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This Could Get Messy

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

The NHL has given the NHLPA an ultimatum regarding the contested front-loaded contract of not only the Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk, but Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Chicago’s Marian Hossa, as well, The Post has learned.

A well placed source reports that the league has informed the Players’ Assn. that the league will grandfather the recently submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100M contract, Luongo’s 12-year, $64M deal that is entering its second season and Hossa’s 12-year, $63.3M deal that also is entering its second season into the CBA under the following conditions:

1. That the cap hit on future multi-year contracts will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age. The cap hit would be calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Primis's avatar

The NHL is playing very, very hard ball on this.  If this is true, they’re attempting to make sure the PA doesn’t get any wild ideas that they can somehow 100% win they fight.  They’re going to lose somewhere.

I’ll be very curious to find out the PA response.

I also, as a Red Wings fan, have to admit I could care less about any of the outcomes.  Though I do think the NHL getting p*ssed and voiding Kovalchuk and Luongo’s contracts would be kinda’ funny.

Posted by Primis on 09/02/10 at 12:35 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Changing the rules as we go along. Thanks Gary. Ass. If the PA doesn’t tell them to go scratch on this…the next CBA will be more of a joke than the current one.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 09/02/10 at 12:50 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I think giving concessions that should be made now instead of waiting until the summer of 2012 should help the league and the PA when it comes to the next round of CBA negotiations.

Sure, there’s the “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” argument, but I think Fehr and the Players are in better shape for a lockout than the league.  Most fans consider the PA the good guys still, so I think the NHL will have a tough time getting ridiculous concessions.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/02/10 at 01:32 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

Sure, there’s the “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” argument, but I think Fehr and the Players are in better shape for a lockout than the league.  Most fans consider the PA the good guys still, so I think the NHL will have a tough time getting ridiculous concessions.

I don’t think the NHL will have any qualms about pushing for everything they want, including a lockout. This would forestall nothing - it will just save the NHL time because that is one item on their to-do list that they can check off early. Their idea of “negotiating” seems to be “you give us whatever we want and we deign to give you an opportunity to play.” I also don’t like the idea they are forcing changes to a collective bargaining agreement without actually collective bargaining.

Besides, they have two years left to paint the players as the bad guys again. It worked once - people are discouragingly predictable, and it will work again. The “high-priced entertainers who want money to play a game that most fans would do for free!” will be seen as the greedy reason for ticket prices going up and the poor owners not begin able to make any money so they have to squeeze the cities and citizens and local governments and their fans, because otherwise they will have no money at all.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 09/02/10 at 02:28 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I also don’t like the idea they are forcing changes to a collective bargaining agreement without actually collective bargaining.

They are collectively bargaining.  The NHLPA has to agree to these rule changes.  They know what’s at stake.  Despite Bloch’s ruling, the league will have a slightly tougher time in de-registering the Luongo contract, will hurt themselves by forcing Kovalchuk to the KHL and is not nearly stupid enough to cancel the Hossa contract after Chicago won the cup.

I personally don’t think the NHLPA should even pick this fight because the concessions the league are asking for are actually good for the product.  Forget the “spirit of the CBA” crap when it comes to league parity because that’s a lie, but the cap is good for the game.

I don’t see a lockout as inevitable and I don’t see hockey fans as sheep that are willing to swallow the spin that the players are responsible for any money problems.  I think the NHLPA will be in a strong position come 2012 and CBA time and I don’t see that giving reasonable concessions is a problem, even if they are being demanded in an unreasonable manner.

The league can threaten a lockout all they want, but actually going through with it would monstrously destabilize them and both them and the players know that.  Everybody is aware that there is dissension in the ranks among the Board of Governors and a lockout may very well finally turn that rift into a chasm.  no court of public opinion will still believe it’s the players’ fault when the owners start infighting.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/02/10 at 02:47 AM ET

Avatar

Go to a lock out! Stay locked out until Gary is out. That would be my slogan. This guy is such a tool.

Posted by callmedrw on 09/02/10 at 08:28 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Collective bargaining is supposed to be done collectively, right? I don’t see how this is even legal. Paul, KK needs a legal expert! smile

How old was Chris Chelios again? These terms are just asinine and have no basis in reality. In fact, all they serve to do is punish quality veteran players.

JJ, I hope you’re right, but I disagree. Look at how many people that comment here and on other blogs still take the side of the NHL and blame the players. In general, I think there’s a love/hate relationship between the American public and its sports icons. On one hand, we love them for entertaining us, but on the other hand, we villainize them for making the money they make to “play a game.”

People fail to realize that it’s a supply and demand issue. Nobody is saying athletes are more important than doctors or school teachers. What the market says is that there is a far smaller supply of top level athletes, and that those athletes generate far more raw revenue than just about any other profession.

The general sentiment I read around blogs like this is that even though the players got bent over during the last negotiations, it’s still essentially their fault, their violating “unwritten” rules, they should be punished more, and they should concede even more to the owners in the next round of negotiations…

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/02/10 at 10:20 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Collective bargaining is supposed to be done collectively, right?

This absolutely is collective bargaining, it’s just being done in a crappy manner with stupid threats.  The NHL and the PA have to both agree to allow these new rules.  The threat of retaliation if the NHLPA doesn’t abide doesn’t mean that any agreement that comes from this situation wasn’t collectively bargained.

