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Red Wings sound the players line before departing for NHLPA meetings; Holland to attend BoG meetings

Updated 3x at 2:14 PM: I know that we're talking about billionaires versus millionaires, arguing over how to divvy up $3.3 billion dollars of fans' money, but as the NHL prepares to announce that its Board of Governors has voted to lock out the players at a presser scheduled for 3:30 PM EDT on Thursday, and over half the Red Wings' players will later make comments to the media when 300 or more NHLPA members meet not too far from the Crowne Plaza Times Square (players will be at the Mariott)...

But the players are the ones who are essentially being told, "I'm altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further" despite the fact that the NHL and one Bill Daly essentially authored the current CBA by themselves (at least once Bob Goodenow left the room), so I for one understand where the Red Wings' presumptive captain-to-be is coming from when he spoke to the Free Press's Helene St. James about his take on what's to come:

"Everyone is hurting if there's going to be a lockout," Zetterberg said. "Us players really know that. A lot of us went through it in '04. And it's not just the players that are hurting -- the fans, everyone around the buildings, all the businesses that are around hockey, is going to hurt. That's what us, as a union, really tried to have not happen. We're really trying to solve the problem and find a fair deal."

Note to Wings players, btw: tell fans where you're practicing, at least occasionally. Charge $5. Donate to charity. Goodwill and all.

Anyway, Ian White agrees with Zetterberg, and he told St. James that the players are much more resolute about the concept that a second owners' "bailout" over the course of eight years makes no sense if the league isn't going to address the disparities between teams that stand to profit way, way more from lower payroll costs--like the Wings--and those that won't profit regardless of how low salaries go:

White said there's far more cohesiveness among players this time around, compared with 2004. "Without question. Guys are all on the same page. Pretty much everyone across the board is informed. The last one was pretty much the polar opposite. No one really knew what was going on. Things were going on behind people's backs and stuff. It's a lot different this time around."


Asked why, White credited executive director Donald Fehr. "Better leadership is probably the best thing," White said. "Players are thinking collectively. We kind of got taken advantage of a little bit last time, just because we weren't as tight as we are now, we weren't as informed. The deal worked out not too bad in the end, but initially, it looked like it was real bad for the players, and I think that was because we weren't on the same page."

The union has estimated that 250-300 players will be in New York.

"A bunch of us are going to show we're united, that we're all going to stick together through thick and thin," White said. "If we get a resolution, that would be the best thing -- if not in the next few days, hopefully, real soon."

At this point, I'd like to point out that as much as I adore Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch, Ken Holland and the Wings organization, and as much as I think it sucks that the game-night employees and team staff will be hurt the most by this lockout, with average restauranteurs, waitstaff, hotels and memorabilia salespeople to follow...

I find it utterly ridiculous that a team whose profits will doubtlessly ensure that the salary cap continues to rise in an "inflationary spiral" over the course of the next CBA is so willing to be a good citizen that Holland or whoever represents the Wings at tomorrow's Board of Governors meeting will rubber-stamp a second lockout in eighty ears and a third under Gary Bettman's reign.

Even with this, as noted by RedWingsFeed, in the front of my thoughts:

 

I don't know about you, but I'm one conflicted Wings fan today, and will remain one throughout the lockout.

Anyway, the Wings' players reiterated their comments to the Macoimb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...

 

And, well, I can only shake my head knowing who will be voting to lock the players he's so loyal to and fair with out, and agree with Ian White, per the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

General manager Ken Holland is representing the Wings at a Board of Governors meeting Thursday, during which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will get the OK to lock out the players if there's no CBA in place. The league locked out players the entire 2004-05 season.

"Another extended lockout would be terrible for the fans; it's just going to be a slap in the face," defenseman Ian White said. "They responded unbelievably to the last one in record numbers (in attendance), and this time they'd be really hurt. You hate to see that. The players genuinely care about the fans. We're fans, as well."

The players insist they are much more united this time around compared to 2004.

Donald Fehr is the NHLPA director this time. There are no factions among players, the Red Wings say, as there were under Bob Goodenow in the last CBA negotiation.

