The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/18/12 at 04:12 AM ET
This CBA business seems to be taking a toll on everyone’s nerves. I deliberately chose not to post a slate of afternoon quips because I knew I couldn’t do so without losing my temper, and this morning’s crop of stories of both Red Wings and CBA-related note offer what I can only describe as a less than fuzzy entry’s worth of gravel, sandpaper and grime.
• First, if you thought that the Hockey News’s prediction that the Red Wings would finish seventh in the Western conference was indelicate, the Los Angeles Kings advertised a roundtable of hockey bloggers making playoff predictions of their own as follows, and the Red Wings responded in kind:
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) August 17, 2012
@lakings awwww so cute. Like a little puppy yapping for attention. Let us know if you need someone to show you how to hang that banner.
• In terms of other news from the Wings:
• If you’re interested, Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy revealed the Western Conference teams’ rankings in terms of speed/skill/etc. as described by EA Sports’ NHL 13:
Detroit Red Wings (Offense: 4, Defense: 4.5, Goalies: 4): Pavel Datsyuk (95), Henrik Zetterberg (89), Niklas Kronwall (88)
• And if you’re into that sort of thing, Puck Daddy’s Harrison Mooney steers us toward The Classical’s Jesse Ruddock’s recollection of the time that Todd Bertuzzi knocked her out while she was playing goal—at 11 years of age—via a slap shot to the head;
• In foreign-language news, Valtteri Filppula apparently visited youth hockey players developing under the guidance of Finnish SM-Liiga team HPK Hameenlinna’s youth hockey program:
• In Russia, Sovetsky Sport points us to an article on KP.ru chronicling Pavel Datsyuk’s visit with a 12-year-old gymnast. According to Komsomolskaya Pravda’s Vitaly Averyanov and Maria Chepurnov, Marat Mullayarov’s mother asked the newspaper if they could help them celebrate her son’s 13th birthday, and they did so by asking Datsyuk to visit Marat.
Datsyuk agreed and (as you can see in the photos which accompany the article), showed up with a Red Wings hat, a McFarlane Sports Figure, an autographed picture of himself, and, according to Averyanov and Chepurnov, Datsyuk very quietly gave Mullayarnov’s mom “a wad of money”;
• If you are interested as we stick with foreign-language and/or across-the-Atlantic news, most of the Wings European-playing prospects are taking part in the European Trophy tournament right now, and I think it’s a pretty safe guess that Jiri Fischer is helping coach the Czech Under-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament;
• Heading back over to this side of the pond, as a reminder, from the Windsor Star’s Julie Kotsis:
Kevin Westgarth is bringing the Stanley Cup to [Amhertsburg, Ontario] on a day proclaimed Kevin Westgarth Day.
The Amherstburg native and L.A. Kings forward, who is also being honoured with the naming of the main dressing room corridor at the United Communities Credit Union Complex as Westgarth Way, will arrive at the Canadian Tire parking lot, 380 Sandwich St. S., on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
A procession to the UCCU Complex will depart at 9:45 a.m. A public ceremony at the complex will follow and a limited number of commemorative brochures will be handed out. Westgarth will also sign autographs. The Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association and the town are expected to make presentations.
• In trade and/or free agent discussion: the fact that the Nashville Predators signed Scott Hannan to a 1-year, $1 million contract on Friday did not surprise me. The Red Wings have clearly chosen to not make any more additions until after the CBA is negotiated, and when the Wings do dip into the free agent marketplace, the pool of available unrestricted free agent defensemen still available isn’t fantastic, but isn’t terrible, either. I don’t think they were looking for a Scott Hannan—I think the Wings still want to find someone with better offensive chops;
• Let’s all be stunned that the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reported that the Phoenix Coyotes and Shane Doan “are in a holding pattern” until the CBA and the team’s ownership issues are settled;
• Sports Illustrated’s Stu Hackel may have noted the most important Red Wings-related happening to take place over the next month given both CBA uncertainty and given the manner in which the Red Wings’ team has been constructed:
Amidst all the CBA talk, there are still real hockey issues to discuss and one largely forgotten event takes place on Tuesday August 21 and Wednesday Aug. 22 in Toronto. A planned mini-summit of general managers, coaches, players, on-ice officials and the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department will convene at the league offices to discuss some significant rules, specifically whether the standards of obstruction — an essential part of the “new rules” introduced after the 2004-05 lockout to speed up the game — have slipped in recent years.