The PA doesn’t even have to come to the table here.  I don’t understand why the league should allow 2 more years of contract talks that let teams and players take advantage of an untenable loophole.  I still think the threat is a mistake though.  I think that the league is worried that the players wouldn’t bother even coming to the table if they didn’t threaten those contracts (and with it, the stability of the NHLPA as it stands).  I would have recommended that they ask the NHLPA to help them collectively bargain the line in the sand they’re trying to draw and then let it get ugly with the media when the players refuse.

As for which side the fans support… I know a few very vocal commenters here who support the league over the players, but my overall thought is the opposite.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/02/10 at 10:43 AM ET

Avatar

So the NHL makes demands and the NHLPA is supposed to say okay. That is bargaining? I thought the CBA was a contract and that under the current CBA contracts cannot be re-negotiated. Nice double standard. The NHL gives back to the players contracts they already registered? Wow, some incentive. I would ask that the head of the NHL be given term limits of no more than 6 years and that the salary of the commisioner be no greater than the averag NHL player salary. Then we would see a true partnership where the commissioner has an incentive to raise revenues and he doesn’t have a long term contract that noone believes he is capabale of completing competently.

The idea that the contract length is just a loophole is outrageous, the NHL wanted it and the players negotiated against it.  There were obviously a couple of smart people on the NHLPA side that recognized this would be used in the way that it is. I’m amazed out how many people think that the NHL should have everything on its own terms. Why not no gauranteed contacts, get rid of no movement clauses, cap salaries to league minimum, no Free agency and then when ticket prices remain what they are and increase each year the fans will wonder what the players can give back next.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/02/10 at 11:01 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

So the NHL makes demands and the NHLPA is supposed to say okay. That is bargaining?

Yes, it is bargaining.  Every bit of bargaining comes with a threat.  Usually it’s a strike or a lockout, here it’s the players’ contracts.

I’m amazed out how many people think that the NHL should have everything on its own terms. Why not no gauranteed contacts, get rid of no movement clauses, cap salaries to league minimum, no Free agency and then when ticket prices remain what they are and increase each year the fans will wonder what the players can give back next.

The long, CBA-loopholing contracts are actively detrimental to both the league and the players.  I don’t see why allowing teams to spend more than the players’ share on revenues and then taking it back from all players and calling that revenue sharing is a good system.  We’re not talking about doing away with guaranteed contracts (yet), we’re talking about implementing a control that should be there in the first place, correcting a mistake.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/02/10 at 11:10 AM ET

Avatar

The CBA is not open for negotiation at this time so I don’t see what the NHL is doing as bargaining, but making threats without merit. I still contend that the length of contract is not a mistake or a loophole. Itwas a bargained for concession.  Whether it is beneficial to the players or the owners is subject to your perspective, but cannot be undone without looking at all of the other concessions made such as 24% roll back of salaries.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/02/10 at 11:26 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The CBA does allow itself to be amended at the agreement of the league and the NHLPA.  They’re breaking no rules with this tactic other than rules of etiquette.

Seriously, I don’t want it to get lost in all of my arguments that I agree that the league is being dickish here.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/02/10 at 12:01 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

This absolutely is collective bargaining, it’s just being done in a crappy manner with stupid threats.  The NHL and the PA have to both agree to allow these new rules.

It’s a technicality. You can call it “collective” because it requires agreement on both sides. But the PA is stuck. Either they alienate three stars inside their membership and tell the NHL to piss off, or they alienate the vast majority of their membership by protecting three guys in exchange for added rules that could potentially damage the lot of every other member of the PA in the future.

Doesn’t seem very collective to me. An ultimatum and a threat is never collective.

As for which side the fans support… I know a few very vocal commenters here who support the league over the players, but my overall thought is the opposite.

Alright, I guess we just wear different glasses. It just seemed to me that the players were painted as the bad guys by most fans in the last lockout… even though the word lockout (NOT strike) says it all.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/02/10 at 12:16 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

The long, CBA-loopholing contracts are actively detrimental to both the league and the players.  I don’t see why allowing teams to spend more than the players’ share on revenues and then taking it back from all players and calling that revenue sharing is a good system.  We’re not talking about doing away with guaranteed contracts (yet), we’re talking about implementing a control that should be there in the first place, correcting a mistake.

It’s arguable if it is a detriment to the league. It’s a detriment to a league trying to base itself on failing markets with little interest in the sport. It’s not a detriment to the league if it would base itself around strong Canadian and northeastern markets.

This isn’t a good system. I guess the argument from me (from a league perspective) isn’t that the “loophole” needs to be closed, it’s that the CBA as a whole needs to be rewritten. The real problem these contracts expose is that the CBA punishes good teams and good organizations, and indirectly punishes quality veteran players since there’s a fixed amount of dollars to go to players.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/02/10 at 12:21 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

It’s not a detriment to the league if it would base itself around strong Canadian and northeastern markets.

I agree very much with this.

This isn’t a good system. I guess the argument from me (from a league perspective) isn’t that the “loophole” needs to be closed, it’s that the CBA as a whole needs to be rewritten.

I very much disagree with this (although there is not so much black and white between where we stand.)  I think we both want what’s best for hockey and for our team.  I don’t see this system as a roadblock to that and think that some tweaks to the current system need to be fixed rather than the whole thing scrapped.  I like the set player’s share, the way the cap is calculated, and the concept of revenue sharing.  I don’t like that revenue sharing is too weak, the player’s share runs for the entire league as a whole instead of team-by-team, and that the cap floor is set too high.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/02/10 at 12:30 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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