Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Shaking off some rust

I'm still a few days away from returning, but even from a limited, getting-over-illness and/or-depression standpoint, I took a look around at the comments made over the past 24 hours and fired off some Tweets that someone suggested might be worth repeating.

They're gloom-and-doom-y, but at this point, I've more or less made my peace with my belief that the NHL's 2012-2013 campaign will be the second in eight years and nine seasons to be stamped "Season Not Played" on the Stanley Cup, and I'm the repetition of the, "Look, there's a wedge between Side A and their collective bargaining representative!" line applied to the players last weekend, and the owners this time around, got me annoyed. Enjoy (I think):

So I'll be back sooner than later, and I'm not exactly going to bring a warm and fuzzy demeanor to the equation, but I do think it's time to inject some healthy skepticism for "reports" coming from an NHL media corps that sometimes talks to hear itself think, and sometimes talks to float a particular person or "side's" agenda...

And there is Red Wings-related stuff going on. Regrettably, none of it's happening in Detroit, barring a still-remarkable level of charitable initiatives from the Wings' organization given their inability to tap into the reserve of players still skating in Troy to help them out.

In all honesty, I said this on Twitter and Facebook a few days ago, when the world was much more gloomy, and I'll repeat it here:

This is my third lockout over the past 18 years and second in the past 8. Even if I had been healthy throughout the process, I'm so disgusted by the lockout-as-a-rule course of CBA negotiations--and the immense, immense harm the NHL is doing to the sport by ensuring that it's most passionate, ardent and highest-spending fans become disenchanted with Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and the Board of Governors' way of doing business (and ensuring that the NHL may very well die a literal death as fans and players alike decide that the once-a-decade and twice-a-long-career number of missed games and missed seasons just aren't worth putting up with anymore when there are other good hockey leagues to support and leagues that won't ask its players to open their pockets and "give at the office" repeatedly)--that I've considered walking away from the sport.

I grew up playing soccer, not hockey, and English "football" is at the wacky point the NHL was in the early 90's, where players could still smoke a pack a day, drink heavily, carouse and act like we expect athletes in non-hockey sports to act and still play until at or around the age of 30. It reminds me of the days when players openly popped eight or ten Sudafeds before games and players like Evgeni Davydov could come over and score a 20-goal season sponsored by Marlboro.

Thankfully for hockey fans, between advances in sports medicine, training and the realization that cleaner living (I'm not saying that they're saints, but successful hockey players have to take care of their bodies and keep their off-ice proirities at least in, "This can't be a distraction from my ability to physically and mentally prepare to play tomorrow" check) can yield satisfying and financially successful ventures in which players can find themselves continuing to be paid to play a kid's game into their mid-to-late-30's, if not their 40's in some instances...Hockey is different these days. The guys who still want to be both professional athletes and professional partiers or professional substance abusers don't last very long, and in that sense, there's a real and fiscal disincentive (in a sane and operating NHL, anyway) against the kinds of activities that...Let's say certain AHL players and maybe even Red Wings prospects find themselves dealing with the consequences from.

And personally speaking?

It's hard to walk away from a sport when you have a partisan interest in rooting for a team whose owners, management, coaches on down to the players, support staff and even prospects are, by and large, genuinely good people who you wind up rooting for as human beings as well as members of your favorite sports team upon interacting with them. And in the vast majority of my interactions with the Red Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye organizations, from speaking with Ken Holland, Jim Nill or the ever-intimidating Mike Babcock to interviewing the Nicklas Lidstroms, Hernik Zetterbergs, Jimmy Howards, Thomas McCollums, Petr Mrazeks and Willie Coetzees, I've come to care for the people who represent, wear and aspire to wear the Winged Wheel.

