborers, or public servants, you still have a situation where labor is getting paid less than its fair share. 

‘Fair share’.

Heh.

The dude that drives the rivets into the doorframe must be as important to the company as the guy who engineered the door, or designed the car, or decided on the model run that season, or fronted the money to build the factory, or who founded the company int eh first place.

Here’s why players (and workers) always lose in these situations, for the most part: they are eminently replaceable.  There are way more people who can work production than their are guys who can draft an engineering plan, and fewer still people who can fund such a plan.

Same thing in sports.  There are always guys who can play hockey in a jersey.  There are fewer guys who can afford to buy a team and are willing to absorb losses.

Now, if you want to tell me that a worker (or a player) would be willing to work under a deal where if the company lost money they weren’t paid, well, you’d have an argument.  Unfortunately, when all you want is a situation where you get money regardless of the outcome… well, the assumption of risk is something that matters, economically.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/14/12 at 12:03 AM ET

calquake's avatar

You’re absolutely right. They are the elite 600ish players in the world, and they should be compensated like it.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 08/13/12 at 09:55 PM ET

Commie. cheese

Posted by calquake on 08/14/12 at 12:10 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/13/12 at 08:55 PM

It wouldn’t be a strike. The players are willing to continue. The owners have explicitly said they will lock the players out until a new agreement that they find satisfactory is in place.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 08/14/12 at 12:18 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

It wouldn’t be a strike. The players are willing to continue. The owners have explicitly said they will lock the players out until a new agreement that they find satisfactory is in place.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 08/13/12 at 10:18 PM ET

A good and meaningful point.  Thank you.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/14/12 at 12:29 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/13/12 at 10:03 PM ET

On your point about drafters vs riveters, I said fair compensation, not equal compensation.  Those aren’t the same thing.  No one is suggesting that Jordin Tootoo is entitled to the same payday as Pavel Datsyuk.  That would be absurd.  However, that doesn’t change the fact that Tootoo deserves to be paid a salary becoming of a professional athlete, especially when the product he generates is making a good profit for his boss. 

And as far as risk assumption goes… Am I to take it that you think playing hockey comes without risks?  There is plenty of that to go around and I’m not about to start congratulating the likes of Ted Leonosis for his lack of risk aversion when I see NHLers who might have their heads bashed in on any given night.

Not to mention, if you want to talk about risk on an economic scale… what do you think would happen to the players if pro hockey went away?  What would happen to the owners?  I acknowledge that this scenario isn’t likely, but I do know that if it did occur, the players wouldn’t be the ones with golden parachutes should the plane go down.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/14/12 at 12:48 AM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Professional athletes do not represent the working class and it is outlandish to compare them.

The NHL’s history is an excellent case study in labor relations in a developing industry.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 08/14/12 at 12:52 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 08/13/12 at 10:52 PM ET

I caught the Ted Lindsay episode of “Pioneers” on the NHLnet yesterday.  The labor fight he and Doug Harvey led took a lot of guts.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/14/12 at 01:03 AM ET

snafu's avatar

Maybe I missed it, but has Crosby been at any of the NHLPA meetings yet?  Grange makes mention of Fehr having an All-Star cast tomorrow, and it occurred to me that Crosby isn’t a name I’ve noticed yet.

Posted by snafu from North America on 08/14/12 at 01:45 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Crosby, Ovechkin, and I believe something like 25 other players are supposed to be there, per RDS’s Renaud Lavoie and others. The PA’s going to have the gang all there tomorrow.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/14/12 at 01:47 AM ET

snafu's avatar

Ah, thanks, George.

Posted by snafu from North America on 08/14/12 at 01:51 AM ET

Paul's avatar

Stamkos too.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 08/14/12 at 01:51 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Caniac nailed it for me about Primis’s statement.

And the players counter proposal was “let’s play under the current CBA, the one where the owners got EVERYTHING they wanted 7 years ago”

NHL’s counter to that.. No..

