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The Malik Report

Danny Cleary’s not thrilled with the NHL’s win-at-all-costs mentality, and neither am I

I'm still working through a depressive episode to come back to work and cover what seems more likely than not to be a second "NHL season that wasn't." Red Wings forward Danny Cleary attended the NHL and NHLPA's meetings in New York today, and he delivered some bummerific commentary to the Free Press's Helene St. James when discussing the NHL's out-of-hand dismissal of the NHLPA's CBA proposal:

After attending today’s afternoon session in New York, Cleary told the Free Press, "it didn't go well. We pretty much agreed on everything, except stuff that matters. A lot of players today are extremely upset about this."

NHL owners and the players have been at odds over a new collective bargaining agreement since Sept. 16. More than 300 games already have been cancelled, including the Winter Classic scheduled for Jan. 1 between the Wings and Toronto.

Any chance of an early December start hinged on reaching an accord this week. The sides may meet again Friday, but the latest meeting revealed the two are still on opposite sides of a sizable chasm.

"As players, the word would be: Frustrated, disappointed," Cleary said. He was at the meetings as a player representative. "It's just, it seems almost after every proposal, we haven't gotten anything on our side, and we've continually moved towards them. I think as players, we really felt that we've come a long way. They just didn't budge on the bigger issues with us. It seems like a lot of give from players, and all the taking is on their side."

Asked if it feels like NHL wants players to give up everything, Cleary replied, "It's not what it feels like, it's what it is."

The PA delivered a five-year proposal in the morning; by afternoon, the NHL had deemed it untenable.

I care far too much about the Red Wings' players, prospects, coaches, management and yes, the owners who approved this third lockout to walk away from the team I've followed since 1991. The people who make up the Red Wings are, by and large, remarkably good people, and that's the only reason that I haven't walked away from the game.

But I'm beginning to think that such loyalty speaks poorly of the mental health of anyone who follows this sport. This third owners' lockout is so completely unnecessary, so completely useless, and Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and the Board of Governors' pursuit of total victory through total war--after already scuttling a season to write a dream-CBA that isn't idiot-proofed enough or "fair" enough for the people who have signed the checks they no longer want to pay in full to the "talent" that brings fans to rinks charging supply-and-demand versus salaries-vs-expenditures prices for tickets...

And I don't know whether the league truly understands how thoroughly it's f***ing with the hearts and minds of the sport's most ardent fans, or how much willingly-spent money, time, energy and faith in the game are going up in flames as we march toward the inevitable cancelation of the 2012-2013 season.

I'll be back as soon as I can, but it appears that this beleagured blogger is working very hard to come back and grieve another lost season with his friends.

That reality might have been different if the NHL had decided to play through negotiations--negotiations that couldn't truly begin until the NHL handed those 100,000+ pages of independently-audited books over to the PA on July 29th--but instead, Bettman, Daly and the Board decided that 0% of $3.3 billion was "more fair" than 43% of what would probably have been more money given that so many teams predictably raised ticket prices irrespective of their labor costs, and instead, those of us who care too much to walk away are faced with the prospect of a league that's intent upon nuking the village in order to save it for the third time over the last eighteen years and the second time over the past eight seasons...

And as you and I already know, the billionaires who are trying to shake down millionaires "at all costs" are truly screwing over their fans, their business partners, their sponsors, and, most importantly, the millions of people who depend on 41 NHL games' worth of in-rink and out-of-rink spending to pay their bills.

That's incredibly depressing.

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TheRealYooper's avatar

I have started wearing a black arm band.

When people ask me who died, I tell them the NHL.

Posted by TheRealYooper from within sight of the edge of the Earth. on 11/21/12 at 07:54 PM ET


instead, Bettman, Daly and the Board decided that 0% of $3.3 billion was “more fair” than 43% of what would probably have been more money

I think George does a pretty good job here encapsulating the ‘pro-player’ side of this issue.

Here’s the reality, George.  43% of revenue when you have 15ish members in a league functioning at a loss in hockey ops is a meaningless amount.  Where operational units make their profits is in arena ownership and secondary events (concerts, other events, etc.).  The NHL team serves as a loss leader more or less that allows those arena management groups to actually get the arena in the first place, but once you get past that and into the day to day bottom line business side of things, NHL teams are for the most part a liability.

That’s why the NHL is willing to stop hockey every time the CBA expires.  There is an amazing financial incentive to do so.  Giving the players 57% of revenue in a gate driven league with a nearly-meaningless TV contract is stupidity.

Yes, it is a stupidity that the owners and Bettman inflicted upon themselves and yes, it is a stupidity that I am far from certain the owners and Bettman are capable of avoiding in the future.  That said, the owners and Bettman should not have to suffer indefinitely under the terms of their previously stupid deal just… because.

You don’t expect a player to simply return at the same price when his last UFA deal expires if that deal was beneficial to the team.

You don’t expect yourself to just re-up a bad lease, or phone plan, or personal services contract when it expires if that deal wasn’t beneficial to you.

That you and the other pro-player people here so constantly bang the drum that yeah, the owners should just keep operating under a bad deal once the bad deal expires because you want to see hockey is 1) selfish and 2) hypocritical.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/22/12 at 05:06 AM ET


Thanks Dan, Irespect what you’ve said. Hearing those words from a seasoned NHL veteran; whose expierenced a lockout, tells me alot. I believe many of your fellow NHL players feel similarly. US ARDENT HOCKEY FANS are extremely disappointed in the Owners and Mr. Bettman. They have not budged considering how much you players have offered to give up. From a disgusted FAN…......OWNERS WAKE UP!!  give us fans A HOCKEY SEASON….cuz you’ll lose considerably more from US FANS LATER…...WE GAURANTEE THAT!!!!!!!!.........Sincerely rayzredwing

Posted by rayzredwing on 11/22/12 at 05:24 AM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

for someone fighting through a depression you have very clear and sound thoughts george. wish you all the best.

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 11/22/12 at 12:34 PM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Thanksgiving over.

Now deliver us fans an early X-Mas present by being reasonable you a-hole BOGs.

Sell your NHL team if you ain’t making enough money off of it.


Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 11/26/12 at 04:52 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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