I don't know why Mike and Chris Ilitch and Jimmy Devellano came to the conclusion that supporting Gary Bettman and the owners' lockout was worth it for a third frickin' time, especially given the devastation this lockout's wreaking upon Joe Louis Arena's broadcast and rink-night employees (though the team has ensured that nobody in the front office has lost their job, unlike so many other teams that handed out pink slips or out-and-out fired people for the sake of streamlining business operations) and the restaurants, bars, merchandise-hawking shops and other community businesses that depend on the Wings to survive, I really can't find a reason for the Wings' ownership to justify having chosen to get back on board Bettman and the Board of Governors' crazy train...

But the peole who work for Mr. I, starting from Jimmy D on down to grumpy Al Sobotka and everywhere in between in both Detroit and Grand Rapids are genuinely friendly, approachable, kind and generous with their time, mental and physical energies, and they truly seem to embody the understanding that the, "To Whom Much is Given, Much is Expected" line adorning the locker room exit extends to more than just the incredibly high on-ice standards applied to everyone who works in the organization. It's about the way you conduct yourself off the ice, with fans, even (gasp!) the media and especially the community that matters most, and by and large, everybody who works for Mr. Ilitch in Detroit or the De Vos family in Grand Rapids tries to carry the weight of those expectations.

They are not without foibles and not without faults, and everybody makes mistakes--Riley Sheahan's requires its own entry and discussion, to be sure--but to cut a long story short, while I do not expect to witness NHL hockey being played before preseason games take place in September, 2013, and think that's both a tragedy and travesty (see: this should cost the Chairman his job, for starters, because the Nuclear Commissioner and the Board of Governors are hopelessly out of touch with the fact that they're killing their league from its heart on out) on a league-wide and Red Wings ownership-sponsored level...

The players, coaches and management are the reason I'm tring to weather this shitstorm of depressing news, the league's attempts to turn itself into a pretzel while excusing and explaining away its from-the-start intent to lock the players and fans out for the entire season to nuke the village in order to save it, and I'm willing to come back from a depressive episode on top of two months' of illness to cover this bloody frickin' mess because I love the game and I love the human faces who represent the Red Wings' organization too much to sell my ten pairs of gloves and cluck my tongue at Mario Balotelli instead.

That's it for me for now. See you in a couple of days, and try to keep the faith. This lockout is a bunch of bullshit from a bunch of owners and their nutty commissioner (and deputy commish), sponsored by greed, the belief that a retroactive bailout is required of the "talent" owners will always charge fans supply-and-demand as opposed to payroll-based admission prices to watch play, and a sort of, "I can fix my mistakes" crusade by the last CBA's true author, Bill Daly, and it's baffling that any sane group of entertainment providers would assent to splitting up 43% of nothing as opposed to 43% of $3.3 billion because that's "more fair"...

But while your faith in the NHL and even the Red Wings might be just as disturbingly shaky as mine, I can at least assure you that the Wings' management, coaches, players and prospects are worth hanging on and weathering this stupid, unnecessary storm to cheer for, not only because they're pretty spectacular at hockey, but also, and mostly, because they're pretty spectacular people.

It's too bad that the owners and the league have chosen to make it so very hard for us to cheer them on, and so very hard for those of us who feel like the "payoff" of spending so much of our time, energy, emotional effort and especially our money is that the Red Wings allow us to be a part of a bigger community of like-minded fans (at a time when our country couldn't be more splintered and almost disgustingly divided in everything but a unifiyng sense of acerbic, acidic disdain for everyone who doesn't totally agree with us, as our election cycle bore out [and kinda embittered me, big time])  to participate in the community that sustains us and (usually) helps us get through our difficult days.

If there is any hope and any good in any of this, it's that the "suckers" aren't being proved hypocrites, and that no amount of bad news can serve as a gag order. We may not always agree about who's to blame in a lockout game where "50 shades of blame" doesn't begin to describe the nuances of the stupidity taking place, but hockey fans are a tough and resilient bunch, and even a full-season lockout won't shut us up.

Thankfully, for Wings fans, anyway, we've got people worth believing in and cheering for. And we've got each other, though that isn't much comfort when the desire to watch the best hockey players in the world play against each other involves booking a European trip.

