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The NHL is ‘out of ideas’ in terms of collectively issuing ultimatums…I mean barganing

With the NHL most likely to cancel December's remaining games on Monday, let's just say that it's not a stunner that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly offered the following lament to the Associated Press:

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Friday that he is out of ideas on how to get negotiations back on track to save the hockey season.

Talks fell apart on Thursday night amid back-and-forth accusations, and the fallout was still being felt Friday. The two sides had no contact with each other on the 83rd day of the owners' lockout of players.

"I have no reason, nor any intention, of reaching out to the union right now," Daly said in an email to The Associated Press. "I have no new ideas. Maybe they do. We are happy to listen."

If the players do have a suggestion, they haven't offered it yet. Their most recent proposal was turned down quickly on Thursday by the NHL, which wanted a yes or no answer on three specific conditions the league said were non-negotiable. When the union tried to bargain the points, the meeting ended abruptly.

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The NHL is ‘out of ideas’ in terms of collectively issuing ultimatums…I mean barganing

Seriously, when do you realize it takes two to tango. Your constant barrage of anti-owner rhertoric is tiresome!

Posted by timbits on 12/07/12 at 11:11 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

It’s the truth. The NHL claims that it’s “negotiating,” but each and every time it’s issued a CBA proposal, it has told the NHLPA, the media and anyone within earshot that the proposal MUST be accepted in its ENTIRETY, and if it is not, all its promises and claims will be taken off the table (usually forever).

That’s how they roll.

And yes, I am a very biased NHLPA supporter. I find anti-player rhetoric to be tiresome, but that’s just me.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/07/12 at 11:20 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Actually it takes one to tango if the dance is a lockout.
Oh wait, I forgot that the players are on strike for a bigger piece of the pie.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 12/07/12 at 11:22 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

There is no strike. The players wanted to play. The players asked to play through negotiations. The owners locked everyone out.

The players struck in 1992, under Bob Goodenow, and under the reign of commissioner John Ziegler, for 10 days. They struck over trading card and photo revenues. They have not struck since. They have been locked out three times by Gary Bettman’s NHL, three times over the course of 18 years and twice over the course of the last 8 years and 7 seasons.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/07/12 at 11:29 PM ET

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And yes, I am a very biased NHLPA supporter. I find anti-player rhetoric to be tiresome, but that’s just me.

I think it is pretty clear there is plenty to blame on both sides, you have to blind to not recognize that. I do take the owner side, but only because it benefits my priority, which is helping underfunded markets grow the game of hockey. But since there are only 3 regular posters on this site who do support the owners, I figure some balance is warranted.

Posted by timbits on 12/07/12 at 11:32 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Hell yes, there is more than enough blame to go around, and both sides are about equally to blame. There aren’t enough shades of gray (no pun intended) to paint both of ‘em with.

I come from the perspective of a big-market fan who heard promises about “fixing” the game and “growing” it and has found that the Wings’ executives are still furious about subsidizing the Phoenix Coyotes or Nashville Predators’ payrolls, even though the ownership has both raised ticket prices across the board and enacted “variable” ticket pricing schemes to gouge the walk-up, single-ticket buyers, even in a market where our continually crappy economy can’t really support that kind of thing. I see broken promises and the same old, same old negotiating tactics and I take a different view.

It’s not that I don’t respect your opinions or viewpoints; I merely disagree with them.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/07/12 at 11:48 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

George, I’m with timbits. Can you try to be a little less of a homer when you blog? It’s hard to read. It’s just so biased.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 12/08/12 at 02:43 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

Sorry. I read the rest of the comments. I’m just a little out of it and completely despise how much of a homer you are. Instead of being a player lover, you should try seeing things from both perspectives.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 12/08/12 at 02:45 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Uh, no. I’ve been a “homer” from the start, and if you’re asking me to be “objective” and more “owner-friendly” regarding a league that’s locked out its players and fans three times, that’s just not gonna happen *because* I am a fan of an NHL team.

