MAKE A DEAL: THE SILENT MAJORITY?

Robin Brownlee
December 06 2012 09:26PM

With all the optimism coming out of negotiations in New York Wednesday, fans riding the roller-coaster they've been on during the NHL lockout felt they might actually get to watch a game this season.

That latest bit of positivity about the possibility of a new CBA lasted, what, about 24 hours until the whole damn thing came off the rails again today with Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman back at the controls?

Fans, it goes without saying, aren't impressed. Understandably so. And, if you believe reports trickling out in the aftermath of the upside-down-and-on-fire bit we just witnessed, neither are some members of the NHLPA.

If the players were as optimistic as many fans, and if a significant percentage of the NHLPA membership was ready to get back to work -- as one might conclude by sifting through the Twitterverse -- I'm wondering if we might soon see cracks in the unified front Fehr is trying to portray. I'm guessing yes.

READY TO PLAY?

These tweets from veteran Denver Post reporter Adrian Dater:

adater?@adater

From deep inside players side: "We were ready to play again. But Don came in (Wed.) and told us we could get more and to hold out"

adater?@adater

That deep-inside-players quote came from depth player. They want to play, but top players still in Fehr camp. Could explode soon

adater?@adater

That depth player was not on the Avalanche, FYI. That's all I have on this

adater?@adater

Fehr did not hold a player-wide conference call in saying that, important to note. Came from top down, trickle-down

adater?@adater

Bottom line here: Players say they are unified, but not what I'm hearing from this depth player. They'll deny that publicly, but...

adater?@adater

....privately, they are feeling powerless as the Ryan Millers and Brad Richards of the world pretend this is a sacrifice for them

adater?@adater

This depth player is wicked smart though. May put his name to comments soon. Sorry for anonymous tilt to this. not my style

THE LITTLE GUYS

I'm not suggesting that Dater speaking to one player represents the stance of the majority of NHLPA members – it might, but we have no way of knowing for sure -- but I'm willing to bet the sentiment Dater passes along is growing, and likely by the minute.

How long until we see the unified front Fehr portrays start to crumble? How long until more players let their feelings be known? Specifically, the majority of NHLPA members, the players not named Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin who occupy the bottom 15 spots on NHL rosters.

Simple math tells us there's a lot more of those players than the marquee guys acting as window dressing alongside Fehr and, for now, driving the bus. Framed that way, I take back what I just said about there not being a way for us to know for sure what the players think. There is, of course.

It's called a vote.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 mayorpoop
December 07 2012, 12:52PM
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@DSF

Bettamn could have very well had (despite his instance of no) pre scripted date for actual bargaining. i read your original post. i understand your point.

you think strategically Fehr has undermined Bettman when i gather all has done is pushed too far and infuriated the owners.

i get it that the owners are not all that sharp sometimes and make some poor decisions. regardless, they make enough good decisions to make themselves very very wealthy. good for the players for being united but be aware of the angry boss who pays your wage. he'll only be made a fool so many times. i think the line has been crossed.

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#102 DSF
December 07 2012, 12:54PM
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mayorpoop wrote:

Bettamn could have very well had (despite his instance of no) pre scripted date for actual bargaining. i read your original post. i understand your point.

you think strategically Fehr has undermined Bettman when i gather all has done is pushed too far and infuriated the owners.

i get it that the owners are not all that sharp sometimes and make some poor decisions. regardless, they make enough good decisions to make themselves very very wealthy. good for the players for being united but be aware of the angry boss who pays your wage. he'll only be made a fool so many times. i think the line has been crossed.

If the line has been crossed, Bettman will cancel another whack of games today.

We wait.

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#103 RomRox
December 07 2012, 12:58PM
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@DSF

I can appreciate the players are the product.

And I also agree with you the owners should sleep in the bed they made so to speak.

But would you rather have teams fold because they can't make money?

My personal view is that the players dont see this. I say let the teams fold and i think only then, the players will realize the owners can still operate under the former CBA.

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#104 Archaeologuy
December 07 2012, 12:59PM
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DSF wrote:

If the line has been crossed, Bettman will cancel another whack of games today.

We wait.

I wouldnt be surprised to see another attempt at bargaining over the weekend or early next before the NHL is forced to cancel more games.

*Maybe* cooler heads will prevail.

Personally, I think the line was crossed from the owners' perspective already when the PA barely responded to the added ~100M that was put on the table.