See you in a couple of days. And keep the faith, even if it's flopping in the wind like a tattered and torn flag, like mine.

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Comments

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A question:

If the NHL had forced the NHLPA into the same deal they are offering now back in 2005, would your opinion of the NHL be any different?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/17/12 at 07:33 PM ET

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Second question:

What is the ‘crippling’ part of the NHL’s offer(s) with regards to player mobility?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/17/12 at 07:36 PM ET

joedaiceman's avatar

George - hope you are back soon on a full time basis.KK is not the same without you. Having said that - I’ll never get your anti-owner bias but what the hell.

Posted by joedaiceman on 11/17/12 at 10:27 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

HockeyinHD ...

#1 Bettman is demanding UFA status move up to age 28 (from 27) or 8 years service to the league (up from 7 yrs.).

#2 Bettman wants to tack on an extra year to the entry level contract from 3 to 4 years.

#3 Bettman wants to limit contract length to 5 years maximun.

That all but cripples a players mobility because, if a player signs a 4 year entry level contract at 18 and hits the NHL at 22, he’s not eligible for UFA status until he’s 30.  Granted, thats about the time a goalie hits his prime, but for forwards, they’d be well into their prime years and lucky to have 4 or 5 years left to their career.

Not only does that limit the players choice of where to go, it may also limit how much money he’d be offered.  If a player signs a 5 year deal as a UFA it may be his last. Doing the math, a players career may end at age 35 whether he likes it or not.

How any of that would make a team like Phoenix or Florida more likely to turn a profit is beyond me.

Bettman (and some owners) are nit-picking ... making up excuses to drag out negotiations hoping the players will fold and give in to taking less than a 50/50 split.

Shame on them.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 11/18/12 at 12:53 AM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

Great to hear from you again George.We miss you loads here.

Hope you recovery is progressing in the right direction. Mine is going well with my shoulder. Just had my last physical therapy appointment the other day and will see the surgeon just after Thanksgiving.  Hopefully I will get back to full duty and back to playing this wonderful game we all love when my next season starts in January.
What a shitty fall it has been with the lockout, theTigers being swept, and me not able to go up to Michigan for the deer hunt with the uncles and cousins.  Well there is always next year.

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 11/18/12 at 01:19 AM ET

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#1 Bettman is demanding UFA status move up to age 28 (from 27) or 8 years service to the league (up from 7 yrs.).

#2 Bettman wants to tack on an extra year to the entry level contract from 3 to 4 years.

#3 Bettman wants to limit contract length to 5 years maximun.

So he wants to change FA marks by a year, and that is ‘crippling’?  Come on.

That all but cripples a players mobility because, if a player signs a 4 year entry level contract at 18 and hits the NHL at 22, he’s not eligible for UFA status until he’s 30.

Wait, what?  I thought players were eligible for UFA status at 28 in the NHL’s proposal.  IIRC the term used is ‘or’, not ‘and’... as in, 28 years old ‘or’ 8 years of service.  That would mean a guy who came up at 20 would be a full UFA at 28, or a guy who came up at 24 would be a full UFA at 28, or a guy who came up at 18 would be a full RFA at 26.

Seems like the proper trajectory for a player with an agent who isn’t a vegetable would be to make sure the last RFA deal expires 1 to 2 years prior to UFA status to maximize their players leverage in their final RFA negotiation.

So, player enters the league at 20 and can anticipate 8 years with the same club.  Signs one RFA deal at max length.  Signs second RFA deal to take him to 26.  At that point he can simply take a two year arbitrator award to go to his actual UFA date.

Or, if an RFA gets a great offer from his club after signing his first RFA deal and signs a 5 year second RFA deal that eats into his first couple UFA years, he’d still be able to sign a 3 year UFA deal from 30-33 and then ‘cash out’ with a five year from 33-38.

Seems pretty easy to me.  1 year doesn’t make a big difference.