Paul did not hire an objective blogger. I remain consistent in my statements, and while I am only offering my opinion, I am not going to dial it down in this instance.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/08/12 at 02:47 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Re: Second comment: that’s fine by me. I completely understand and respect your stance. We can agree to vehemently disagree. No worries here.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/08/12 at 02:49 AM ET

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I find George’s stance—his clear point of view on these issues—to be just fine in this context; he’s not doing objective reportage, but analyzing the situation from his perspective.

At this point, I’m sure that if he changed and attempted to do completely unbiased reporting on the situation, he’d be labeled as disingenuous or still biased.

Posted by nosferatu from Albany, NY on 12/08/12 at 03:20 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, and everybody’s entitled to insult me if they wish. I signed up for this job understanding that I would have to respect those who don’t respect me.

That’s not a big deal at all. It is part of the job description and it is expected, and sometimes welcomed. Sometimes it means I’m doing my job.

My issue involves being asked to tone down my opinions because they are disagreed with, and in some cases perhaps not respected (which is fine in itself). I do not appreciate being told how to think.

Anyone is more than entitled to disagree with me, and I really don’t care if they dislike me or don’t respect my point of view. But there is an easy solution for the problem: one may scroll on to the next story if they see my byline and do not want to read it, and there are also other blogs out there which do a fine job of aggregating news.

Yes, I am a homer. Yes, I am biased. Sure, you can view all I say as bullshit. That’s fine because I happily stand in the pile of bullshit and claim it as my own.

Such statements will not yield retaliation in kind from this blogger because dealing with such comments is genuinely not a big concern. I actually had a conversation with someone today about the fact that so many reporters and bloggers get caught up in negative comments, talking endlessly about their readers’ insults and how stupid their readers are for insulting them. I never want to be like that. Readers can say what they want if they’re attacking me. I take umbrage when they’re attacking each other.

But I will not change my opinion for the simple sake of ease of reading. That is something I do take issue with, and I will state my opposition to ameliorating my point of view. That’s it.

Otherwise, insult away.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/08/12 at 03:31 AM ET

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he NHL claims that it’s “negotiating,” but each and every time it’s issued a CBA proposal, it has told the NHLPA, the media and anyone within earshot that the proposal MUST be accepted in its ENTIRETY, and if it is not, all its promises and claims will be taken off the table (usually forever).

The problem here George is that you’ve gotten so biased on this issue you say something like that, and I’m sure you believe it’s 100% true, when in fact it’s not.

The NHL has moved on cap, they’ve moved on make-whole, they’ve moved on CBA term, they’ve moved on a lot of stuff.  They haven’t moved on contract lengths or pay variance within the contract that I am aware.

If you watch the most recent Bettman presser the “the proposal MUST be accepted in its ENTIRETY” issue is explained to you.

When the NHL makes an offer, they do it realizing that all of the issues are intertwining, related parts.  Givebacks in one area normally suggest acquisitions in others.  So, when they present an offer to the NHLPA and the NHLPA says ‘well, we like 1, 2, and 3 but we don’t like x, y and z’ the NHL says ‘well, in order to get x, y, and z where you want them to be we’d have to change 1, 2 and 3 and you’d end up not liking them now.’

But I will not change my opinion for the simple sake of ease of reading.

Here’s a question: what would make you change your opinion?

I have a feeling that you can’t think of anything which would.

Bias, I don’t mind.  People walk into situations with pre-conceived notions and expectations all of the time.  They expect to like or not like a thing, or to support or not support a thing.

The issue that ‘concerns’ me here, insofar as any of what any of us says matters, isn’t your bias.  It’s that you appear to be incredibly closed-minded and unwilling to examine this issue outside your own bias.  That’s… not good.

It implies that any kind of substantive discussion with you is meaningless because you’re so locked into your bias that you’ll simply choose to ignore anything which doesn’t fall within those parameters of pre-conception.

It doesn’t really leave much else to say.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/08/12 at 06:32 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’ve considered those issues, wondered whether Fehr’s presser was a big fat scam, and I don’t know if the unwritten should be emphasized more here, so here it is:

Part of being openly biased means that I believe I have to work harder to take other perspectives, arguments, speculation and reasoned commentary very, very seriously, because bias should be challenged and must stand up to serious questioning, like any idea or theory.