“I think it’s time to review it,” NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell told Red Light on Friday. “I don’t think it’s broken, but I don’t think it’s perfect either. I think we have accepted a little bit of retraction on the penalty calls. It’s time to take a hard look at it again after eight years and re-gauge it.”
The meeting grew out of the GMs gathering in March during which some expressed concern that the league had softened its resolve to restrict interference, hooking and holding. That perception had also been circulating in the media, and while it wasn’t part of the GMs’ complaints, the fact is that with goal scoring having declined annually since the post-lockout rules were implemented, the return of clutching and grabbing was blamed. Teams averaged 6.16 goals per game in 2005-06. Last season, it was 5.32 per game, on a par with the Dead Puck Era just prior to the lockout.
The Hockey Operations Department asked teams to submit video examples of what they saw as problematic. “We got eight or ten teams sending things in after that March meeting,” Campbell said. “Mostly we got examples of interference on the forecheck, running the gauntlet, holding up guys. We didn’t’ get any examples of hooking or holding, but we’re still going to ask the questions.”
Among those who will be in Toronto to help answer those questions are Predators coach Barry Trotz, Sabres GM Darcy Regier, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, Penguins GM Ray Shero, Bruins coach Claude Julien, Canucks GM Mike Gillis, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. Director of Officiating Terry Gregson and Manager of Officiating Bill McCreary, both former refs, will attend along with a few active referees and linesmen. Campbell declined to identify the players who will join them because not all are confirmed as attending, but he said the group includes both forwards and defensemen.
This meeting grew out of the GMs’ meeting in June, at which the videos submitted by the clubs were reviewed and the managers discussed what they saw. “I think the standard did slip a little bit, but I think it is as much the strategy combined with that that equals how teams are successful,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson told NHL.com at the time. “It is always been our goal to clarify how we want the game played.”
There was some disagreement on what should and shouldn’t be penalized, so Campbell suggested the summer meeting to chew over the problem and make recommendations to the larger group of GMs. The Hockey Operations staff has collected a great deal of examples from games as the raw material to which the group will respond.
“We’ll show a lot of video,” Campbell said. “We’ll map it out. We’ll show lots of calls and non-calls, calls that we thought were wrongly called. And the question we’ll ask the managers, players, and coaches is, ‘In your mind, should this have been called or not called?”
• And beginning a bit of indelicate talk…
I’m calling both shenanigans and bullshit on a rumor I tried to debunk on Twitter. Whoever the hell runs “rant sports” seems to want to run their website like a new Bleacher Report, where anyone can write for them and say anything they want without citing their sources or attempting to write in any sort of professional manner, and a certain Rant Sports writer claims that “one slowly circulating rumor” involves the Red Wings trading Tomas Jurco—which should perk up your BS meter immediately—for Florida Panthers defensive prospect Keaton Ellerby, who would theoretically magically fit into the top four despite never having played an NHL game, and I quote:
Apparently Keaton Ellerby is possibly what they’ve been searching for and could easily fill in at the very least on the second pairing.
Rumor made up on Hockey’s Future Boards? Wrapped in “maybe kinda sorta could possibly” language? PUBLISH, PUBLISH!
Bullshit. The first rule of trying to do this writing about hockey thing for a living is, “Don’t make shit up,” and the second is, “Always cite your sources.” Violations of both rules are taking place here, and if we are to take into account the fact that the Red Wings…
A) Already have two somewhat unproven youngsters on their blueline in Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl, and as such, need a veteran defenseman;
B) And are in no position to swap out a prospect of Tomas Jurco’s quality for someone that the team would theoretically rush into NHL duty—which the Red Wings never do;
I would suggest that you give whatever Rant Sports produces the same level of credence that anything coming from Bleacher Report should receive—NONE.