Counter to that.. well we’ll have to have access to the same financial information from an independent auditor that the league had when drafting THEIR proposal.

Sounds pretty fair to me by the players.  Unless you were incinuating that the NHLPA shouldn’t have access to the same materials the league does when trying to draft a proposal regarding finances.. and I could not see any rational person who would want/expect this.

Not to mention the league has known the CBA is ending since it was drafted.  They’ve had ample time to evaluate the results.  I’m SURE if they were seriously about negotiating and not missing time this season, they could have had a proposal on Fehr’s desk LAST YEAR.  Instead they’re playing a game of hot potato and cooked the grenade before throwing it in the NHLPA’s lap in an effort to brand a work stoppage if there is one, as a result of the players not making a serious effort.  Dirty B at his best.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/14/12 at 02:12 AM ET

Avatar

How long did the owners wait to make their first ‘proposal’?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/13/12 at 09:26 PM ET

Not that I think the owners are, in any way shape or form, right in their proposal…their first proposal was “late” only because Fehr didn’t want to sit down with them until recently. I can remember Bettman saying he was open to talking LAST summer. Those 79000 pages of documents aren’t some request from 10 months ago either. It’s a recent request only recently filled because it was asked for fairly recently. While it’s the only positive thing I can say about the owners, the whole “waiting to the last minute before doing anything at all” business is all Fehr, not them.

Posted by larry from pitt on 08/14/12 at 02:45 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Two years ago Bettman was asked about getting going on negotiations…

His response was “We have plenty of time.”

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 08/14/12 at 03:32 AM ET

Avatar

I said fair compensation, not equal compensation.  Those aren’t the same thing.  No one is suggesting that Jordin Tootoo is entitled to the same payday as Pavel Datsyuk.  That would be absurd.  However, that doesn’t change the fact that Tootoo deserves to be paid a salary becoming of a professional athlete, especially when the product he generates is making a good profit for his boss.

I was just laughing at the notion of ‘fair’ more than anything else, really.  There is no ‘fair’,  There is what you can make.  If players think they can get a better deal with a different team, they are free (within the confines of their CBA) to pursue that.  On a grander scale, ‘fair’ as a function of a CBA represents what they are able to bargain for.

So there is no ‘fair’.  There is only what you can get.

And as far as risk assumption goes… Am I to take it that you think playing hockey comes without risks?

Of course not.  Does being a hockey player require tying up a significant portion of your personal wealth in order to play?  No?  Ah.  The ‘risk’ an NHL player assumes is the baseline risk any employee has, which is ‘God I hope I don’t get fired’.  That’s barely even risk.

Not to mention, if you want to talk about risk on an economic scale… what do you think would happen to the players if pro hockey went away?

Ah, but that’s the point.  If every current NHL player simply retired rather than play under a new CBA do you know what would happen?  The next 600 best players available would then become NHLers… and be thrilled to play under that CBA.  That’s why they always have the weaker bargaining position.

As a point of note, the NHL can’t even find 30 dudes to own teams now.  They still own Phoenix, and NJ is surviving on the sufferance of banks.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/14/12 at 10:56 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

That’s what happens when the NHL dumps 79,000 pages of information on the NHLPA - information which they had refused in the past to provide.  I don’t know about you - but I’m surprised they got through it all in a month…

Exactly.
The players want to see all of the revenue generated by the teams to see what they are entitled too.
The League got cute and sent them the War and Peace of financial reports.
What was the PA supposed to do? They have to go through that with a fine tooth comb.
And from what I’ve read, the PA asked for that documentation a long time ago, but the league dragged their feet and gave them the coles-notes versions.

I’m sorry, but I have zero sympathy for the owners. They’re the ones that have messed up a perfectly good CBA to the point they want to scorch the earth again.

If there’s any games lost, it’s on the owners and nobody else.
Nobody put a gun to their heads and forced them to sign Kovalchuk to a billion dollar deal.
They found loopholes and circumvented a perfectly good CBA that should have meant fiscal responsibility for all.
Instead, they destroyed an agreement that cost US FANS a whole year of hockey.