Not only does that limit the players choice of where to go, it may also limit how much money he’d be offered.  If a player signs a 5 year deal as a UFA it may be his last. Doing the math, a players career may end at age 35 whether he likes it or not.

Again, the ‘solution’ to that from a players perspective seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?  As I’ve already described a guy actually hits UFA at 28, not 30.  So, when you hit UFA at 28 you could sign a a max 5 year to take you to 33 and a second max 5 year to take you to 38.

And looking at the slightly bigger picture, limiting contract length actually provides greater opportunity for movement rather than less, strictly speaking.  With the average length of contract overall dropping quite a bit there will be more FAs available in each year and more guys with fewer years remaining on existing deals.  Guys who will be less difficult to move (like, say, for upcoming UFA RFA’s who are working on an arbitrator’s number).

How any of that would make a team like Phoenix or Florida more likely to turn a profit is beyond me.

Well, the theory is that by a) limiting the total length of a contract and b) pushing back the date of UFA status a smidge, teams will have more time to make final decisions on which guys they want to keep and which guys they want to let loose.  I don’t think this sort of thing is actually pointed at helping out a Phoenix or a Florida per se because they aren’t going to be keeping a majority of their best drafted players anyway.

But it won’t hurt.

Bettman (and some owners) are nit-picking ... making up excuses to drag out negotiations hoping the players will fold and give in to taking less than a 50/50 split.

How do you figure?  Wasn’t the last offer a 50-50+ split, in favor of the players?  The NHL gave all the teams in the league a waiver on the 50-50 in year 1, but by year two the 50-50 split was a hard number.  That means that over the course of the 6(7) year deal the NHLPA would get 50% of HRR each year plus the ‘overage’ in year 1.

Now, granted, according to ‘reports’ some owners were pissed about Bettman going up to 50-50.  I have no idea if that is true.  I do suspect that if the NHL loses a whole year the NHLPA is going to either end up signing a deal which is worse than 50-50 for them, or watching replacement players skate in their jerseys when 2013-14 opens.

As an aside, the codicil of the NHL’s offer which really ought to be annoying Wings fans is the one that sticks a team with the AAV of any contract over 5 years regardless of whether the guy is playing or not, and reverts back to the original team even if the contract is subsequently traded.  That means even if the Wings traded a 35-37 year old Franzen or Z, if either retired prior to the end of their deal their AAV would snap back onto Detroit’s books until the actual deal expired.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/18/12 at 06:37 AM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

ya .. you could be right about the 28 or 8 yrs thing .. i gotta double check that one.

either way ... Bettman getting all huffy over this crap is just plain stupid.  Players offered 50/50 ... owners should take the money & run. Everything else is just petty crap.

The real issue is how the owners share revenue.  Fixing that will make the “poorer” teams healthy before any of the other issues will ... but we all know that won’t happen.

The league is in too many warm weather markets that will never properly support a team.  Forget about revenue sharing ... contraction is the only smart answer and I’m not the only one saying it.  It’ll be a bitter pill for the evil troll to swallow, but the league has to downsize for its own good.  Before you know it, they’ll be back down to 24 teams.  Somebody should make the move back to Quebec before its too late .. LOL

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 11/18/12 at 07:35 AM ET

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Players offered 50/50 ... owners should take the money & run.

But the players did not offer 50-50.  What they’ve offered in a variety of forms was to take the same amount of revenue they took last year ($1.8ish B) into the indefinite future until the total revenue caught up.

Regardless of what the actual amount of HRR was, as long as it was no less than 50%.

So if HRR was flat or, God help us, went down… the NHLPA would still get the $1.8ish B even if that meant they wnded up with 60+% of HRR.

That is the accounting game the NHLPA is playing.  They’re saying “we’ll take 50-50… as long as by ‘taking 50-50’ you mean just waiting until league revenues grow to the point where what we’re already making is 50% of it”.

The accounting game the NHL is playing includes what gets called HRR, among some other things.