And getting to the heart of the indelicate talk matter, on Friday morning…
• Lyle “Spector” Richardson tossed off a, “You Are Powerless Fans” take on the CBA situation, while Sportsnet’s Luke Fox spoke to a young lady named Alexa who is encouraging a boycott of the NHL on Twitter, Facebook and especially in terms of merchandise under the following name:
The players stand together. The owners stand together. And now we, the fans, need to stand together!— UnfollowNHLSept15 (@UnfollowNHLSept) August 17, 2012
• And as MLive’s Brendan Savage penned two articles about the lockout, the CBC’s Justin Piercy compared Gary Bettman’s comments from 2004 to the comments he’s made lately, Pro Hockey Talk’s Jason Brough pointed us toward an article regarding the futility of the “players must save the owners from themselves” argument from the National Post’s Kelly McParland, PHT’s Mike Halford provided us with a preliminary “attendance list” for Donald Fehr’s Kelowna, BC players’ meeting from the Kelowna Capital News, and Sportsnet’s Chris Nichols pointed us to an article from the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan which proves that more players than one might think are well aware of the collateral damage of a “work stoppage”...
Matt Frattin figures he is about a month away from resuming skating, which, when considering the climate of the collective bargaining agreement talks, might not be such a bad thing.
The Maple Leafs winger had surgery on his left knee in early June after suffering an injury during the Marlies’ playoff run and has been in rehabilitation at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Frattin moved back to Toronto this week from his summer home to work out at the Leafs’ facility. And though a lockout might mean he could be fully recovered by the time training camp starts, he is not thinking about that. If there is no lockout, camp is slated to start on Sept. 21.
“You never want to be part of (a lockout),” Frattin said. “You look at the people who work in concessions, in ticket sales — those people will be losing their jobs too. It hurts a lot more people than you think.”
• Howard Berger reminded us that, should we expect the Red Wings’ ownership to display any such common sense, or give a flying *#$%@& what their fans think about not being able to surrender huge chunks of discretionary income to watch players skate for the Wings at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit’s voting member of the Board of Governors…
Well, when it comes to hockey acumen, he’s a genius, but when it comes to anything labor-related, my friends, Jimmy Devellano is such an old fogey and a complete and total creep, *#$%@& and prick (all at the same time) that we should place no faith in his desire to settle for anything less than whatever Gary Bettman tells him is best:
This may surprise you, but it didn’t surprise me. Devellano claimed that the Wings voted for a lockout in 2004 as a “good citizen,” and that they’d been promised a move to the Eastern Conference in the event of NHL expansion to 32 teams as a part of the bargain, but the honest truth is that Devellano is just as much of a cheapskate as Bettman’s chief lieutenants in Jeremy Jacobs, Ed Snider and Craig Leipold (who may or may not be truly evil), and whatever Chairman Mao tells the owners they “want,” the acting Governor for a team that stands to get even richer with reduced labor costs will enthusiastically vote to lock the players out.
That’s just the truth.
So what follows is what I would call a necessary level of bluster and foot-putting-down from Donald Fehr, who both spoke to a slate of players gathered for an informational meeting in Chicago and held a conference call with the media, and if you don’t want to read bluster and BS, just take in TSN Aaron Ward’s Tweets and scroll down to the comments section to leave your take and/or promise to see me come Sunday:
On NHLPA conference call, Don Fehr uses term “gulf between us” to describe where they are after both sides have offered proposals.— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) August 17, 2012
Fehr,only players salaries capped.No limit on Coach,GM,etc. salaries.This addressed in proposal,‘non player costs’,need for control.— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) August 17, 2012
Bottom line is NHL wants response to their proposal,NHLPA feels their proposal is proactive,addresses problems as they see it.— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) August 17, 2012
It really is that simple. The NHLPA was hoping that its proposal would at least gouge some holes in the unified front the NHL’s big-market and small-market owners are presenting, but over the span of three or four sentences, Gary Bettman was able to dispel that enthusiasm, cancel the Red Wings’ prospect tournament and all but ensure that, until the NHLPA produces a response to the way Chairman Mao and his Governors “see the world.”
Still with me?