"That has a lot to do with the information guys got this summer," Zetterberg said. "Everyone is real informed. In 2004, you didn't know what was going on. This time, as soon as there is a meeting or something happens, it's on our apps or e-mails. Everyone is on the same page. Just having 250 guys together today is real proof of that."

It might be a long war, Hank. "Us fans " are hoping for the best as well, but the league's track record is pretty bloody poor.

That Winter Classic logo the Wings revealed two weeks ago should have had an asterisk attached to it, stating, "If Necessary (and by the way, Ticketmaster won't refund those $30-40 fees per ticket, ha ha)."

In the interim, again, I'm all ears as to whether you'd like to hold a gathering at the Joe to stand up for the average team and rink employees who will get screwed, or whether you'd be willing to meet up in New York or Toronto to protest. Even if we can only be buzzing flies whose opinions the league doesn't care about, that buzz can and should be persistent, annoying, and loud.

Update: Here's the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's take:

“Guys are all on the same page, everyone across the board’s informed,” Ian White said Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena after another informal skate. “The last one was pretty much the polar opposite, nobody knew what was going on. Things were going on behind people’s backs. It’s a lot different this time around.”

“I think that has a lot to do with all the information we got this summer,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Everyone was really informed. Guys over in Europe, it was a huge difference from ’04. Back in ’04, you really didn’t know what was going on, except what you were reading in the papers. This time around, as soon as we have a meeting or something happens, we have it on our emails later that afternoon. We all know, a lot more guys are on the conference calls, so we can spread the message around really good. Everyone is on the same page. Just having 250 guys going there today is proof of that.”

There were many fractions in the union the last time around that cost the league the entire 2004-05 season.

“I couldn’t even compare it to last time,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I know I was younger at the time and I didn’t have any clue what was going on. And I think a lot of the younger guys felt the older guys would just take care of things, they’ll make a good deal. Now it feels like a lot of the younger guys want to be a part of this and want to be involved. I think that’s great seeing them at these meeting, on the conference calls wanting to make their voice heard.”

Update #2: Here's more from Pleiness:

Quick quote from Wings defenseman Ian White: “I’m big-time worried. If we go through another extended lockout, it’s terrible for the fans. It’s just going to slap them in the face. They responded unbelievable to the last one. They came back in record numbers. This time they’d be really, really hurt. You hate to see that. The players genuinely care about the fans. We’re always doing interactive things with them. We’re fans as well. It definitely hurts the players, it seems, a lot more than it’s going to hurt the owners, because they’re the ones who are locking us out.”

Update #3: The Wings' players spoke to MLive's Ansar Khan as well, and Ian White told Khan that he does not expect you or I to sympathize with his plight:

“Why would there be any sympathy for us, or for them (owners)?'' White said. “We just want our fair share. We're the workforce and we're the product. Maybe we should get two-thirds of the pie. ... We just want a fair piece and don't want to get taken advantage of.''

Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, who is on the NHLPA's negotiating committee, is cognizant of the far-reaching implications of a lockout.

“Everyone is hurting if there is going to be a lockout,'' Zetterberg said. “A lot of us went through it in '04. It's not just players that are hurting, it's fans, everyone in the building, all the businesses around hockey are going to hurt. As a union … we're really trying to solve the problem and find a fair deal.''

Many wonder why there has to be a labor dispute at a time when the game has never been more prosperous.

“There's no doubt that hockey is in a good place as of right now,'' Red Wings player representative Niklas Kronwall said. “Fans are coming to the games and we're growing revenues every year. We have the greatest fans. We just have to make sure not to mess it up too bad for them to walk away from it.''

...

“There's still a few more days to work on this, so hopefully we can get a deal done sooner rather than later,'' Kronwall said.

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Comments

Heaton's avatar

So, the NHLPA’s solution is to keep offering the same proposal over and over with slight ‘tweaks’ until the NHL decides to accept it?  Sweet. 

This is going to be a really, really long lockout and as much as Z and any other of our favorite and most loved players can say the right things about the fans and all of the other employees who will be out of their 10 dollar an hour jobs while the owners and players mull over % points in their mansions and play golf we get to wait and get more and more frustrated.  But it’s nice to know they think about us.

Only slightly bitter about having at least one lockout every single decade.