Both sides are playing chicken, with the added bonus of the owners really not being too overwrought with whether there’s NHL hockey this year or not.

The league is in too many warm weather markets that will never properly support a team.  Forget about revenue sharing ... contraction is the only smart answer and I’m not the only one saying it.

I agree being in stupid markets is a mistake.  I disagree that contraction is the answer.  In order to contract a team, you have to buy that guy out.  Nowadays the only way an NHL owner can make it is if he’s got a hand in with events held at the arena beyond just the hockey games.

So, in order to buy out, say, 4 teams… you’re talking about 200 mil per team.  At least. 

Who comes up with nearly a billion dollars?

 

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/18/12 at 11:25 AM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

HockeyinHD what is it about you defeding the NHL the diehard-way?
I just don’t get it, are you a shareholder or something?

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 11/18/12 at 02:46 PM ET

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HockeyinHD what is it about you defeding the NHL the diehard-way?

I think they are mostly, but not completely, right with regards to this specific negotiation.

There are other issues (some might even say ‘many’) where I think the NHL has its head up its ass.

Mostly, I just don’t allow personal animus (like what I have for Bettman) or tribal self-identification (like what many fans have with the players) to determine my opinion about an issue.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/18/12 at 04:23 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

The way the players want to get to 50/50 insures contracts already signed are actually honored.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been screwed out of money promised to you before but I have.

Years ago, very early in my radio career, I was promised an on air spot at a station in Gaylord. Drove up there a couple of weeks before I was to start for a little tour of the facilities etc..  Got a phone call a week later saying half the staff was cut including me.  Job gone ... pulled right out from under me.  Talk about pissed ... pfffff.

In that situation there was no contract signed, just a verbal agreement.  The players get legal documents on top of a handshake etc.  Whatever the wording is in the last CBA about contracts is, it doesn’t count.  The league has to honor those contracts because the last CBA has expired.  Now, if there is something written into the contract that salary has to adhere to whatever new CBA is signed, then thats a horse of a different color.

As I understand it, the NHL is trying to take money away based on wording in a now expired CBA.  That doesn’t fly.

Arguing over what HRR actually is and who gets how much will never end.  They’re trying to include ticket revenue, concessions, parking.  That stuff should go to the owner of the building and then be split up evenly amongst the other teams via the owners and revenue sharing.  It should NOT be a player or CBA matter.

Bettman has fuched things up in so many different ways its impossible to keep track of it all.  Both him and Daly need to go away so this thing can get settled.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 11/18/12 at 04:23 PM ET

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The way the players want to get to 50/50 insures contracts already signed are actually honored.

... and those very same contracts also have a clause that says future CBAs can modify them.  That portion of the contract is no more or less relevant or worthy of being honored than the ones that say how much a player makes.

This is why I think ‘honoring the old contracts’ is a red herring.  The contracts themselves allow for the contracts to be modified and every player in the NHL agreed to that possibility when they signed the SPC in the first place.

This is about constructing a rationale from which the PA can ask for more than 50% of HRR and win the PR portion of that debate.

As I understand it, the NHL is trying to take money away based on wording in a now expired CBA.  That doesn’t fly.

Nope.  It’s the actual language in the actual SPCs each player in the NHL signs and agrees to in its entirety.

Also, it’s just common sense.  You can’t have the language in a SPC override the language of a CBA.  That would never work.  The SPC has to be the serviant contract or else it would be madness.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/18/12 at 06:36 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/18/12 at 05:36 PM ET

It says a future CBA can modify them. It doesn’t say it will.
Contracts say a lot of things, but it’s common sense to stay true to the promises made by each side.  Real men don’t try to get out of signed contracts. Lawyers do, that’s why they ruin the world and the NHL..

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 11/18/12 at 10:11 PM ET

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It says a future CBA can modify them. It doesn’t say it will.
Contracts say a lot of things, but it’s common sense to stay true to the promises made by each side.

That’s certainly one opinion.  Given that players hold out and demand trades, however, I’m not exactly sure how that opinion applies to one side more than another in this instance.