I for one back the players 100% and they deserve what they’re earning.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/14/12 at 10:59 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Of course not.  Does being a hockey player require tying up a significant portion of your personal wealth in order to play?  No?  Ah.  The ‘risk’ an NHL player assumes is the baseline risk any employee has, which is ‘God I hope I don’t get fired’.  That’s barely even risk.

1.)  Playing hockey requires tying up a lot of your time and comes with an opportunity cost.  How many players made it to the pros after sacrificing the opportunity to get an education or to learn another trade?  What happens if their career is ended by an injury at the end of their contract (especially early in their careers)?  Sure they’ll probably get a job selling carpet in their home town, but the earning potential they will lose is exponentially higher than that of an owner of a failed franchise.

2.)  Most of the team owners wouldn’t be where they are if they made dumb investments.  So I find it hard to believe that owning a hockey franchise is as fraught with peril as you seem to be characterizing it.  As for those NHL franchises that have failed, most of the time its because the NHL expanded into markets it never had any business moving into.  So I guess insofar as risk is symptom of stupidity you have me there. 

As for other financial risks… when was the last time an ownership group put up their own money for an arena?  What happened here in Columbus?  How are the McConnell’s repaying the tax payers in Franklin County for the risk they were forced into absorbing?  What will happen in Detroit when the Wings leave JLA?  I’ll give you a hint, the money won’t all be coming out of the Illitchs’ pockets.  So give me break, the owners are doing fine job of mitigating their risks without ripping the players a new one.

Ah, but that’s the point.  If every current NHL player simply retired rather than play under a new CBA do you know what would happen?  The next 600 best players available would then become NHLers… and be thrilled to play under that CBA.  That’s why they always have the weaker bargaining position.

That relies on the assumption that second tier talent can sell tickets, merchandise, advertising, and tv deals as effectively as first tier talent.  Thats a big assumption my friend.  Fans and sponsors won’t pay the same price for AHL quality. 

As a point of note, the NHL can’t even find 30 dudes to own teams now.  They still own Phoenix, and NJ is surviving on the sufferance of banks.

Well when you take into account that the commissioner over-expanded the league into bad markets that comes as no surprise.  Don’t forget about the potential buyers that he has chased away over the years as well.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/14/12 at 11:52 AM ET

Primis's avatar

If there’s any games lost, it’s on the owners and nobody else.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/14/12 at 08:59 AM ET

larry from pitt made my point for me.  Fehr is in a stupid staring contest with the league, and he’s daring them to lock the players out so he can then blame the stoppage on the owners.

From the second the players signed on Fehr, there was never any possible outcome other than lost games.  Because that’s what he does and is why they brought him in.

You can blame the owners for the problems, but lost games will be on the PA.

Posted by Primis on 08/14/12 at 12:08 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

larry from pitt made my point for me.  Fehr is in a stupid staring contest with the league, and he’s daring them to lock the players out so he can then blame the stoppage on the owners.

From the second the players signed on Fehr, there was never any possible outcome other than lost games.  Because that’s what he does and is why they brought him in.

You can blame the owners for the problems, but lost games will be on the PA.

You mean the same stupid staring contest that Bettman got into last time?

This is a two-way street and Bettman basically destroyed all common-ground with his initial proposal. That offer was ridiculous and a complete slap in the face to the players.

I really don’t care at this point. I hope they lock out. I hope the NHL is destroyed and I hope I never have to waste one more minute of time or money on this stupid league.
I don’t even care if I don’t watch another game this season.
Between all the concussions, ridiculous lack of disciplinary justice, bounty of blocked shots and thousands of boring rebound/deflection/tip goals, I’m not sure why I would lose any sleep over not having NHL hockey next season.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/14/12 at 12:14 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

You can blame the owners for the problems, but lost games will be on the PA.

Posted by Primis on 08/14/12 at 10:08 AM ET

Yikes.