And with all the posturing going on and all the propaganda being tossed off by the various reporters who are fed cookies to advance the agendas of one side or the other—media members who have increasingly found themselves “outed” in terms of bias with their hands in the cookie jar—absolutely nothing can be taken at face value.

I don’t stick my head up my ass and preach PA shit for the hell of it. I’m not Allan Walsh. I’m not on anybody’s take, I don’t have inside sources and it seems like lockout sentiment is about 60/40 toward the players, with both sides ready to passionately debate the issues and passionately support the side they believe best represents not only their interests, but the interests of the health of the game as a whole.

My biggest concern regarding this CBA is that the PA’s gone much further to address the NHL’s current 30-team business model and the franchises that are simply going to struggle unless they win 40+ games and make playoff pushes every season than the league has. I’m scared shitless of the can being kicked down the line, with true “fixing” of the issues which require revenue-sharing in the first place to truly be addressed through a fourth lockout. That fourth lockout will truly kill the sport.

I want the owners to make craptons of money. I want the players to earn their living. I neither begrudge the owners their billions nor the players their millions. I’m very happy to spend what little discretionary income I have on Red Wings merchandise and tickets. In an ideal world, every franchise would be in the black every year and league-wide revenues would continue to rise by hundreds of millions of dollars every year, with everybody earning a fat share thereof.

Regarding some of my biases:

The concept of “givebacks” concerns me because everybody burned an entire season to get that last CBA set to “fix” the game, and yet every “give” on the NHL’s part is lessening of what is going to be a “taking” of at least a billion dollars in revenue, especially if ticket prices continue to rise as the biggest markets rebound and continue in turn to drive league-wide revenues higher and higher.

Yes, once the owners leave the bargaining room, they’re gonna try to undermine the supposedly idiot-proofed system as they compete with each other, and yes, the players will earn their millions, but one side is reneging on what were supposed to be legally-binding contracts. One is already willing to give on what was legally promised to them. No matter what happens here, the owners are eventually going to earn what will probably be more than 50% of hockey-related revenues, given all that can be unreported, and over the course of however long the CBA lasts, whether that’s six or ten years, it’s going to be over an extra billion dollars in the owners’ pockets. They will get their bailout and then some.

I don’t really understand the concept of negotiating via ultimatums, where the CBA offers are, “We’ll give you A, but you have to totally cave on B, C, D, E and F, which we refuse to budge upon. If you try to start negotiating on these issues, we’re gonna pull the offer off the table and leave in a huff.”

The PA will “lose” here. It’s a matter of how much dignity they’ll feel they leave the process having retained, and when they’re told that they’ll get certain carrots, but have to cave on what’s unpalatable with no room for discussion, that’s hard to agree to.

And whatever happened on Wednesday and Thursday, every indication suggests that a deal was indeed incredibly close to being agreed upon, but when the PA decided that they needed to close the deal with Donald in the room as well as Steve, the owners got furious, Daly and Batterman were furious, and after rejecting the concept of having a federal mediator deal with the legalese for the players as they are neither labor lawyers nor business magnates, Donald eventually entered the room, and the rug was pulled out.

Was the Kabuki theatre from Fehr attempting to push a deal into being, and to curry public favor? Of course. None of these pressers are selfless truth-telling. But what followed from Bettman, visibly shaking with anger, and “We will die on this hill” Daly, was another level of nuts. The 45 minutes they gave the press allowed them to essentially bare their souls and state exactly where they stood—with players looking on—and the militancy and fervor of feverish anger with which they countered Fehr’s seeming blasphemy was telling.

Have both sides been unreasonable, stupid and immature at times? Yes. Are both sides to blame? Duh. Have the “goalposts” been moved by both sides? Yes.

But if the deal was so close, if *some* negotiation was palatable, why take everything off the table? And why do this after proposing a two-week break in negotiations and then tossing off the “small group” offer which was inevitably going to end with Bettman and Donald Fehr having to enter the room and sign off when that wasn’t going to be allowed to happen?

Has this truly descended into an ego war, an abstraction where “winning” the rhetorical battle and delivering the mortal legal blow has left the concept of playing hockey this season and making some actual money disappeared along the way?

