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Report- NHL Thinking Replacement Players

 

Read more tweets from Bill Watters at Josh Rimmer's twitter account or listen/watch (I had to scroll to the 11 minute mark to bypass the commercials) the two talk.

Filed in: NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink
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I m down for replacement players, I would pay to watch them play. This is actually great news and I think a lot of players would actually come in and play with the replacements.

Posted by HatTrick on 10/02/12 at 12:37 AM ET

Luongo-is-my-hero's avatar

i would not pay to watch replacement players.  Honestly im thoroughly peeved at this whole situation as a whole. 

Honestly, I would not mind one bit if the lockout lasted for 2-3 years, and as a result, bettman, the owners and the players lose out so badly, that bettman gets fired, the players and the owners realize they have to think about the fans too and be forced to lower ticket prices.  Im so dissillusioned over the NHL right now. 
It will take a lot to get me back to being the fan I once was.

Posted by Luongo-is-my-hero on 10/02/12 at 02:20 AM ET

Chet's avatar

not only would i not watch scab players, i’d never watch NHL hockey again.

this would be financial suicide for the NHL.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 10/02/12 at 02:38 AM ET

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First off: It should surprise no-one the NHL is doing this.

Secondly, let’s be real here for a minute:  Pretty much 60% of the NHL is within shouting distance to replacement level anyway.  Once you get past the top 50 or so skaters, the actually irreplaceable ones, there isn’t a whole bunch to separate a third line guy in the NHL from a top 6 guy in the AHL.

There is a difference, just not one that when you throw the other guys out there will be demonstrably noticeable.  The Datsyuk’s, Crosby’s, Malkin’s, Stamkos’s… those guys play hockey at a level so high that it’s impossible not to see how brilliant they are.

Filppula?  Neal?  Moulson?  Pominville?  They’re good.  They are obviously much better than anything the AHL could ever muster.  But they don’t play the game any differently.  Put those guys out there against guys as good as they are and the hockey looks like hockey.

Finally, I’d just like to add another virtual eyeroll to the ‘I’ll never watch again’ crowd.  You’ll be back.  Some of you won’t, at least not right away, but that number is meaningless to the powers that be in the NHL.  THe people who actually like watching hockey will eventually be back to watch it.  They’ll only be hurting themselves, and that kind of behavior never lasts for too terribly long, by and large.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/02/12 at 03:26 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

Except… there isn’t a picket line because the players aren’t striking…?

Kind of legally problematic I would think to bring in replacement players when the owners have locked them out instead of a situation where they refuse to work, I would think.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 10/02/12 at 03:56 AM ET

Chet's avatar

i grew up in a union family.

i watch the NHL for those 50 irreplaceable players.

those 50 are still in the union. so, there’s that.

bigger picture:

it’d be financial suicide for the NHL to use scabs. it’d just make it an even bigger punchline among no. american sports. a disgrace.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 10/02/12 at 04:01 AM ET

creasemonkey's avatar

Except… there isn’t a picket line because the players aren’t striking…?

Kind of legally problematic I would think to bring in replacement players when the owners have locked them out instead of a situation where they refuse to work, I would think.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 10/02/12 at 04:56 AM ET

Quoted for truth. If the NHL did this anytime soon, I’d imagine they would be facing numerous court costs over this.

Posted by creasemonkey from sweet home san diego on 10/02/12 at 04:45 AM ET

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Well legally I think they would be able to, see the NFL And the refs. That was a lockout and they immediatly brought in replacement. Though it being a lockout does make it more complex than the 87 NFL

If they did bring in replacements of course no one would watch, that wouldn’t be the point. Point would be to lut pressure on the vers on their last paycheck and guys nearing number of games played for post career benefits. What broke the NFL union in the 80s was guys crossing the line because the games counted and if they didn’t they would not qualify for their pension.

Posted by jkrdevil on 10/02/12 at 05:50 AM ET

Savage Henry's avatar

If I’m going to watch minor league hockey talent, I expect minor league ticket prices.  I can drive ten minutes from my house and see ECHL hockey, where I pay $30 to sit on the glass.  Why would I pay 10x the price for only slightly better product?