That aside, having a subsequent CBA modify the terms of existing SPCs isn’t ‘getting out of a contract’ when the provision which allows CBAs to modify SPCs is right there in the contract in the first place.

That clause is every bit as relevant and right to enforce as the ones that determine contract length and amount.  This is why ‘honoring the contracts’ is a red herring issue.  If we were really talking about ‘honoring the contracts’, if that was the actual point, then nobody should have a problem with future CBAs changing them.

That’s not the issue, though.  The issue is whether the phrases ‘honor the old contracts’ or ‘make whole’ are viable PR weapons which could engender support for the players position and lean whatever weight public sentiment might provide in favor of the players, to whatever positive impact that might provide on the negotiation process for the NHLPA.

And setting aside all of that junk for a moment, it’s not like any player in the NHL is likely to get the actual face value of their contracts anyway.  The Escrow process moderates the amounts players receive in total so that it doesn’t exceed their legislated portion of HRR. 

Which makes the whole notion of ‘honoring the old contracts’ and ‘make whole’ a double red herring, really.  If the NHL signed a deal tomorrow at 57% I’d bet every player in the league would still have to give back at least a couple percentage points of their contracts after Escrow is figured.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/19/12 at 07:24 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

HD…

First, your arguments consistently ignore what the “baseline” really is. Concessions are not defined against a moving target, they are defined against the previous standard, which was the last CBA. All concessions in any NHL offer have come from the PA. The PA, on the other hand, in all of its offers, has actually included concessions of its own.

Now, it it is fair for you to question the real impact of these concessions—certainly I agree with you that both sides are using accounting tricks that we don’t know the details to as a way to make their offers look better than they likely really are to the public.

Regardless, the bottom line here is that you have a league asking for X, Y, and Z, but they aren’t willing to concede anything from their side. That is not a negotiation, that’s just a power play. And the NHL is within its rights doing it… it’s just beyond me how anyone can look at this and think in any honest way that the blame for a lack of a hockey season is shared equally by the players.

Second, the “make whole” issue isn’t a red herring if it is meaningful to the players. In fact, the very point that existing SPCs CAN be modified/superseded by a new CBA—and acknowledging, as above, that the recently expired CBA is the baseline with which we measure any changes—is exactly the reason this isn’t a red herring. It is a legitimate ask. This is the main concession the players want from the league in exchange for signing away percentages of HRR for the medium- and long-term. Really, by all accounts, the players are giving the owners a very easy out with this.

Now, if sometime in the future the public becomes privy to new information that shows the PA never intended to give way on a 50-50 split if some owner-funded “make whole” provision was legitimately put on the table, then you will have been right. But with the information we have now, the “make whole” is a legitimate ask by the players in the negotiation, not just a smoke screen. Unless, you know, you have inside information all the most trusted sources in hockey reporting don’t have.

Third, can we just look back on the recent history of this commissioner and ownership group? Consider the old saying, “Fool me once…”

This is the third time this has happened. The last time, the owners got everything they wanted. They’ve realized that they kinda sorta made some mistakes in that CBA they hand-crafted, and now they want changes. This is not an unfair position on the surface. But again, they are going back to the same well of locking out the players, going with the power play instead of the true negotiation.

I will grant that the last CBA involved such massive changes that it would be naive to think that all shortcomings (from a league POV) should’ve been expected and the league should have to live with them. Heck no. I would venture that even many of the players are really irritated by some of the so-called loopholes in the old agreement. It is right to want to adjust this thing and fix some problems.

What’s wrong is that the league has shown almost no signs of negotiating in good faith. Where’s the give back? They just want to ask for X, Y, and Z, and offer nothing (or crap—like their version of the “make whole” that was player funded) in return.