I’ve got to go back to the track records here. Looking at which side has canceled games and seasons, which side is “giving,” which side chose to not conduct business through negotiations, which side hasn’t really negotiated, period, which side repeatedly first dismisses counter-proposals and then furiously storms out when the take-it-or-leave-its aren’t simply acquiesced to, and taking learned and both biased and unbiased observations into account, I try to call it as I see it.

Along the way, I find it particularly intriguing that when I inevitably interject commentary, the discussion completely veers off the information presented and turns completely toward questioning my comments and openly biased point of view. It’s as if absent vilifying the message, the message-sender should become the target of opportunity.

Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. I’m going to continue attempting to assess the news and to state what I feel and perceive, and yes, that’s incredibly likely to include some PA-favoring bias, but it will not be blindly led by said bias. Whether you interpret what I say as such is up to you.

And again, if you find my commentary unpalatable, there are other blogs and other entries on this blog which should provide more than enough fodder for discussion of topics other than my bias and your distaste for my opinions.

Your call. You don’t leave me with much else to say, either.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/08/12 at 07:10 AM ET

tkfergy's avatar

First, George I appreciate your views, compared to some of the others that have been dominating the comment section on most articles here lately.

Second, I think the major issue is the fact that the NHL was finally OPEN and HONEST in press conference, so that it now looks like the players are the ones who didn’t want the deal. You have to remember though that the NHLPA has been open and at least semi-honest during the whole negotiation process.

Now, I believe a lot of what both Don and Gary (Ass) said in their respective press conferences. 1 they were close to agreeing on a deal compared to the last time Don was in the room. 2 The NHL isn’t really trying to negotiate, by saying this is what we will give you (BTW I think they are below the amount that they are willing to go to still) but you have to concede the rest. I’m sorry meeting half way on one issue would not be worth having to move 75-85% in the owner’s favor for 4 issues.

What I think is fair, 5-6 years contract lengths for FAs/trades, 8 years for Drafted, and as for the variance issue 15-20% for contracts 5-8 years and 25-30% for the rest (not including bonuses).

I foresee the first game being around Jan 1-10, and a 50 game season. (Just long enough for the Wings to go on a winning streak at the end of the season and place in the top 4 and then losing the first series 4-1 to MIN

P.S. Welcome back George, even if it was only for a day or two…

Posted by tkfergy on 12/08/12 at 08:51 AM ET

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Part of being openly biased means that I believe I have to work harder to take other perspectives, arguments, speculation and reasoned commentary very, very seriously, because bias should be challenged and must stand up to serious questioning, like any idea or theory.

But you don’t.  You dismiss them.

Here’s what happens when people are slaves to a bias.  They formed the bias based on some minimal level of information and then the bias calcifies.  Then, even when a fairly equivalent amount of information contradictory to what formed the bias arrives, it sloughs off the stalactite of pre-conception.

I don’t really understand the concept of negotiating via ultimatums, where the CBA offers are, “We’ll give you A, but you have to totally cave on B, C, D, E and F, which we refuse to budge upon. If you try to start negotiating on these issues, we’re gonna pull the offer off the table and leave in a huff.”

I know.  And that’s why you’re struggling with this issue.  What happens is when people don’t understand a thing they try to explain it in terms that they actually do understand.  That’s what makes bias so dangerous when a biased principle is the foundation for a series of beliefs.

What’s happening here is what happens in pretty much every really important negotiation.  When you buy a house, that’s what you do.  You set a price you’re willing to take, you set the terms you’re willing to meet, and that’s as far as you’ll go.  That doesn’t make it an ego thing, it makes it a business thing.  If you’re buying a house a seller won;t sell for less than 250k and you don’t want to pay more than 225k… well, that’s that.

The difference here is that the NHL and NHLPA eventually have to make a deal.  There aren’t any other houses to buy.  So the buyer that’s stuck on 225 and the seller that’s stuck on 250 just stare at each other and trade other issues back and forth about if the lawnmower gets included or the grandfather clock in the dining room.