Posted by Savage Henry on 10/02/12 at 06:09 AM ET

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Why does “Bill Watters thinks that” equals “the NHL is thinking”?

If the NHL didn’t do it the past two time why would they do it this time, and only a month into the regular season?  Because it worked so well for the NHL with their replacement refs?

I would bet that if the NHL were ever considering it, they aren’t anymore because of the NFL debacle…  At least not in the short term.

Oh, and remember, Bill Watters is a complete idiot.

Posted by Garth on 10/02/12 at 06:27 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The NFL was allowed to bring in replacement refs in relatively short order because the refs aren’t the product.

I feel the NHL would meet the same kind of judicial acceptance of a cheap bargaining ploy like this that the NFLPA met when they tried to decertify in order to sue their league.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/02/12 at 06:57 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Just curious, where do they think the scab players are going to come from?

This isn’t football, where the NFL is the only game in town basically.  Or basketball, which is much the same.  In those sports, being a scab might truly be the only way to make a mark and get your foot in the door eventually (it happened for some NFL players that played as scabs…. they then played for real later).  This is more akin to MLB, with tiers and tiers of affiliated minor leagues.

Do they think AHLers and ECHLers will sign on to play maybe just a handful of games?  Many ECHLers sign with a club based on criteria we can’t even come up with right now, are they going to uproot themselves for a week or two, and then possibly not come back to their old team when it inevitably is done, because that spot might not be waiting for them?  Especially considering the deep NHL roots some minor orgs have… if you cross that line as a scab player, some minor orgs might refuse to take you back, not to mention you’re blackballed form ever being in the PA if you ever do make the NHL again someday.

And they still can’t sign guys from overseas right, because there’s still IIHF considerations, no?  So it’s not like they can just poach from Switzerland, the DEL, and Britain or something.  AFAIK the NHL is still the NHL and would be held to its normal signing restrictions.

Do they think AHL, ECHL, and CHL (and maybe even SPHL) clubs are going not say a word if the NHL poaches their players for scabs for a couple weeks while they’re trying to win games and make the playoffs themselves?  As affiliates they have little choice or say, and they choose that.  However, you better believe destroying minor rosters for scabs might get a legal challenge even because those leagues have to protect themselves and their games & bottom lines.  Imagine the NHL not only p*ssing off its own fans, but then destroying minor league teams and p*ssing off those minor fanbases as well?  Not a good way to build your sports brand, not at all.

It’s a red herring.  I don’t possibly see any way they could use scab players, unless they want to bring guys literally out of retirement or something.  I don’t know what other sources or pools there would be without huge, huge problems…  no doubt some older PA players would cross because they want that last season or those last paychecks.  I do think it would or could break the PA pretty easily actually.  Where are the other 90-some % of players going to come from though?

Posted by Primis on 10/02/12 at 07:11 AM ET

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The NFL was allowed to bring in replacement refs in relatively short order because the refs aren’t the product.

The point appears to be that if a league can lock out refs and replace them, a league can lock out x and replace it.  I don’t think that’s the real issue, though.

Strictly speaking, in this case the term lockout appears to be a meaningless description.  Without an agreed-upon CBA there are no parameters upon which a league can operate. 

That, I would assume, is the heart of the matter.  In order for there to actually be a lockout the NHL would have to intentionally prevent the NHLPA from fulfilling a current and binding labor agreement.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/02/12 at 07:14 AM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

There is no way I’m interested in watching scabs. Heck, I’ve already lost interest in the NHL. I’m done.


Thanks Gary. A$$!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 10/02/12 at 07:27 AM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Replacement players???.......Hmmmm??

Sounds like a winner Gary!

Almost as good as when you put teams in Florida & Arizona.

Although, not quite as good as when you chose OLN over ESPN.

Posted by Down River Dan on 10/02/12 at 07:32 AM ET

pensfan29's avatar

Where can i apply?

