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With 370 players and the Board of Governors staying in the same city, whose livelihood is it anyway?

With somewhere north of 270 NHLPA members to 30 members of the Board of Governors and Gary Bettman's entourage all in New York at the same time for separate CBA meetings, you'd think that it'd be a simple matter of getting enough people in the same room--and a small enough room--at the same time to force people to talk, but instead, the Board of Governors will rubber-stamp an all but inevitable lockout just after the PA's player meetings break up, and starting on Saturday, we'll be missing planned NHL hockey.

The Sporting News's Jesse Spector, the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek and Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika all penned superb later-evening missives which rightfully shoulder blame for the canceled games to come on both sides, but the NHLPA's resident Twitter warrior poet, Paul Bissonnette, reflected the pickle the players find themselves in as I prepare to print t-shirts saying, "I went to my team's NHL rink, and all they refused to do was take my money"...

 


Before the part-time grinder reminded us all that if the owners are the ones presenting the venues and the players the talent that draws fans to on-ice concerts whose ticket prices have nothing to do with player salaries, the NHL's collective bargaining plan is pretty damn weird given that they all but authored a CBA they now find untenable...

And Sportsnet's Micael Grange put things equally bluntly, while adding CBA proposal numbers to the picture sans any necessary calculus:

To put it another way, if there is a lockout -- and it seems like there will be one -- it will be because the owners and the players have agreed on one essential issue: Neither wants to leave the money they get out of this deal to chance. Neither wants to assume the risk of not making more money in the years to come.

The owners want their savings on player salaries immediately and they want it guaranteed.

The players want all the money they're making now as well as raises of two, four and six per cent, compounded, over the next three years.

A deal could be done if the owners softened their stance on the first year or two of the agreement and allowed the growth in league revenues to take the players' share down gradually and painlessly. And the players could do their part by accepting the likelihood that their path to future wealth lies in taking less -- even less than they would like -- of a growing business.

But no one wants to take any risk. Each side wants their cake and they want to eat it from a silver tray in a room with a five-star view. It's a philosophical divide disguised as a math problem and Wednesday did nothing to solve it.

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Comments

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I dont understand what the players plan on accomplishing or why the media is hyping all these players going to NYC?  All I know is if you put 300 people in a room you wont come to a conclusion. Thats the whole point of having Fehr and Bettman speak on behalf of there constituents. These deals get done between 2 people, not 300. If the players/NHLPA think that there presence does anything, than they are as stupid as they’ve been acting since the negotiations started. The NHL doesnt care if ALL the players that ever played showed up. Its not the 19th century and angry mobs aren’t going to prevail. Bettman said he knows the NHLPA is unified and he never doubted that, so give it up. Sign the deal and start playing hockey.

And someone should put a muzzle on Paul Bissonette or at least let him know that all the money you are fighting for is the FANS money. If he didnt have our support he would be bagging groceries in Canada.

Posted by callmedrw on 09/13/12 at 06:53 AM ET

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And the point of the cut is that you were over-paid in the first place, so your 24% argument is stupid. You will still make over 500,000 next year with the 24% reduction. I will never make that in a year and I spent the last 12 years of my life toiling away in college as a premed, med school and residency. Your 27. You should be making 20/hr or 50,000 salary somewhere.

Posted by callmedrw on 09/13/12 at 07:02 AM ET

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It appears that the players are doing everything they can to make themselves every bit as difficult to sympathize with as the owners, which is a perplexing strategy considering their only real leverage is in being the ‘wronged’ party and having whatever impact fan support might provide fall in their favor.

With dimbulbs like Bissonnette shooting off their mouths, that’s not even remotely likely to happen.

Paul B, lots of companies have rolled back salaries and benefits over the past 5 years because of the economy, not to mention an overall contraction of the workforce, and a lot of us didn’t start off making at least 700-800 grand a year.

If players want to actually try crying poverty… oof.  Stupid move.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/13/12 at 07:26 AM ET

Primis's avatar

That Paul Bissonnette is trying to be a bullhorn for the PA and how “players” want to “secure their future” is (to be honest) a large example of what’s wrong with the PA and how far up their own afts they have their heads.

The guy is not a “player” but in the very loosest sense of the word, and yet look at the money he makes, and look at the team he plays for and how uncertain things are for them and the mess they are in.

Yeesh.  Talk about making the owners’ case for them…

If he didnt have our support he would be bagging groceries in Canada.