But if the deal was so close, if *some* negotiation was palatable, why take everything off the table?

Again, watch the pressers.  The deals on the table are made in the moment.  They are made based on the current situation.  They are made contingent on both the details in the offers and the facts on the ground.

Just because an offer is pulled doesn’t mean the offer is disintegrated.  Pulling is a negotiating ploy just like having a press conference is.

Looking at which side has canceled games and seasons, which side is “giving,” which side chose to not conduct business through negotiations, which side hasn’t really negotiated, period, which side repeatedly first dismisses counter-proposals and then furiously storms out when the take-it-or-leave-its aren’t simply acquiesced to, and taking learned and both biased and unbiased observations into account, I try to call it as I see it.

And again, that’s the danger of bias.  You’re looking at things that happen through a fugue of pro-player disinformation, so events as they transpire are pre-filtered.

Both sides have made offers.
Both sides have refused the offers of the other side.

That’s the plain reality of the situation, unvarnished and true.

Since you think the old offer was the starting point for this negotiation, you think the owners are being unfair and the players are doing all the sacrificing.  You don’t feel that way about individual player contracts so I know you don;t hold that position generally.  Just in this situation where you are chained to a bias.

So you can blame the lockout on the owners and blame the lost seasons on the owners if you’d like.  Obviously, you have.  The untainted reality, though, is that it takes two sides to make an agreement and the NHLPA has been as wooden-headed as anyone in comprehending fiscal realities of the league.

Along the way, I find it particularly intriguing that when I inevitably interject commentary, the discussion completely veers off the information presented and turns completely toward questioning my comments and openly biased point of view.

Why is that a surprise, though?  If you interject biased commentary there’s no reason to deal with whatever ‘substance’ exists in the commentary because its, you know, biased.  If someone likes Coke and someone likes Pepsi, why should anyone listen to someone who likes Pepsi wax eloquent of the shortcomings of Coke?  Why should such an obviously biased position be taken with any level of seriousness?

Of course Coke sucks to the pro-Pepsi guy.  Everything they see or read will be interpreted to support that pre-made conclusion.

And again, if you find my commentary unpalatable,

I don’t find it unpalatable… I just wonder what you think you’re doing.  Your kind of biased pontificating isn’t really going to convince anyone and your closed-mindedness isn’t going to free you from your cage of preconception.

I guess there’s a certain amount of catharsis involved in ranting, but nowadays it seems like people just form up on a side and scream into the wind.

Doesn’t strike me as terribly… fun.  Or enjoyable.  Or effective.

But like you said, ‘whatever floats your boat, I suppose.’

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/08/12 at 09:25 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The NHL has moved on cap, they’ve moved on make-whole, they’ve moved on CBA term, they’ve moved on a lot of stuff.  They haven’t moved on contract lengths or pay variance within the contract that I am aware.

Each of those movements came in the next act after talks breaking down.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/08/12 at 09:44 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I think what’s consistently hilarious about the discussion of bias is that it’s apparently supposed to insulate the person discussing the issues of bias from the idea that their own bias mirrors that of the one they’re speaking down to.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/08/12 at 12:01 PM ET

tkfergy's avatar

Since you think the old offer was the starting point for this negotiation, you think the owners are being unfair and the players are doing all the sacrificing.  You don’t feel that way about individual player contracts so I know you don;t hold that position generally.  Just in this situation where you are chained to a bias.

So you can blame the lockout on the owners and blame the lost seasons on the owners if you’d like.  Obviously, you have.  The untainted reality, though, is that it takes two sides to make an agreement and the NHLPA has been as wooden-headed as anyone in comprehending fiscal realities of the league.

Well if you look at the old CBA and what the Owners want out of the NEW CBA the players are the ONLY ones sacrificing… Unless you can name something that is has been mentioned that is an improvement from the last CBA.

With that in mind then the owners are to blame, because really who in their right mind would blame the person making ALL the concessions… Oh wait you are defiantly pro-owner so I guess you would be that person.

 

Posted by tkfergy on 12/08/12 at 12:19 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Keep doing what you’re doing, George. Not every issue has two valid sides.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/08/12 at 01:12 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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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