Posted by Heaton on 09/12/12 at 12:39 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I can’t blame people who are trying to make a living for not being keen on being asked to “give at the office” simply because their employers want more, regardless of their socioeconomic statuses.

The owners may provide the stage, but the players make the music, and the owners charge whatever their respective markets can bear…owners aren’t promising to do anything other than allow their “musicians,” if you will, to play if they “give at the office” and take a smaller percentage of the “cut.”

That kind of repeated business demand and collective bargaining plan is…baffling at best. I can at least understand where the players are coming from, even though I’ll never be in their income bracket.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/12/12 at 12:49 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Welcome to another fun edition of “the players are just as likely to say dumb things as the owners” and a new installment of “J.J. reads too much into shit”

Ian White says:

Maybe we should get two-thirds of the pie

Of course, that would be a 9% increase in the players’ share and Ian White PROBABLY didn’t really mean that as part of an actual piece of negotiating, but it’s a dumbass thing to say when public opinion is generally swaying towards the idea that the players will have to take less, but not severely less.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/12/12 at 01:22 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Agreed.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/12/12 at 01:32 PM ET

Avatar

As a general rule I don’t think people know too much about what it takes to actually run an NHL team, costs wise.  Yes, “The owners may provide the stage, but the players make the music”, but the owners also provide the building the concert is it, the chairs, the transportation to and from the concerts, the conductor, the people who sell the tickets. the advertising that makes people aware the concert is going to happen, all the way down to the instruments the players use, and then the doctors to help fix the players.

This isn’t an ‘owners rule, players drool’ post, but people should look at this issue a little more critically.  Slogans are fun, but rarely accurate.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/12/12 at 01:38 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’ve repeatedly said this: I want the owners to make money, too. I understand that they’re paying the brunt of the “production costs,” but in professional sports, anything around a 50-50 split of salaries to revenues is considered “fair,” and depending on how you interpret revenues, the PA is either getting 7% more than that (per the NHL) or 1% more than that (per the PA).

At the same time, I would rather support the side that’s saying, “Um, how exactly does giving back a big chunk of the $3.3 billion pie help your thirty-team business model, other than to stave off another one of these lockouts for 5-7 years?” as opposed to, “We’re paying them too much” after locking players out for a year to literally author the present CBA.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/12/12 at 01:47 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/12/12 at 02:38 PM ET

Absolutely.  It also doesn’t help the owners when the NHLPA is proposing to scatter profits throughout the league to teams who can’t make money.

Posted by TreKronor on 09/12/12 at 01:49 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The NHL is the party insistent upon maintaining a 30-team business plan. The players want to stabilize that plan via revenue-sharing, and the owners…don’t really give a shit about continuing to make things worse by re-setting the growth of a salary cap that will accelerate as usual and leave us in the same place we are now half a decade from today.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/12/12 at 01:54 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

The players want to stabilize that plan via revenue-sharing, and the owners…don’t really give a shit about continuing to make things worse by re-setting the growth of a salary cap that will accelerate as usual and leave us in the same place we are now half a decade from today.

The player’s union is simply watching out for their brethren to ensure there are 30 teams, and a well employed labor force. 

I’d be interested to see a poll of how many current players, and how many current owners would prefer not to have a salary cap.

Posted by TreKronor on 09/12/12 at 01:59 PM ET

Avatar

At the same time, I would rather support the side that’s saying, “Um, how exactly does giving back a big chunk of the $3.3 billion pie help your thirty-team business model, other than to stave off another one of these lockouts for 5-7 years?” as opposed to, “We’re paying them too much” after locking players out for a year to literally author the present CBA.

That’s fine, and I generally ‘side’ with the players on this issue as well.

Since we don’t have actual numbers all any of us can do is guess, but as I mentioned in a different post I think the NHL is trying to address the overall health of smaller-market teams, albeit in a slightly accidental and wholly disingenuous manner.

Specifically, it appears that they are trying to set the revenue split at such a level that any team which spends to the midpoint and draws 14,000 fans can be at least a break even operation.

The (likely intended) side effect of this is that owners of successful teams are going to rake in HUGE money.

