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Wildly amusing: Dater ‘illustrates’ lack of sympathy for owners in CBA negotiations

Strange times, folks, these are strange times. The Hockey News’s Adam Proteau tried very hard to explain to fans that the NHLPA’s members have every right to battle for their slice of the revenue pie, but in adding too many “they’re like movie stars and we don’t get angry at them for being paid what they pay” references, his article came off sounding too similar to the, “Here’s an analogy, fans, now buy my line.” So who makes the NHLPA seem like a sympathetic organization during a summer where the players have yet to suggest that Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and outside counsel Bill Batterman are being anything less than civil and polite?

The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater, in offering a simple set of quotes from someone who took his revenue-sharing and made a $198 million advance to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter at the expense of some of the teams will wind up subsidizing Parise and Suter’s salaries:

If I’m Donald Fehr, I have the easiest job in the world. Seriously, the new boss of the NHL Players Association has the league dead to rights if—and we know it will probably happen—team owners start pleading poverty at the ongoing collective bargaining talks. If I’m Fehr, all I do is come in with a few press clippings in my soft leather briefcase. Here’s one:

“We’re not making money, and that’s one reason we need to fix our system. We need to fix how much we’re spending right now. [The Wild’s] revenues are fine. We’re down a little bit in attendance, but we’re up in sponsorships, we’re up in TV revenue. And so the revenue that we’re generating is not the issue as much as our expenses. And [the Wild’s] biggest expense by far is player salaries.”

That’s what Wild owner Craig Leipold told Minneapolis Star-Tribune beat writer Michael Russo in April. Fewer than three months later, Leipold signed two players—Zach Parise and Ryan Suter—to contracts that total a combined $196 million and 26 years.

If I’m Fehr, this is all I say to Leipold or whoever does the talking for him (i.e. Commissioner Gary Bettman): “So you say the Wild’s revenues are fine, but you can’t afford these big player salaries.” Then I hold up that press clipping from April, and this one, which contains another quote, also from Leipold to Russo:

“AHHHHHHHHH!!! I am a madman. Oy, oy, oy. It’s hard to come to grips with (this). It was such a fun, great process. I can’t tell you, (GM) Chuck (Fletcher), (assistant GM) Brent Flahr, both those guys, had a very aggressive plan, thought that it was possible, thought that we could do it.

“This wasn’t a knee-jerk kind of thing. It was discussed as a possibility months and months ago and going back to last season, some of the moves we made last season were in preparation for this. We were hoping they’d become free agents. That’s how they think. They think long-term. This is a result of a very smart hockey ops department thinking long-term. A lot of people made this thing work. A lot of luck had to happen. Good things fell in our favor. And before we knew it, Monday night, my God, maybe we could get both. And it just started moving in that direction.”

I’d simply put those statements on the table, get up, walk out and let Bettman and Co. squirm.

Continued, but that paints a fine picture given the fact that Craig Leipold headed to Toronto to cry poor today, doesn’t it?


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awould's avatar

The CBA mostly needs to be tinkered with because the 30 owners don’t trust each other or themselves to not exploit every loophole. Please, save us from ourselves!

I’m pretty sure the impact, of any changes, on the players is incidental to the owners. Any benefit or harm to the players is purely collateral in nature.

Posted by awould on 07/13/12 at 07:42 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

It a classic “chicken or the egg” scenario.

Do the owners deserve a larger portion of revenues because they pony up all of the money (taking all of the financial risk) and create the jobs that provide the players with their livelyhood?

Or do the players, who are not only employees but the product as well, deserve the bigger share because they alone create the revenue that, ideally, keeps these teams in business and the owners well compensated for their investment?

The problem with that scenario is that this is not a normal business structure.  To the owners, this is not their “business.”  It is merely an investment that the earnings from their true enterprise has allowed them to make.

Some have invested to make a small profit.  Some are only looking for a “toy” to play with, and maybe use as a tax write-off.  A few have even bought in because they love the game, and wanted to be a part of it.  But none, not even the multi-investor groups, get into owning a sports franchise looking to make their fortune.  And for this reason, any request or hardline from the players and their union rings completely hollow to the 30 owners and their partners.  Its the single reason why lockouts have occured, and a very good reason why we might be looking at another one looming on the horizon.

To an owner losing 20-30 million a season, or even eeking out a couple mil in profit, a lockout is nothing to cringe at, especially if in doing so “promises” to bring your investment sustainable long term profit.  And if the lockout finally crushes the league?  To hell with it, walk away, declare bankruptcy and move on to the next shiny thing.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 07/13/12 at 10:25 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

A guy ahead of me in a deli yesterday ordered a chicken salad sandwich, and an egg salad sandwich.  I said, “You must be hungry!”  And he said, ” No, I just want to see which comes first. “

Posted by RWBill on 07/14/12 at 10:12 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.


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