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#105 dougtheslug
December 07 2012, 01:04PM
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@DSF

We have had our conflicts in the past, DSF, but today, I am in awe. I agree with every word you've written, just wish I had the time to add my two cents. But you don't need my help.Keep fighting the good fight,

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#106 roger
December 07 2012, 01:05PM
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i get a kick out of all the bitching back and forth on this boards, it's easy to see why the nhl and the nhlpa cannot figure things out if they carry on like some do on here nothing will get solved. it is abvious the art of compromise is lost in this arguement, i know that is a symplification but i do not pretend to have a command of all facets the two parties are dealing with. that being said i did look up scott ferguson who used to play d for the oil. through the magic of the online internet i came up with a approximation of what he made in the four years he was with the oil approx 3.5 million. now disconnect yourself from what we know these players make and apply that to your own salary, this is an astronomical amount of money to get paid over four years. there is no reason why these players cannot take less weather it is salary term or what ever. a person would have to be wholly irresponsible to waste that small fortune.

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#107 BucHussey
December 07 2012, 01:06PM
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I was wondering why they can't drop to 50-50 and still pay the players there agreed upon contracts. If a team can only play 16 players in there line up to fit under the cap then play 16 players.

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#108 DSF
December 07 2012, 01:08PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I wouldnt be surprised to see another attempt at bargaining over the weekend or early next before the NHL is forced to cancel more games.

*Maybe* cooler heads will prevail.

Personally, I think the line was crossed from the owners' perspective already when the PA barely responded to the added ~100M that was put on the table.

I expect you're right.

Fehr got Bettman off his script but Bettman is now under intense pressure to save what remains of a season.

I've read Fehr's drop dead date could be January 15th but I would think Bettman's could be sooner than that.

Fehr's strategy of barely responding to the new make whole offer was either brilliant or it could backfire but I expect the former is true.

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#109 Archaeologuy
December 07 2012, 01:09PM
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@BucHussey

Or just drop to 50/50 and let escrow take care of the rest because the players agreed to contracts that are subject to the CBA.

No "Make Whole" necessary. There is no Rollback, Contracts are still whole under next CBA.

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#110 The Beaker
December 07 2012, 01:10PM
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I still dont get arguing for either side. Both a yahoos.

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#111 The Beaker
December 07 2012, 01:11PM
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RomRox wrote:

I can appreciate the players are the product.

And I also agree with you the owners should sleep in the bed they made so to speak.

But would you rather have teams fold because they can't make money?

My personal view is that the players dont see this. I say let the teams fold and i think only then, the players will realize the owners can still operate under the former CBA.

I would love to see 2-4 teams "fold".... love it. The league is diluted by that many teams anyways. There should be contraction but neither side truly wants that.

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#112 Archaeologuy
December 07 2012, 01:11PM
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@DSF

I guess we shall see. At the end of the day what I really want is NHL hockey back, but I dont know how much better the owners are willing to make the deal if Fehr and Co. keep playing chicken.

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#113 DSF
December 07 2012, 01:12PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

We have had our conflicts in the past, DSF, but today, I am in awe. I agree with every word you've written, just wish I had the time to add my two cents. But you don't need my help.Keep fighting the good fight,

Thanks.

I really don't have a dog in this fight since I really don't back either side, just responding to the process as I see it.

I really despise Bettman though since I think he has been very dishonest about the state of the league for years and often does things that are not in the best interests of the game in my opinion.

I think he may have met his match (and then some) in Fehr and am enjoying the resulting theatre immensely.

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#114 A-Mc
December 07 2012, 01:14PM
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@roger

Actually i thought the discussion was going rather well. people aren't name calling or throwing personal insults (not real ones anyway). This feels like a relatively healthy discussion on the good/bad/ugly surrounding the lockout and its current stage of negotiations.

Just FYI: it'd take me 53 years to earn 3.5 million dollars, making what i make today.

From the fans perspective, this entire thing is just ludicrous. The sport is all that matters and making sure we have the proper number of teams to facilitate a healthy competitive environment should be at the top of reasons for negotiation. Owners can't lose more money than they do, the reality is that 15 of 30 teams basically lose millions of dollars every year. The only side that has anything to lose is the players.

The players definitely need to absorb some of the hit to ensure we can maintain all 30 teams.

BUT

i also think there should be something on the league side that takes from teams like Toronto to give to teams like phoenix. I'm not saying i want to squash the ability of a team to make money, but i do think that owners should also be partially responsible for equalizing the market differences around NA to make sure their league stays healthy.

PS: I'm not married to having 30 teams in the nhl. I imagine we could afford to lose a few and/or move the dungeon dwellers into markets that make sense. Ontario could easily support another team or two, for example. Then there's Quebec!

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#115 DSF
December 07 2012, 01:17PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I guess we shall see. At the end of the day what I really want is NHL hockey back, but I dont know how much better the owners are willing to make the deal if Fehr and Co. keep playing chicken.

They're actually very close to a resolution I think but I really do think Fehr (and some of the more thoughtful players) realize that the NHL proposals on contract length will not only be bad for the players but also the game in the long run.

Apparently one issue that hasn't been discussed at all is how the transition to the new CBA will be handled since the NHL doesn't want any dollars paid to the players to be "out of the system", in other words...no amnesty buyouts.

