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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#1 The Soup Fascist
December 06 2012, 09:52PM
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"This depth player is Wicked smart"

You sure this reporter is not with the Boston Globe?

Any player who can work a calculator and has a rudimentary knowledge of economics should be looking to end this. The numbers have been shown ad nauseum. Losing the season means 90% of players take a hit they never get back. The players will let the head of the NHLPA know that if it goes to a vote.

How do you like d'em apples, Fehr?

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#2 RexLibris
December 06 2012, 10:12PM
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Great insight Robin, thanks for the info.

A little off-topic but...MAN is that one scary photo of Fehr. I'm going to need the nightlight and my special teddy bear pajamas with the feet in order to fall asleep tonight. I wonder if that is what Bettman and Daly see in their nightmares?

On the topic at hand, learning more and more about Fehr's negotiating style these past few months (feels like years) and this sounds like him. Passive aggressive, manipulative, and orchestrating a way for the other guy to look like the villain when based on photo evidence he so obviously is the bad guy. Hannibal Lecter bad.

If half a day with Fehr can convince the chairman of MLSE that they are better off not playing hockey, and by extension not printing money, then he really is poisonous in this relationship.

If the players end up kicking him to the curb then I really don't have much sympathy. They hand-picked this guy and gave him his mandate. I'm not defending the owners in this, but from the sounds of it they have tried, at least recently, to achieve compromise.

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#3 Quicksilver ballet
December 07 2012, 01:23AM
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All those multi millionaires behind Fehr, and not one of those guys who are set for life already are smiling.

Maybe we should start a bottle drive to cheer these guys up. Gong show rules are obviously still in play almost 20 yrs later.

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#4 Archaeologuy
December 07 2012, 08:44AM
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The Owners caved on UFA, caved on Arbitration, put 100 Million more into Make Whole, and the PA balked.

I'm sorry, but the Owners arent the ones preventing this season from happening.

If NHL revenues grow 5% annually the player share of HRR will be larger in 3 years than it is now, and the Make Whole would make those 3 years easier to deal with for contracted players. You wont find me in the line-up to pity the players any time soon.

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#5 Archaeologuy
December 07 2012, 09:44AM
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@DSF

So, to be clear, Fehr outsmarted the NHL into taking Make Whole off the table, into cancelling 25% of the NHLPA's earning potential for the season, and into possibly cancelling the whole season in just a couple of weeks?

Oh you tricksy Fehr! He's sly like a Fox that one. Well done, Donald. Well done.

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#6 RomRox
December 07 2012, 12:19PM
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Players giving massive concessions as compared to the last CBA? In what business do employees take 57% of gross revenue?

The NHL should go back to 74% of gross revenue, lose 75% of the teams, but at least the players will be happy they won!

Yay, half the players work at McDonalds now... Players win! Players win!

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#7 RomRox
December 07 2012, 04:14AM
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Roman Hamrlik was right, and he'll be proven right again. The players will eventually accept a deal that will be less than what the owners are offering now and would have lost a years worth of wages that they'll never get back.

... Some players might even think, "well we sure showed them. We were strong in our resolve. We stuck together as a union"... but completely missing the fact that they're out the average $2.4M salary. Plain idiocy.

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#8 Truth
December 07 2012, 09:48AM
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Anyone catch this last night on Twitter:

Scottie Upshall @ScottieUpshall

"There's no pressure yet on the owners to lose this year, that's why they still treat us like Cattle. They'll need a partner come January."

$3.5M/year, 5 pts in 26 GP last season. I would have sent him to the butcher by now.

For a guy that makes $500,000 per in-season month, he should be begging for the PA and league to come to an agreement right now. It's going to be real funny when the season is cancelled and the players end up signing a far inferior deal in the off-season. The joke's on you Scottie, Florida ownership loves the fact that they don't have to pay you your overpriced salary while they actually make money in other business ventures.

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#9 oilabroad
December 07 2012, 10:35AM
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DSF wrote:

You, like many others, are thinking short term.

Fehr, and many of the players, are thinking long term.

This dispute isn't about the Crosby's of the league, they, as you say, already have their money, it's about a system that will do a lot of harm to the rank and file.

While it's true that there will be short term casualties among players who are on short term contracts, I think Fehr has been able to convince them that there is a greater good involved here.

Whether or not he can keep their support is another question but, so far, he has it.

So you are going to convince me as a depth 4th line guy with a typical 100 game NHL career that I should give up 40-80 games of that career in which I will set myself up for my post hockey career, that I should hold out for more money for some 14 year old kid who will be making 50% of HRR on a much larger number than I am today??

You are dreaming if you think these guys think that way... these guys all think they are going to play for years in the league, hit the big payday some day and they will reap the benefits of this war they went to this year with the owners... they need people telling them that this is not going to happen and they need to do what they can today to set themselves up for tomorrow

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#10 mayorblaine
December 07 2012, 12:05PM
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@DSF

and if the players want to continue to be the product they need to thank their "employer" and settle up.

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#11 K-UGER Industrial Smoothing
December 07 2012, 12:45PM
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In Soviet Russia, KHL plays game. Owners make money, players can play or go Gulag.

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#12 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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#13 dcsj
December 06 2012, 09:37PM
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a vote! What a novel concept!

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#14 Mark-LW
December 06 2012, 09:46PM
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vote

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#15 vetinari
December 06 2012, 09:48PM
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Vote

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#16 Marshall Law
December 06 2012, 09:58PM
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One of a lawyer's primary duties is to manage the expectations of his client. Fehr has his superstar clients thinking in terms of ideals. Sooner or later the players have to realize that they're going to take a hit on this and that it's in their best interests to mitigate the damage.