I’d have thought that before negotiations even started in earnest, the league office and the owners would’ve known Don Fehr was a proper sports union leader, and that this crap wouldn’t fly again. I would’ve thought they would’ve looked at the previous CBA as, in its essence, very close to what they truly need, with tweaks required, not massive player givebacks and sacrifice. It feels like they instead approached this negotiation the same way they did the last one—as if the union is still a neutered, weak, ineffectual body, splintered into various factions with no relevant leadership, to where the league could just hammer it into submission again.

The game needs a strong union. It also needs strong ownership. Both sides need to put each other in check, once in a while. If the PA doesn’t stay strong and organized this time around, I think it will be horrible for the game. If it allows the owners to win their power play yet again, what will they have left? If that happens, then we do ultimately end up in a 1994-‘95 baseball-esque situation, where quite literally the only card the PA would ever have to play to restore some balance of power would be to strike during the middle of an otherwise successful season, in the middle of an ongoing CBA. I don’t think anyone wants that, I sure don’t.

I’m okay with moving to or near a 50-50 split. But I also think it is critical both sides get some real wins out of this negotiation. We need the owners to know they can’t keep going back to this well every time they make mistakes, and we need the players to feel that they were partners so they don’t have future inclination to strike.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 11/19/12 at 09:25 AM ET

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First, your arguments consistently ignore what the “baseline” really is.

There is no baseline.  It’s not a question of ignoring it, it’s a question of understanding it doesn’t exist.

Just because a UFA made 5 mil a year in his last deal doesn’t mean his next one should be indexed off of that amount.  He might want it to be (at least as long as that indexing benefits his interests), but it’s really not.

He could be a less desirable player, or a more desirable player, there could be more guys who play his position available, or less.  The cap could be higher or lower.  His age could make a long-term deal less attractive, or more attractive.

There are all sorts of things which impact at what price an asset will be secured at the player/team level… and a whole lot of those same things impact what works at the Macro level as well.  Scarcity, profit, ability, market, etc.

Regardless, the bottom line here is that you have a league asking for X, Y, and Z, but they aren’t willing to concede anything from their side.

That’s because you define concession from a historical perspective rather than a current one.  From your perspective, since it used to be 57-43 any offer that less than 57 and more than 43 means the owners need to give up something of equal weight in order for it to be a ‘fair negotiation’.

My position is that a concession is any time you start out asking for x and then go to asking for x - y.

Here’s another example.  10 years ago you bought a house for 200 grand.  Today you are trying to sell the house but the best offer you get is 150 grand.  You counter with 190, the prospective buyer counters with 175.

Did the prospective buyer make a concession when they went to 175?

Second, the “make whole” issue isn’t a red herring if it is meaningful to the players.

“A red herring is a clue which is intentionally or unintentionally misleading or distracting from the actual issue.”

‘Make whole’ is a red herring because the issue isn’t honoring the old deals.  If it was, since the old deals allow them to be modified by future CBAs there wouldn’t be any complaints about the old deals being modified.  It’s right there in these old deals which apparently have to be honored.

The actual issue is that the NHLPA wants to say they will take a 50-50 HRR split when in reality they would get rather more than 50-50, and most likely more than 50-50 for almost the entire term of the new CBA.  ‘Make whole’ is a packaging/PR gambit in which they can claim to agree to a 50-50 split when the reality is they want more than that.

So yes, I agree that ‘make whole’ is a significant issue because it has value to the players.  My point is that the issue that has value isn’t really ‘make whole’, it’s ‘more money’.

Third, can we just look back on the recent history of this commissioner and ownership group?

Totally agree here.  I think there’s barely a 70-30 chance whatever the NHL does here ends up solving the ‘problems’.  I have almost no confidence in the ability of either Bettman or the NHL in general or the owners collectively to put together a document that they won’t find a way to completely screw up in some unforeseen (to them) but terribly damaging way.

That said, 57% is way, way too much HRR to spend on players in a gate driven league. If the NHL is ever even going to get on the track to financial stability as a league, that’s got to be 50-50.  That’s got to be without these stupid 12+ year deals.