Posted by callmedrw on 09/13/12 at 06:53 AM ET

Now now, he’s underqualified to do even that…

Posted by Primis on 09/13/12 at 07:55 AM ET

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And the point of the cut is that you were over-paid in the first place, so your 24% argument is stupid.

So, six years ago they all took a 24% cut and because of them the league is more successfull than ever and now they should take another pay cut?

Completel bullshit.

Posted by Garth on 09/13/12 at 09:06 AM ET

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And the point of the cut is that you were over-paid in the first place

The thing that I hope is ended with the new CBA is all this bullshit where players are allowed to bring a GUN into a contract meeting and put it to the owners’ HEADS in order to force them to sign the contracts!  It’s ridiculous to allow the players to threaten the owners with death of they don’t agree to the players’ demands.

Wait, what?  The owners agree to these contracts of their own free will?  Nobody forces them to sign the contracts?

Well then nevermind, because “you’re overpaid” if a f*cking bullshit complaint.

As someone on another thread said, if you signed a contract to get paid X dollars and your company as a whole was more successful than it has ever been, would you just take a pay cut because they want you to?

Yeah…sure you would…we all would, right?

Posted by Garth on 09/13/12 at 09:29 AM ET

TheFreak's avatar

And players are assuming in the current economic conditions, that the well won’t run dry? Is Phoenix making money? Is New Jersey making money?

If the company I worked for was in dire financial straights, and it was the only profession i could still make millions of dollars at, I may consider taking some % paycut.

I don’t sympathize with unions one bit, whether it’s the teacher’s in Chicago, GM’s auto workers or the governments TSA workers. All want to be over compensated for what they do at the expense of the working class.

What’s wrong with just earning what your worth? Even the bottom NHL guys still make at least 500k.

Posted by TheFreak on 09/13/12 at 09:34 AM ET

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As someone on another thread said, if you signed a contract to get paid X dollars and your company as a whole was more successful than it has ever been, would you just take a pay cut because they want you to?

Yeah…sure you would…we all would, right?

I wish people would stop using this obviously fraudulent comparison.

Here’s a much more accurate one:

If you sign a contract and your company was incredibly successful, but still asked you to take a pay cut, but even after the pay cut there’s not another company on the continent which could pay you even a quarter of what you’d then be making, would you still do it?

Look, the last time I checked nobody forced any of these players to play in the NHL.  If that league is being so awful to them, why, they are more than able to go play in some other league where they could get the treatment they feel they deserve.

Go play in the SEL, in Switzerland, in the pro leagues in Germany, hell, go play in the KHL.

Then get back to me about how awful the NHL treats and/or pays its players, and we’ll see how consistent their answers are.

There are legitimate arguments the players could be making in order to advance their case.  Crying poverty and trying to compare what they do to what people with actual jobs do is just about the worst thing they could possibly do.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/13/12 at 10:14 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I have no idea what that first tweet is supposed to mean, or why he’d tweet that.  This is the same guy who dropping interview gold with comments like “I’m a grower not a show’er”. 

He must think we’re as retarded as Bettman thinks we are, outstanding.

Between that, and Ian White’s “Maybe we should get 2/3s of the pie” comment…......  The f*ck are they thinking?  Are they TRYING to undermine the job Fehr is doing in the public arena?  You think he decided to address the media AGAIN the same day Bettman comes out bashing the NHLPA about not moving from their stance after he’d try to play the “we’re all playing nice” card??

Especially from PB who’s riding a GRAVY TRAIN as a borderline NHL talent paid over half mil for 6 mins of ACTUAL work every other night for 3 quarters of a year.  Does he think he’s posturing with the NHL so when he finally has his breakout year he’ll be compensated what he’s worth?  He was a shitty Hacksaw Jim Duggan as well, in case nobody told him

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/13/12 at 10:51 AM ET

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Look, the last time I checked nobody forced any of these players to play in the NHL.

Nor did anyone force the owners to buy an NHL team, nor did anyone force the owners to agree to the terms of the contracts with their players.

It doesn’t matter if there is another company in the world who can pay what the NHL pays because the owners still signed the players to the contracts.

If the owners want to decide that they’re not going to sign anyone else to 13-year, $100M contracts that’s fine, but that’s not what’s happening.  The owners are trying to get out of the contracts they signed.