Posted by pensfan29 on 10/02/12 at 07:56 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

I do think that there is a big difference in the level of pay, even apart from the 50 or so premier players in the league. I think there is a noticeable difference between your typical AHL game and even the Islanders, and it isn’t just John Tavares. The differences are certainly marginal the higher you get, but those margins is what we pay NHL prices to see.

I CERTAINLY won’t pay NHL prices to see AHL-level (or lower) talent. And even if they dramatically drop the ticket prices, I’m not interested. I will stop short of saying this will keep me from coming back to the game, because I agree that is a lot of hyperbole. But I’ll just take the hockey sabbatical and channel it into something productive for a change…

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 10/02/12 at 08:00 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

The NHL isn’t getting a dime from me this year so that pretty much answers the question for me.
MLB, NFL, AHL, CCHA and eventually 6 Nations will be getting my attention this fall/winter. You are dead to me, NHL.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 10/02/12 at 08:07 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Strictly speaking, in this case the term lockout appears to be a meaningless description.  Without an agreed-upon CBA there are no parameters upon which a league can operate.

Not really. Eric Macramella covered it pretty well on his blog.

Since, in this case, the owners are the ones preventing them from moving forward under the rules of an agreed-upon CBA, it’s an appropriate description when it comes to describing which side is actually preventing training camps from going on right now.

Stepping further into the case of strictly speaking, they don’t even have to play under the old CBA. They actually CAN play without a CBA entirely; they’d just be essentially inviting a players’ strike and potential lawsuits over everything from benefits to travel to scheduling. Many of those lawsuits would use the previous CBA as agreed-upon precedent, but they wouldn’t necessarily be held to those rules.

So ‘strictly’ speaking, they don’t need a CBA to play. Practically speaking they do.

As it comes to the matter of using replacement players, the strictly speaking part carries the most legal weight. The lockout has a very real legal definition and that would most-definitely come into play if the NHL decided to start filling their rosters with non-NHLPA players in November.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/02/12 at 08:09 AM ET

henrymalredo's avatar

I have to imagine this is just a threat, because I can’t imagine this actually working.  Honestly, if the NHL did do this, I could see this blowing up in their faces and forcing them back to the bargaining table.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 10/02/12 at 08:25 AM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

If the NHL brings in scabs, it would be the same as signing their own suicide note.  If they do that, then those big dollar KHL contracts are going to look awfully appealing and the NHL can say “goodbye forever” to a lot of stars, especially the Euros and Russians.  Once that happens, I guarantee a lot of the fans saying they will never return, will do just that…never return.

And for those of you who seem to think you have it all figured out and want to look down your noses at people who say they aren’t coming back, or won’t be back for a couple years: stuff a cork in it.  Just because YOU could never walk away from the league doesn’t mean others can’t and won’t.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 10/02/12 at 09:26 AM ET

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Glad to read and see others standing up in principle for what is an absolutely untenable situation for the third time under commandant bettman. I will never step foot in MSG or any other nhl arena as long as he has anything to do with this sport, which gets marginalized by the day as long as his involvement continues. This “idea” being floated about replacements is about as clueless as the rest of his regime. I read an article about a new bio of this asshat that actually claims he has somewhat of a grasp on understanding hockey and its fan base. This proves how ignorant he is about the fan base. But, if this did happen I would hope that the NHLPA and Don Fehr would summon all the players back from overseas (something I find almost as distasteful as the lockout itself, NHL players taking jobs away from others who have short careers to begin with) and get them out in front of every arena and make sure the sheep that bettman think are coming back no matter what actually don’t.

I think as this wears on, on my personal list of despicable public figures, bettman has moved ahead of mitt, as mitt is slowly fading into oblivion.  @OccupyTheNHL

Posted by ryanloral on 10/02/12 at 09:40 AM ET

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i would watch the replacements for sure.  When i first started watching hockey, other than a few common names you would hear in the paper… the majority of the players I watched and grew to appreciate were the muckers and grinders.  I just want to watch hockey darn-it!