The owners wait until mid-July to throw a slap to the players’ faces. The players respond by asking for evidence to support why the owners should expect the players to give back anything and get 76,000 pages worth of financial documents. Apparently, the players should just have started from the position that they actually are supposed to give something back and not do any homework.

If you think we’d actually be any closer to a finalized CBA right now if the players had made a self-defeating counter-proposal 21 days ago, then I disagree.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/14/12 at 02:07 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

The owners wait until mid-July to throw a slap to the players’ faces. The players respond by asking for evidence to support why the owners should expect the players to give back anything and get 76,000 pages worth of financial documents. Apparently, the players should just have started from the position that they actually are supposed to give something back and not do any homework.

If you think we’d actually be any closer to a finalized CBA right now if the players had made a self-defeating counter-proposal 21 days ago, then I disagree.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/14/12 at 12:07 PM ET

Exactly. 

And needless to say, it’s quite a simplification of the process to cast matters entirely in terms of whether or not a counter-proposal has been officially presented.  There have been several three to four day working sessions between the sides and I’m sure there’s been other lower key communications as well.  It’s not as though the relevant party, ie. the owners / league are sitting blindly in a vacuum waiting to see what in the world the NHLPA has to say.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 08/14/12 at 03:05 PM ET

Avatar

Two years ago Bettman was asked about getting going on negotiations…

His response was “We have plenty of time.”

Posted by mrfluffy from Long Beach on 08/14/12 at 01:32 AM ET

Two years ago, the PA didn’t have an Executive Director with whom negotiation would have been possible. But make no mistake, the owners were ready to sit down much earlier than Fehr actually agreed to do so.

My take is Fehr gambled that by dragging his feet, he could frustrate the owners into extending the CBA an additional year for purposes of negotiation, at which point, he would have his guys strike in March. The problem is, this play of his has long been public record and the owners’ aren’t falling for it. And now the players and fans are both going to lose. Again. Like Walter White said on Breaking Bad this week: “As a business(man) you understand the concept of leverage…You. Have. None.”

It really sticks in my craw that Craig Leipold could be allowed to sign 2 guys to 100 million in guaranteed money and a few weeks later use some backdoor channel to get that reduced to $75. It’s the ultimate in bad-faith negotiations. But something like that happening is almost inevitable at this point. From where I’m sitting Fehr misplayed his hand badly, and the players are going to pay for it.

Posted by larry from pitt on 08/14/12 at 04:09 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Like Walter White said on Breaking Bad this week: “As a business(man) you understand the concept of leverage…You. Have. None.”

If the NHLPA had no leverage, the league would already be talking about how much fun we idiot fans are going to have watching replacement players come October.

You’re probably right that the fans have no leverage though, and man is that kind of a sad realization when you think about the entire purpose behind a professional league or what? THIS is the reason there’s going to be a lockout. Both players and owners are going to at least be partially hurt by a lockout (some owners more than others and some players more than others, to be sure), but the real sad part of a lockout is knowing that it’s going to be a hiccup where revenues that would have otherwise been there disappear, but there’s not really a long-term effect at play.

I thought a few months ago that the absence of an NHL “war chest” by the owners was perhaps a good sign in regards to whether there would be an extended work stoppage.  The more I think about it, the less confident I am because I think the real “war chest” for the owners now is the momentum the league has created the last few years.

It’s not that they can afford to stop playing hockey forever, it’s just that they can afford to not play hockey for a little while because it’s not really going to hurt the revenue stream as much as they thought the 04 lockout would.

tl;dr version:

NHL has leverage
NHLPA has leverage
Fans don’t have leverage

Hello work stoppage!

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/14/12 at 04:18 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Soooooo.. coming back to someo f these comments and some assumptions made on Fehr’s part.  What’s your take now?

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/14/12 at 09:42 PM ET

Avatar

Looks like Fehr made a real proposal that took some time to put together, but we live in the twitterverse where being first and fast is more important than being right.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 08/15/12 at 11:31 AM ET

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