Well, on his conference call, USA Today’s Kevin Allen noted that Fehr neither apologized for his absences from the boardroom, nor his “worldview,” if you will…
“One of the things that differentiates my job from Gary Bettman’s is that I have about 30 times the number of constituents that I have to converse with than he does, so it takes a little more effort,” Fehr said. Fehr said the purposes of his meetings is to answer everyone’s questions, to solicit opinions “and to make sure the players know they are the bosses. My job is to consult and report.”
Earlier this week, Fehr said it seemed as if the NHL was following the playbook that the NBA and NFL used in their last negotiations to achieve significant concessions.
“If the (NBA) had gone to 65% (revenue to players) or eliminated the cap,” Fehr said, “I assure you that NHL owners would not be saying follow the basketball model.”
Fehr says NHL players could easily make the case that the NHL owners should look at the baseball model, which has no salary cap, substantial revenue sharing and rapidly increasing franchise values.
“All threats of lockouts and shutdowns have (come) from the cap sports in the last 15 years,” Fehr said.
The last time the NHL locked out players, the entire 2004-05 season was lost. Players then gave in to a 24% salary reduction and allowed a salary cap for the first time in league history.
“Do players understand what happened last time? And can they compare the offer this time and the result last time and draw their own conclusion?” Fehr said. “The answer is of course they can.”
And in terms of the percentage of revenues, Fehr was adamant that his players already believe that, especially under the new means by which the NHL wants to count Hockey-related revenues, they already earn about 51% thereof, not 57%, as Sportsline’s Adam Gretz noted:
One of the subjects that was discussed at length on Friday was the idea of a 50/50 revenue split that several of the other professional leagues are operating under (the NHL’s current deal is 57/43 in favor of the players). One of the points that Fehr made was that just because other leagues do something doesn’t mean that the NHL has to follow in their footsteps. He also pointed out that with the way hockey related revenue is calculated the NHL deal is (in their view) already close to a 50/50 split. The players proposal from this week would have seen them take a 54/46 split.
“Let me caution you when you start talking about 50/50 splits,” Fehr said. “If you start talking about all revenue as opposed to just hockey related revenue the way we calculate it, the players are already at just about 50/50.
“Hockey related revenue begins by subtracting some amounts of revenue,” added Fehr. “They don’t count. What I’m saying is that if you add those things back in and then take what the players get, we calculate that to be about 51 percent.”
Fehr then turned his attention to the salary cap and added that the only reason the league has the cap it has now is because the owners believe it pays the players less than what they would get in a true free market.
“Suppose the players came in, as we have not done, and said: ‘This is what we want. We’ll have no salary cap, have a minimum salary and benefits, which will be a small fraction of the salary bill, and all the owners can pay whatever it is they want to pay. They can adjust their salaries based on what they think is best for them. Whatever the free market produces, in a real free market, the players will take.’
“That’s the starting point from the players’ analysis,” added Fehr. “But the players are willing to live with that if we can work out an agreement.”
The Sporting News’s Sean Gentile noted that Fehr also very bluntly stated that his side has no desire to “miss games,” and that he believes the consensus generated during the “guts of the CBA” meetings without him are essential going forward:
The league’s plan, essentially, is to put more money in its owners pockets via decreased player salaries. The players want that bump to come from diverting revenue windfalls to the owners—essentially passing on more money themselves—and a transition of funds from wealthier teams to poorer teams—revenue sharing.
The changes to player contracts that the owners’ proposal entailed—10 years before free agency, for example—aren’t palatable to the union, either, Fehr said.
He also continued reinforcing what’s become a tentpole of the union’s public stance: They don’t want to miss games.
“All I can tell you, and all I can tell the fans, is that nobody on the players’ side is talking about stopping the season,” Fehr said.
Bettman has said that the league will not operate past Sept. 15 on the current CBA, though it theoretically could.
On Thursday, subcommittees met to discuss non-economic issues, which Fehr hopes leads to more common ground.
“My impression is that they were workmanlike sessions, the kinds you absolutely have to have,” Fehr said of Thursday’s talks, which he did not attend, rather using the rest of the week to meet with players in Chicago and Kelowna, British Columbia.