So I generally agree with your position and opinion here George, I think it’s also important that we keep an open mind of subsequent developments.  For example, according to the USA Today, Bettman’s most recent proposal ” that would phase in a reduction of their share of league revenues from 57% to a 50-50 split by the fourth year.”

Further, “According to details provided to USA TODAY Sports, the plan calls for fixed dollars in the first three seasons that would put players share of revenue at 51.6% in 2012-13, 50.5% in 2013-14 and 49.6% in 2014-15. In the final three years, the players and owners would split revenue 50-50.”

If that’s correct and the players are balking, then it’s safe to start giving the players the stink-eye here as well, at least unless some kinds of shenanigans are going on with what ‘revenue’ is defined to mean.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/12/12 at 03:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Further, “According to details provided to USA TODAY Sports, the plan calls for fixed dollars in the first three seasons that would put players share of revenue at 51.6% in 2012-13, 50.5% in 2013-14 and 49.6% in 2014-15. In the final three years, the players and owners would split revenue 50-50.”

If that’s correct and the players are balking, then it’s safe to start giving the players the stink-eye here as well, at least unless some kinds of shenanigans are going on with what ‘revenue’ is defined to mean.

I heard today that the latest league proposal drops the request to redefine HRR.

If that’s the case and HRR remains the same, then I agree that this owners’ proposal may just have the right revenue split down, even if they still have to fix the revenue sharing model to make the league care at LEAST as much about the smaller-market teams as the players have been expected to in the last few sets of proposals.

If it’s not true that they’ve dropped the request to redefine HRR, then it’s still not quite stink-eye-for-the-players territory because it’s a PR-laden move.

The last proposal that had the 51.6% number set the fixed cap at $58M, which essentially changed the definition of HRR from $3.3B to $2.9B without any explanation about where the roughly $370M was going.

It also didn’t roll-back salaries, which would have essentially guaranteed that players giving back 20% of their salaries at the end of the year.

Neither side has made an offer that’s been horribly friendly (from the details of the offers I’ve seen).  I’m interested in getting more details about how much closer each side has gotten today.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/12/12 at 03:18 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

What I think I’m gathering from the discussion is that the league HAS dropped their last request to redefine HRR and have offered a six-year deal that starts the players’ share at 49% and rolls it down to 47% by the end of the deal. 

That’s an extra $260M off the total player salaries and (provided nothing else about how the cap is calculated changes), would make the salary cap for this season $61.9M

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/12/12 at 03:26 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I absolutely have to disagree HD.  Still doesn’t address the fact the league is trying to redifine what revenue is shared considerably, hence the large gap between the two.

Let’s also consider a total of what, 11m was divided between all teams qualified to recieve HRR funds?  That doesn’t seem like meaningful revenue sharing and the league isn’t presenting a proposal that takes that money that they want and help struggling teams, the same teams the league says the players need to take a pay-cut to support, even though the players don’t have the option of deciding if the league expands or not.

Just can’t get on board with you on this one.

I 100% understand the players position and if I were in it, would be doing the EXACT same thing.  They know what they’re worth and everything Daly and Bettman have said has been snide and condescending whilst trying to incinuate things that matter, really don’t, like independant audits.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/12/12 at 03:37 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

If it’s not true that they’ve dropped the request to redefine HRR, then it’s still not quite stink-eye-for-the-players territory because it’s a PR-laden move.

The last proposal that had the 51.6% number set the fixed cap at $58M, which essentially changed the definition of HRR from $3.3B to $2.9B without any explanation about where the roughly $370M was going.


EXACTLY.. though I hadn’t heard they’d dropped the request to redefine HRR, I’ll have to get caught up on my reading today.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/12/12 at 03:39 PM ET

Avatar

The last proposal that had the 51.6% number set the fixed cap at $58M, which essentially changed the definition of HRR from $3.3B to $2.9B without any explanation about where the roughly $370M was going.

Super quick math:

58 mil cap /.516 player share x 30 teams = 3.37 billion.

Flipping it around, a 3.3 billion pot with 51.6% allowed to players = 1.702 billion.

1.702 billion divided by the 30 teams = a $56,733,333 projected cap per team.

Assuming I’m making some rounding errors, it looks like the whole 3.3 billion is being included in that 58 mil cap.