There could be a lot of chaos depending on how they agree to settle those issues.

That Horcoff contract just keeps on giving :)

Who could have seen that coming?

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#116 The Beaker
December 07 2012, 01:19PM
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Can someone explain this to me: The 50% of HRR is used to calculate the salary cap/floor and whatnot but owners do NOT have to spend to the cap... right?

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#117 The Beaker
December 07 2012, 01:19PM
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Double post: but if thats the case i just dont get it. say the players got 100% of HRR but the salary floor is only 30%. If the owners wanted to make money all they would need to do is not be retarded with their spending. Players can ask for all they want, owners do not have to give it to them.

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#118 DSF
December 07 2012, 01:19PM
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A-Mc wrote:

Actually i thought the discussion was going rather well. people aren't name calling or throwing personal insults (not real ones anyway). This feels like a relatively healthy discussion on the good/bad/ugly surrounding the lockout and its current stage of negotiations.

Just FYI: it'd take me 53 years to earn 3.5 million dollars, making what i make today.

From the fans perspective, this entire thing is just ludicrous. The sport is all that matters and making sure we have the proper number of teams to facilitate a healthy competitive environment should be at the top of reasons for negotiation. Owners can't lose more money than they do, the reality is that 15 of 30 teams basically lose millions of dollars every year. The only side that has anything to lose is the players.

The players definitely need to absorb some of the hit to ensure we can maintain all 30 teams.

BUT

i also think there should be something on the league side that takes from teams like Toronto to give to teams like phoenix. I'm not saying i want to squash the ability of a team to make money, but i do think that owners should also be partially responsible for equalizing the market differences around NA to make sure their league stays healthy.

PS: I'm not married to having 30 teams in the nhl. I imagine we could afford to lose a few and/or move the dungeon dwellers into markets that make sense. Ontario could easily support another team or two, for example. Then there's Quebec!

And, you should remember that it was the players who were pushing hard for increased equalization payments.

While it is in their best interests to do so I think you have to agree it was enlightened self interest.

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#119 DSF
December 07 2012, 01:20PM
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The Beaker wrote:

Double post: but if thats the case i just dont get it. say the players got 100% of HRR but the salary floor is only 30%. If the owners wanted to make money all they would need to do is not be retarded with their spending. Players can ask for all they want, owners do not have to give it to them.

Right.

They have to spend to the floor.

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#120 mayorblaine
December 07 2012, 01:24PM
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@DSF

we wait indeed sir. hoping 2 wrongs eventually make a right. but only for all the associated people not the owners or players.

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#121 PutzStew
December 07 2012, 08:00PM
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@LoDog

HAHAHAHA. No DSF Nailed it. This isn't and hasn't been about $$$ for a long time. The players went in to this to screw Bettman, and guess what....Fehr is doing a good job.

PS. You can all say you read it hear first. This deal has less to do with the players money and more to do with their pride. If Bettman is gone at the end of this lesson on "How not to negotiate 101" then they are winners, no matter how much money they lose.

PPS. Bettman ended nogotiatins last night, not the Players. The NHL could have always said no and resubmitted their offer but instead they tok there ball and went home.

PPS Here's hoping this thing lasts till the end of the season. This is much funner to watch then the Oilers finishing at the bottom of the standings.

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#122 PutzStew
December 07 2012, 08:07PM
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@DSF

DSF I think I like you style. Get Rid of Bettman and get in somebody that wasn't the spawn of a Vampire and a slab of marble. I'm sick of his BS regarding the state of the league, hearing fans boo him all the time and just seeing his face in general. If he is outed at the end of this and replaced with someone who has a heart beat and personality, then fans win.

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#123 Romanus
December 07 2012, 10:53PM
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smiliegirl15 wrote:

The players will find themselves with a lot less sympathy after this latest development. They're willing to make no concessions? Strudwick has said previously, the players wished they'd signed earlier last CBA and had saved the season. Shoulda, woulda, coulda - are they putting themselves into the same position this time?

Fehr is no friend of hockey.

Or baseball.

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#124 Romanus
December 07 2012, 10:57PM
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Captain Obvious wrote:

DSF is absolutely crushing this board. He's right on all counts. This isn't about short term money, it's about whether the players allow the owners to dictate their longterm relationship solely on their terms.

At this point the player's have made major concessions on every single issue. The owner's have conceded nothing. It's very interesting to watch the media and fans be influenced by the owners so easily. The anchoring point isn't an imaginary want in someone's head, it is the last agreement. If you measure against that, the players have given and given and given. This isn't a moral judgement, it is a simple fact.

Every time someone in the media says we need to split the difference they are ignoring the fact that players have already made huge movements while the owners have not moved at all.

Also interesting how some others can be influenced by Fehr's posturing.

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