’m okay with moving to or near a 50-50 split. But I also think it is critical both sides get some real wins out of this negotiation. We need the owners to know they can’t keep going back to this well every time they make mistakes, and we need the players to feel that they were partners so they don’t have future inclination to strike.

What you’re talking about is a point of ‘equilibrium of risk’, where the owners have as much to lose from a stoppage of work as the players do.  That’s when you have prolonged periods of labor peace.  Neither side feels what they could gain from a stoppage is greater than what they will lose from a labor stoppage.

The problem is, you have to have two sides that are able to properly comprehend what they have and what is at stake in order for equilibrium to be reached.

In this specific situation, I don’t think the NHLPA has that kind of comprehension.  I think they’ve allowed this to get very personal and their ability to look at these issues dispassionately has been compromised.  If they would have settled at 50-50 before the first game was missed they’d make more over a 6(7) year deal than they would if they miss a whole year but end up getting the old CBA re-instated in its entirety.

Does that suck from their perspective?  You bet.  Is it still the right financial decision to make?  Absolutely.

Until the financials get to the point where the Owners fear losing a season as much as players should, and until players realize how much they should fear losing a season, we’re going to have these lockouts each and every time a CBA expires.

Until that point the owners have more to gain from a lockout than they stand to lose, and players don’t understand how much they have to lose and how little they have to gain.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/19/12 at 12:59 PM ET

Salty's avatar

Not enough hockey, too much master debating.  (Not the blog, the comments.)

You guys take sides all you want.  I got a 4 year old that still cries when I have to answer “no, hockey still isn’t back, yes I know I told you it comes every October but they made a liar out of me.”  Therefore they can all get fuched and I don’t really care who’s being more “fair” as none of this is fair to any of the fans.  You know, the folks who make all this possible for all of them.  Count me in the “not another dollar outta me” camp.

Posted by Salty on 11/19/12 at 03:40 PM ET

Avatar

You guys take sides all you want.  I got a 4 year old that still cries when I have to answer “no, hockey still isn’t back, yes I know I told you it comes every October but they made a liar out of me.” 

Take the kid to a Whalers game or a Michigan game or a Spartans game or a high school game or a Griffins game.

Any of probably at least a dozen different hockey teams, of which if you’re anywhere in Metro Detroit it is almost impossible to be more than an hour away from all of them.

He’s 4 bleeping years old.

Think outside the box for a minute before delving into Spanish-language soap opera levels of melancholy, ferchrissakes.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/19/12 at 04:08 PM ET

Salty's avatar

I took him to the local junior team already, I don’t live in Detroit Señor Presumptuous.  We used to watch the games on TV.  The kid is in love with Pavel and the Red Wings.  You go ahead and tell him something else is good enough.  Hope you don’t have kids, and I haven’t got much else to say to somebody who thinks he can talk to me like one.

Posted by Salty on 11/19/12 at 09:49 PM ET

Avatar

took him to the local junior team already, I don’t live in Detroit Señor Presumptuous. 

“Any of probably at least a dozen different hockey teams, of which if you’re anywhere in Metro Detroit...”

If.  Not since.  If.

Hope you don’t have kids, and I haven’t got much else to say to somebody who thinks he can talk to me like one.

I’m not talking to you like a child, I’m talking to you as a person who paints the Sally Struthers-esque melancholia of a crying 4 year old with broad, silly strokes.

And if your kid really actually cares about the NHL as you suggest and nothing else will ever replace that hole in his life you’re talking about, you’ll be back with bells on, Salty.

Large, jingling, chrome-plated bells.  You may even skip a couple times on your way to the stadium.  Day 1, game 1, period 1, cheering like a maniac the moment the teams line up to take the opening faceoff.  You’re not going to make your 4 year old cry and miss hockey just because you have some stupid axe to grind with people who don’t give a bleep what you think.

Or, you know, mayyyyyyybe the absence of NHL hockey wasn’t quite as big of a deal as you were making it out to be.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/20/12 at 07:20 AM 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.