Which means the players are going to start looking pretty greedy really soon.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/12/12 at 03:42 PM ET

Avatar

I absolutely have to disagree HD.  Still doesn’t address the fact the league is trying to redifine what revenue is shared considerably, hence the large gap between the two.

My quick math suggest that isn’t the case, but it’s hard to know for certain.

Let’s also consider a total of what, 11m was divided between all teams qualified to recieve HRR funds?  That doesn’t seem like meaningful revenue sharing and the league isn’t presenting a proposal that takes that money that they want and help struggling teams, the same teams the league says the players need to take a pay-cut to support, even though the players don’t have the option of deciding if the league expands or not.

“The league’s Tuesday proposal didn’t address team revenue sharing. The NHL has offered to increase revenue sharing to $190 million to $200 million while the NHLPA is seeking $240 million.”

If that’s the case then we’re talking about a pretty significant kitty for small-market teams to split.  If 8-10 teams qualify, which seems like a decent number, you’re talking about 20 million bucks per team in revenue sharing Even if half the league qualifies for revenue sharing, which strikes me as absurd but whatever, you’re still talking about 13-15 mil a team.

Here’s my general position: I think a 50-50 split between the two parties is fair.  Just because it used to be more doesn’t impact the fairness of that amount now.  Other sports are right in line with that.  If the NHLPA is walking away from a 50-50 split and there aren’t any poison pills snuck in (like HRR redefinition, or FA status changes, or contract terminology shifts) then it’s going to be pretty tough to set up a cogent argument which absolves them of significant guilt in any loss of games played.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/12/12 at 03:51 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Super quick math:

58 mil cap /.516 player share x 30 teams = 3.37 billion.

Flipping it around, a 3.3 billion pot with 51.6% allowed to players = 1.702 billion.

1.702 billion divided by the 30 teams = a $56,733,333 projected cap per team.

Assuming I’m making some rounding errors, it looks like the whole 3.3 billion is being included in that 58 mil cap.

Which means the players are going to start looking pretty greedy really soon.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/12/12 at 04:42 PM ET

So you’re making the assumption that the difference between the midpoint and the cap is going to decrease from $8M to $1.3M?

That’s why I mentioned I was assuming no other changes to the way the cap is calculated.

My math was based off a $58M salary cap equaling a $50M salary midpoint, which would drop the players’ share of revenues to $1.5B

$1.5B / .516 players share = $2.9B defined HRR

Either one of our math solutions could be correct and the only way to know is to truly get a hold of what the owners were truly proposing, but I am extremely confident based on the context of what I’ve been reading and what I know about the owners that their proposal had more to do with severely limiting the definition of HRR rather than severely limiting the scope of the midpoint-to-cap relationship.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/12/12 at 04:01 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

That’s why I mentioned I was assuming no other changes to the way the cap is calculated.

Apologies, I didn’t mention that this time.  I’ve mentioned it previously, but not in this discussion, so it wasn’t clear that I was making the assumption that you have to drop $8M off the cap to get the per-team spending assumption that they use.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/12/12 at 04:04 PM ET

Avatar

At this point everything appears to be murky enough that the issues are tough to target accurately,

My general assumptions at this time (which may be completely wrong) is that the NHL made an offer that steps down to a 50-50 split over the term of the deal, that HRR isn’t being substantively adjusted, and that the profit sharing contributions of the league will go from wherever they were to nearly 200 million a season.

I have no idea what the NHL has offered with regards to term of contracts, RFA rules, whatever.

Assuming the above is true, I’m willing to place 51% of the blame for this mess on the players.  A controlling interest, barely.

If those assumptions are wrong in whole or in part, well, then who knows.

The part of this that really perplexes me is that there certainly appears to be a deal to be made.  Even if the NHL has slipped a couple doozies in their fine print, there’s a legitimate argument to be made for a number of their positions.

That the NHLPA appears to be so dismissive of the offer makes me somewhat worried that Fehr is seeking to protect that 57% number.  All of the leaks that have come out lately have been regarding the NHL’s plan, which leads me to suspect that the NHL thinks there is a PR battle to be won by doing so.

I’d love to see what the NHLPA has been firing back with.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/12/12 at 07:47 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.