What would happen if the players all decided that, across the board, they all wanted a 24% pay increase?  Would the owners go for that?  SHOULD the owners go for that?  No, of f*cking course not.  The owners would say “you signed these contracts, you can’t demand more money”, so why should the owners be allowed to change the deals just because some of them aren’t making money?  Some of them are making a LOT of money and the league as a whole is making a lot of money.

It’s not a fraudulant comparison.

If the league doesn’t want to honour the contracts then they should do what any other business would have to do.  Buy out the remaining terms on all of the contracts and re-start from there.

Go play in the SEL, in Switzerland, in the pro leagues in Germany, hell, go play in the KHL.

No, because THEY ALL HAVE NHL CONTRACTS THAT WERE NEGOTIATED IN GOOD FAITH.

Crying poverty and trying to compare what they do to what people with actual jobs do is just about the worst thing they could possibly do.

Pardon me?  Where is ANYONE in the PA crying poverty?  The league is crying poverty, the PA is simply saying “Pay us what you agreed to pay us.”  It has nothing to do with poverty and everything to do with honouring contracts.

Posted by Garth on 09/13/12 at 11:11 AM ET

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So if the McDonalds’ in Sioux Falls is failing, the McDonald’s employees in New York should take a pay cut? Let me make sure I understand how franchises are supposed to work.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/13/12 at 11:38 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Posted by Garth on 09/13/12 at 11:11 AM ET

Your logical statements will never sway these guys. I have no idea how anyone can side with the owners this time.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 09/13/12 at 12:01 PM ET

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compare what they do to what people with actual jobs do

So real jobs are only those that pay minimum wages I presume?  I guess very few people in North America have actual real jobs then.

Having said that, Paul Bissonnette should not try his hand at PR. His statements are tone deaf if nothing else.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/13/12 at 01:44 PM ET

TheFreak's avatar

I don’t have a horse in this race. It’s a free market, let them sort it out among themselves.

Some owners in deep because of the ridiculous contracts given out. Players want what they signed for. Owners should be held accountable for the contracts and stupidity, just as players should get what they signed for—under the current CBA.

A fan of hockey I am, less and less of the NHL though.

Posted by TheFreak on 09/13/12 at 02:54 PM ET

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Nor did anyone force the owners to buy an NHL team, nor did anyone force the owners to agree to the terms of the contracts with their players.

This is true, but all that equivalence of position does is make neither side an injured party.

It doesn’t matter if there is another company in the world who can pay what the NHL pays because the owners still signed the players to the contracts.

... and those contracts function under the aegis of the CBA which governs them, not the other way around.

And just to be clear, I haven’t read anywhere that the NHL is asking for one of those rollbacks like happened in the last lockout, so the argument that the players are going to have their salaries automatically reduced is a bit specious.  ‘All’ the NHL is asking for substantively is a reduction in players overall share.

That may result in a reduction of take home due to escrow protecting against share overpayment, it may not.

What would happen if the players all decided that, across the board, they all wanted a 24% pay increase?

Garth, I don’t know what you’re trying to argue here, really.  My point is that when you are negotiating a CBA the contracts written under a previous one aren’t considered sacrosanct, nor should they be.  New CBA, new rules.

If the league doesn’t want to honour the contracts then they should do what any other business would have to do.  Buy out the remaining terms on all of the contracts and re-start from there.

Who said the league didn’t want to honor the terms of existing contracts?  Again, you’re confusing the idea of players share with some across the board automatic reduction in pay.  That’s not the case.

No, because THEY ALL HAVE NHL CONTRACTS THAT WERE NEGOTIATED IN GOOD FAITH.

But they don’t have a CBA, which sets the overall rules of the league under which contracts may be negotiated.  You appear to be confused by which agreements hold primacy.  If you agree to a contract to mow someones lawn for 10 years, but that person moves out after 2 years, the new owners aren’t obligated to pay you to mow their lawn for 8 years.

The primacy of the home ownership supercedes that of the services contract.

In short, not all contracts are equally valid and equally enforceable.

Pardon me?  Where is ANYONE in the PA crying poverty?

Paul Bissonnette when he says “The players understand your frustration. But at the end of the day we are fighting for our futures, not yours. That’s the reality.”

So real jobs are only those that pay minimum wages I presume?  I guess very few people in North America have actual real jobs then.

That’s such a ridiculously clumsy attempt at LSD-introduced hyper-inference I’ll let those drugs run their course and give you another shot at making a cogent point.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/13/12 at 04:56 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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