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 10/02/12 at 09:50 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

I just want to watch hockey darn-it!

AHL, ECHL, QMJHL, WHL, KHL, Euro Leagues… DO you want to watch hockey or the NHL?

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 10/02/12 at 09:54 AM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

Almost as good as when you put teams in Florida & Arizona.

Although, not quite as good as when you chose OLN over ESPN.

Posted by Down River Dan on 10/02/12 at 08:32 AM ET

You forgot Atlanta. Twice.

Thanks Gary. A$$!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 10/02/12 at 09:55 AM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

the majority of the players I watched and grew to appreciate were the muckers and grinders.

NHL caliber muckers and grinders. You wouldn’t find the Grind Line(muckers and grinders) in the lower leagues. The big time is for big time players. Not just the “face of a franchise” players.

The guys in the big league have made it there for a reason. They are better, stronger, tougher, and faster than their lower level counterparts.

Thanks Gary. A$$!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 10/02/12 at 10:02 AM ET

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AHL, ECHL, QMJHL, WHL, KHL, Euro Leagues… DO you want to watch hockey or the NHL?

Truth is i get to actually go to a real hockey game about twice a year… most of the hockey i watch is on tv via center-ice.  I do not have the option to follow the other leagues you mentioned above.  Sure, i may be able to catch the KHL game-of-the-week on ESPN 3 but that is not the same as literally watching all 82 regular season games and an additional 30+ other games from other teams i enjoy watching.  If the NHL had replacment players and they had it on center-ice, i would watch them for sure.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 10/02/12 at 10:03 AM ET

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Since, in this case, the owners are the ones preventing them from moving forward under the rules of an agreed-upon CBA, it’s an appropriate description when it comes to describing which side is actually preventing training camps from going on right now.

Again, not really.  Sure, the players would be fine continuing the previous CBA.  The players would also be fine if the NHL simply agreed to a new 7 year term under the old deal as well.

The players would also be willing to start playing if they got 65% of HRR instead of 57%, too.

That the players would be willing to play under the terms of an expired CBA while the NHL is not is not a lockout, just like the players refusing to sign the NHL’s first offer in order to start the season on time constitutes a strike.

There is no CBA, currently.  Without one, there isn’t really a lockout.

Here’s an example.  You sign a contract for a year to have someone mow your lawn.  After that year you decide you don’t want to pay that guy as much and ask him to take a paycut.  He shows up on schedule and insists he wants to continue mowing your lawn at the old rate that you don’t want to pay any more.

When you tell the guy to get lost, are you locking him out? smile

As a quick aside, to all the people who say that they’ve lost interest in the NHL and have no intention of coming back, a question:  Why do you still read/post here, then?  This is, primarily at least, an NHL blog.  If the lockout has sapped your desire for all things NHL, this blog should be beyond boring, right?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/02/12 at 04:36 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Here’s an example.  You sign a contract for a year to have someone mow your lawn.  After that year you decide you don’t want to pay that guy as much and ask him to take a paycut.  He shows up on schedule and insists he wants to continue mowing your lawn at the old rate that you don’t want to pay any more.

When you tell the guy to get lost, are you locking him out? smile

Well, no; in your example I’m not locking him out because my one-year contract with him has expired. He has no expectation to be paid for mowing my lawn because he has no contract to do so.

I’m also not locking him out because there’s no such thing as collective bargaining between two people.

If I had a two-year contract with him and told him that I had no intention of honoring year two of our agreement unless he renegotiated the contract, I wouldn’t be locking him out as much as I’d be simply breaching our contract.

The only way to salvage a broken metaphor here is to say I signed the guy to a two-year deal and in the spring of the second year, I set all my grass on fire and told him that our contract is moot because there’s no grass to mow.

Again, not really.  Sure, the players would be fine continuing the previous CBA.  The players would also be fine if the NHL simply agreed to a new 7 year term under the old deal as well.

The players would also be willing to start playing if they got 65% of HRR instead of 57%, too.

Sure, and the vast majority already have the contracts under which they’d start doing those things.