I think that we’re going to continue seeing this, “Don and Gary are in the sessions for a few days, territory is marked in BS and urine, and then the two retreat and the two sides begin speaking to each other again” alternation of discussion of the respective sides’ “worldviews” and then discussion of the kinds of issues both sides can agree upon over the next…
However long it takes to hammer out a new CBA.
As Yahoo Sports’ Harrison Mooney notes, at least for now, the players don’t want to “bail out” the owners and reset the economic marketplace more favorably for small and large-market teams alike by salary givebacks alone…
[T]he two sides can’t move on to Step 2 until they can agree on step 1, and Fehr made it clear Friday that the players won’t have it be a reduction in player salaries and contract negotiating power.
The players continue to support the creation of an “industry growth fund”, forgoing a percentage of increased revenues over the next few years and allowing the commissioner’s office to distribute the leftover money where it’s needed. Most have felt that a reduction in the player’s revenue share is inevitable—that it would eventually come down to somewhere near the 50% mark, as it has in other sports. But according to Fehr, the NHLPA believes the player revenue share is already around there.
“Let me caution you when you start talking about 50/50 splits, if you start talking about all revenue, as opposed to hockey revenue, the way we calculate it the players are already at about 50/50.” We don’t see eye-to-eye in all respects in how revenue is to be counted,” he said.
When pressed for an example, Fehr pointed out that the 57% figure fails to take into account the way the cap suppresses the market in which NHLers are negotiating their contracts.
“The normal way we value things in North America and economic arrangements is we have a market value, and we know the players’ aggregate market value is more than 57%. And that’s why we have a salary cap, because the owners didn’t want to pay that much.”
But while the innate economists among us may be fascinated by alternative methods of counting revenue, the real question here is whether or not there’s going to be a lockout.
“Nobody on the players’ side is talking about stopping the season,” said Fehr. “Nobody on the players’s side is saying we have negotiations up to a date and then that’s all. I’ve been in experiences before where we play without a contract under the old rules and you continue negotiating until you find a deal. We certainly hope there isn’t. We certainly don’t think there’s a reason for it.” If [the owners] choose to do it, it’s something that they chose to do.”
Even SI/the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater was impressed by Fehr’s conviction of belief:
“No players would like to miss games, and I think players who were in the lockout the last time are particularly sensitive to that,” Fehr said, adding that all union members recognize what it means when the owners essentially say that the players must take another salary reduction that is even larger than the last one. That time, the NHLPA accepted a salary cap and a 24-percent pay cut. The NHL has had record revenues every year since. Even so, the owners are now also asking the players who held out the last time to give back the gains they made in terms of free-agency mobility.
Some people still see a reason for optimism that a deal will be reached sooner rather than later. Others see just the opposite. But to sum up, the situation is this:
The NHL and its players agree that times are financially better than they’ve ever been. This fact is the main basis for the optimism that, while a lockout may happen and wipe out the first part of the season, it won’t claim the whole schedule. (Because a season has been squandered before, everyone who loves the game easily gets into a state of panic that it will happen again.) How to divvy up the spoils of all that increased revenue ($3.3 billion in 2011-12, compared to $2.2 billion the year after the 2004-05 lockout) is where the big fight will happen. Players currently receive 57-percent of hockey-related revenues (HRR), which means they got $1.89 billion this past season.
The optimists who don’t foresee a long lockout are quick to cite the NBA work stoppage of 2011, with its players eventually agreeing to a 50-50 split of overall revenue. Others are quick to cite a similar arrangement in the NFL, which had its own short lockout that year.
Fehr was waiting for the inevitable questions of “Hey, why can’t you guys just take the same deals as the NBA and NFL did?” and “Why should hockey be any different?” Those are things that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman essentially said when he rejected the NHLPA’s counter-proposal this week. (Of course, the NBA’s revenues are about double the NHL’s, and the NFL’s are about triple).
“Well look, I am sure, from an owner’s standpoint, any number below 57 looks better than 57, and the farther you get below 57 the better it looks,” said Fehr, who mentioned that he will likely talk with Bettman informally this weekend before the official CBA talks resume Wednesday in Toronto. “But the economic systems are different in the various sports. The football (revenue) number is not based on the same revenue definitions, even remotely.”
Fehr essentially dismissed comparisons to the NBA because of the huge difference in revenues (fewer players than the NHL, a much higher average salary even with a 50-50 split) and he couldn’t resist touting the one CBA in American pro sports that seems to work best right now: Major League Baseball’s:
“It has no cap, it does have substantial revenue sharing, it has rapidly increasing franchise values and it’s completely stable from a labor relations standpoint,” he said. “All the threats of lockouts and shutdowns have come from the cap sports in the last 15 years. So I understand why (NHL owners) would say that, but we don’t think that merely because another sport does something, we should do it in hockey any more than because baseball does something we should necessarily do it in hockey.”
If you’re skimming and want a Cliff’s Notes version of the conference call, Pro Hockey Talk’s Jason Brough provides just that:
—- Fehr said the owners proposed “some additional revenue sharing;” however, that revenue-sharing would essentially be paid for with a “very large reduction in players’ salaries.”
—- The players’ proposed the creation of an “industry growth fund” totaling $100 million that would go to teams in financial need.
—- The NHLPA isn’t interested in changing the rules related to contracts. For example, the owners have proposed to change the minimum age that a player can become an unrestricted free agent from 25 years old (after seven years of NHL service) to 28 (after 10 years NHL service).
—- Fehr said it’s misguided to compare the revenue split in other leagues since revenues are calculated differently. For example, the way they calculate revenue in the NFL isn’t “even remotely” comparable to the NHL, according to Fehr.
—- Fehr expects to speak with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman over the weekend, with negotiations set to reconvene next week.
In Chicago, when Fehr spoke to reporters after the close of the PA’s informational meetings, he was no less determined, as noted by ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers...
“It was interested. It was focused. It was sobered,” Fehr said, describing the tone of the meetings. “Players understand what is going on, understand what the issues are and understand how the owners’ proposal will affect them, understand how this compares to what happened seven years ago ... understand that this will affect their lives if we can’t find a way through this in the immediate future.”
The league wants the players to give up a significant amount of salary to stabilize the industry, while the union maintains that goal would be best accomplished with the wealthy teams doing more to help their struggling counterparts.
Fehr is scheduled to resume formal discussions with the league Aug. 22. When those start, the league and the union will have just 24 days left to reach a new agreement and avoid a lockout. The current CBA runs out on Sept. 15—by which time commissioner Gary Bettman wants a deal in place. The regular season is set to start Oct. 11.
The entire 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout and then the players eventually accepted a 24 percent rollback on salaries and a cap. Despite the wide philosophical gap between the two sides, Fehr said there is still time to reach an agreement.
“If there is a mutual will to get this done, if we can find a common platform around which to construct an agreement, then obviously there is plenty of time in which to do that,” he said, adding he’s out of the prediction business. Unfortunately, what you saw in the last two negotiations in football and basketball, and can be argued what happened in hockey in 2004, is that the lockout was the strategy of first choice, not the strategy of last resort. I hope that’s not true this time, but time will tell. Having said that, when Gary says it’s much more preferable to get a deal done before Sept. 15, we agree with him.”
Phoenix Coyotes right wing David Moss said the players are prepared and have discussed all eventualities.
“The league are the ones saying that if we don’t come to a decision. ... The players are still very optimistic and hopeful that things will get done on time, and we’re working in that fashion,” said Moss, who played last season with the Calgary Flames. “The players are preparing (like) there’s going to be a season; they do all the things leading up to that until we’re told otherwise.”
Rogers continues, as does Fehr:
“It took anyone that plays hockey about the time it took to read the [owners’] proposal to understand what it would mean to them,” Fehr said after meetings wrapped up Friday. “Whatever lingering doubts there were that the players were not on the same page ceased to be there.”
The players might be winning the public relations battle with the owners, but it’s not getting them any closer to a deal. The current collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15, and a lockout looms. About the only way a deal could get done from the players’ perspective is if they develop amnesia—they simply need to forget about what they gave the owners in 2004: An entire season was lost, salaries were rolled back and a salary cap was enacted.