That the players would be willing to play under the terms of an expired CBA while the NHL is not is not a lockout, just like the players refusing to sign the NHL’s first offer in order to start the season on time constitutes a strike.

Willingness is not an applicable consideration here. The thing that makes this situation an actual lockout is the fact that “lockout” is a defined term and that this situation fits that definition. Each NHL player who has a contract is currently locked out. If he weren’t locked out, he would be expected to be honoring his contract.  If the NHL ends the lockout without a CBA (which they are completely within their legal bounds to do so), then there is likely to be a players’ strike at a later date.  If that happens, then the “strictly speaking” definition of what is preventing hockey would be a “strike.”

The idea that there absolutely has to be a collective bargaining in place for NHL players to play this season in a manner that is ‘strictly speaking’ is false.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/02/12 at 04:56 PM ET

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Well, no; in your example I’m not locking him out because my one-year contract with him has expired.

As has the CBA.  One side being willing to continue under the old terms while the other is not does not create a situation where a strike or a lockout is an accurate term.

I’m also not locking him out because there’s no such thing as collective bargaining between two people.

What, exactly, do you think collectively bargaining means, anyway?  It allows a group of people to bargain as a single unit.  The owners also ‘collectively bargain’ by having one person head their position rather than 30 teams striking 30 individual deals with the NHLPA.

The parties sign as single units.  This is very often included in the actual definitions that prepend most CBAs.

If I had a two-year contract with him and told him that I had no intention of honoring year two of our agreement unless he renegotiated the contract, I wouldn’t be locking him out as much as I’d be simply breaching our contract.

But you’d also be locking him out, yes?

Sure, and the vast majority already have the contracts under which they’d start doing those things.

Look, I’ll keep repeating this in the hope that, someday, it’ll sink in.

CBA > SPC.

It doesn’t matter what an SPC says.  If the CBA invalidates it, it’s invalidated.  Salary amounts, salary terms, cap hits, NTC/NMC’s, anything.  None of it matters if the CBA changes it.

The idea that there absolutely has to be a collective bargaining in place for NHL players to play this season in a manner that is ‘strictly speaking’ is false.

Ah, another JJ Special.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/02/12 at 07:12 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Look, I’ll keep repeating this in the hope that, someday, it’ll sink in.

CBA > SPC.

I know what you mean by this. You’re just wrong.

I’ll keep repeating this because it’s correct and you don’t want to accept it:

You do not have to have a CBA in order to have NHL contracts nor do you need it to have NHL games played.

As has the CBA.  One side being willing to continue under the old terms while the other is not does not create a situation where a strike or a lockout is an accurate term.

There goes that “willingness” word again. What you need to create a situation where a strike or lockout is an accurate term is a labor impasse between collectively bargaining organizations. There’s a labor impasse right now by which the owners are refusing to honor their players’ contracts. Therefore, strictly speaking, you have a lockout. If you don’t like that the word “lockout” exists or that it’s used to describe exactly this situation, take it up with Noah Webster.

What, exactly, do you think collectively bargaining means, anyway?  It allows a group of people to bargain as a single unit.

Take away the word group and what do you have?  You have bargaining. You don’t have collective bargaining. You actually need a collective to do that.  Two people on opposite sides of a bargaining does not make a collective.

But you’d also be locking him out, yes?

No, because “lockout” is a collective labor term. When one person doesn’t honor a contract, he hasn’t locked out the other side, nor has he gone on strike. In that situation, he’s simply broken his contract.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/02/12 at 07:49 PM ET

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It doesn’t matter what an SPC says.

Yes it does.  It is an agreed-upon contract.  The players are being locked out.

If the owners were willing to continue under the current CBA and the players weren’t, it would be a strike.  As it stands now, there is a lockout.

lock·out/ˈläkˌout/ Noun: The exclusion of employees by their employer from their place of work until certain terms are agreed to.

Under this definition how is the NHL’s situation anything but a lockout?

Posted by Garth on 10/02/12 at 08:17 PM ET

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