“Hockey players have lived through or have teammates and friends who lived through the last lockout,” Fehr explained. “They’ve heard about the owners’ lockout in 1994. They watched on television what happened with the football and the basketball players. ... The last thing the threat or a suggestion of a lockout is, is a surprise to the players. ... They understand how this compares to seven years ago and what the players gave up then.”
And therein lays the crux of the problem. The players feel they gave the owners all that was needed for the long-term health of the league, and now the owners are coming back, asking for just as much, if not more. The players tried their hand at a proposal, which was seemingly dismissed by the league.
“We did not do what a lot of people would characterize as make a proposal which was just way over the top,” Fehr explained.
Fehr was quick to remind everyone the very definition of a “salary cap” limits the money-making ability of his constituents and after giving the owners so much last time around, the players are simply not going to do the same. But the players caved in 2004-05 after a season was lost, so they played hardball for as long as they could. The problem, of course, is the owners can typically hold out without profits from the sport longer than players can hold out without a paycheck. Fehr wouldn’t predict what would happen over the next month, but it’s clear a major change of heart has to happen to avoid a lockout.
“The players are pretty unified, and if there was any doubt about their understanding of this negotiation, that evaporated when we got the owners’ proposal,” Fehr said. “The hope is we’ll find a way through the disparate positions which now exist.”
Perhaps more tellingly, from the AP’s Rick Gano:
“One of the things the players asked me,” Fehr said, “is, ‘Why did we give them what we did the last time if this was going to be the result this time?’
“One of the things which appears to happen in the capped sports, is no matter what the economic circumstances are claimed to be, whether they are claimed to be losses as we had in basketball this last time, or whether there’s an acknowledgment there are no financial problems, as we had in the NFL this last time, it doesn’t matter. The position is, we have a cap and the cap has to be lowered. That seems to be the case.”
And that is the real bottom line here.
If you want me to continue, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns, the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc (twice, with video of Fehr speaking in his second article) and Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers (ditto on the video part; TSN posted two videos of Fehr and then the players speaking—and TSN’s video is fifteen minutes long!), I can…
But after a week of really humanity-sapping stuff in terms of both hockey news that I’ve had to cover and real life crap that’s happened to close friends and family members, I don’t have much more to give ya, and none of it will be positive.
At this point, it does appear to me that there will be a lockout, and that it will be Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors who stage it. I cannot blame the players for not wanting to simply be told that every time a CBA ends, any and all economic problems their employers face can be solved by massive give-backs in player salaries—that’s just ridiculous—and again, as I had no blog last time this happened, I feel an obligation to at least watch it closely and give you the highlights and lowlights.
This “labor dispute” will determine how the Red Wings spend your and my discretionary income, the parameters by which Ken Holland and company will face in terms of not only attempting to address Nicklas Lidstrom’s departure, but also retain the players the Wings draft and develop on their own, and as such, and especially given that I was born in Detroit to a family that’s given over 100 years of service to Chrysler on my mom’s side and an equal amount to Ford on my father’s, I’m not just going to turn away and say, “Who gives a flying *#$%@&? Tell me when they’re back.”
Again, as I am beholden to and responsible to you, I do want to know whether you want me to dial coverage back a wee bit, and what you want me to do in terms of fundraising, especially if training camp is canceled and I instead have to admit to you once again that I don’t have any discretionary income because my illnesses restrict this to being my only job, and that I’d need to have a hand plain old going to Griffins and Walleye games, if not making an appearance or two in Toronto or New York to try and organize a “flash mob”...
But as much as this saps any humanity I have from my bones, and as much as this makes me angry because I am just a biased, emotional fan, and I feel personally wronged by the fact that even Jimmy Devellano wants to *#$%@& you, me and hundreds of Joe Louis Arena’s game-night employees over for the sake of out and out greed, it’s my job to get over it and cover this business as it could possibly affect the Detroit Red Wings, their players and my fellow fans.
So prepare to do a lot of skimming and scrolling down to the comments if you’re not interested in the language of aggression. It will dominate this blog’s coverage until the next CBA is decided.
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About The Malik Report
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.