It's time to hear from the players who have the most to lose in all of this. Take the vote.

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#17 vetinari
December 06 2012, 10:04PM
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The tail is wagging the dog... 90% of the union won't be affected by the concessions that Fehr has them holding out for... take the vote...

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#18 Taylor Gang
December 06 2012, 10:06PM
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Wicked smart eh? Someone say ivy league man George Parros?

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#19 PutzStew
December 06 2012, 10:11PM
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I started getting excited until I read Lowtide's blog about the line up. Now I actually thankful there is no hockey. The kids can't carry that much dead weight.

I like this better. The players I want to watch are playing and I don't have to waste my time cursing everytime an oiler pulls a Horcoff.

I'm still a hockey fan but As far as the NHL goes...I have better things to do this winter, so thank you for not playing. U

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#20 The Soup Fascist
December 06 2012, 10:16PM
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Any truth to the rumor that there is a "poison pill" clause in D. Fehr's contract that if the rank and file vote in opposition to his recommendations he is entitled to a several million dollar payout from the NHLPA, Mr. Brownlee?

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#21 book¡e
December 06 2012, 10:57PM
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This comment "We were ready to play again. But Don came in (Wed.) and told us we could get more and to hold out"

Along with Bettman's angry response suggest that there was a good faith deal being worked out and Fehr asked for more after the informal handshake.

I don't know that to be true - could all be NHL strategy.

However, all it takes is for one player who is willing to put up with union bullying to come out and say 'it' that the Union is looking out for the top players at a cost to the rank and file.

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#22 stevezie
December 06 2012, 11:04PM
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Well, time is running out. I am cheering for the players, but if this season gets cancelled doesn't it kill both their earning power and their leverage?

If I were them I would take the millions. Recchi is right- the GMs will find a way to pay them more. Don't worry, you'll still make millions.

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#23 Stealth
December 06 2012, 11:23PM
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Fehr is killing this. How many players standing next to Fehr make less than 7 million a year? Funny you don't see the role players up on stage.

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#24 Cheap Shot Charlie
December 06 2012, 11:40PM
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Basketball commissioner vs Baseball union rep. ...hmmm!!! Anyone for a game of hockey!?!

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#26 gongshow
December 06 2012, 11:59PM
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Bettman is brilliant. I really hate the guy's public personality, but he is playing the players like a fiddle. I keep trying to ignore this whole charade, but this is entertainment at it's slo-motion best. I still miss my hockey highlights before bed, but this is just getting good.

This roller-coaster of emotion combined with some wives/girlfriends who can't change their spending habits is going to have guys caving in bunches shortly.

My bet is that PA members are likely glued to the TV, twitter and working the phones with their pals like nervous nellies waiting for some news and Bettman is going to get the deal that he expected to from the beginning.

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#27 gongshow
December 07 2012, 12:04AM
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Once the dust settles on this, I think that it would be interesting to look back and see how Bettman vs. Fehr stacks up against Selig vs. Fehr.

(Sorry, I'm losing my mind with nothing but NBA highlights every night)

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#28 The Soup Fascist
December 07 2012, 12:08AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I don't know the answer to that. Sorry.

No problem. Like I said ... rumor. May even be a common clause in a situation like this.

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#29 Serious Gord
December 07 2012, 12:12AM
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On stauffs show a week or so ago I called fehr a filthy commie. And meant it.

Lets look at what this man is and what he's done to the PA:

He grew up as a lawyer at the side of Marvin miller. Miller was a straight down the line old style union boss. He brooked no dissension from within the players ranks and steadfastly rejected the concept of a player/owner partnership. In his opinion the players were the workers and it was up to the owners to deal with all of the management and promotion aspects.

And miller never gave into the concept of a salary cap.

And this is fehr's first experience as the head of a PA in a capped league. It is plausible that he does not wish to retire as the head of one. Decertification has a lot of appeal for him in this regard.

While fehr has not publically rebuked players for speaking out, everyone that has has run for cover and gone mute after they have. The anonymous player comments tweeted above are further proof of a Freaking "on the waterfront" ethos just like how Marvin miller used to do it.

Fehr isn't going to let any vote happen unless he knows it will go the way he wants it to.

....

Were I an owner at this juncture, i would give the players a public ultimatum: sign on for what's on offer right now or it goes down by 30 million a day (one mill less per team) every day until next Friday. If there is no deal by then, seasons over and the league sues the PA in New York to ensure that the decertification case (and the PA will decertify) is heard by a bush appointed judge not some far left Clinton appointee.

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#30 Hayek
December 07 2012, 12:13AM
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Finally a solid, interesting article. Keep it up.

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#31 Lebowski
December 07 2012, 12:25AM
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Many former players who are now in the media have a decidedly pro NHLPA bias in their views. Kypreos, Ward and Strudwick come to mind. Their bias is understandable but what has surprised me is how extreme and emotional they are. I was listening to Strudwick arguing with a fairly level headed Jason Gregor a few weeks ago and I was surprised at how angry and distrustful Strudwick was regarding the owners, the NHL and Bettman. He went so far as to say that the players lost the last negotiation and that they were in effect on high moral ground to fight for what was rightfully theirs and that any compromise on their part would be tantamount to defeat. Kypreos and Ward were also sounding like that tonight. I guess it's to be expected in that they are more like color men than reporters who should be more objective and even handed. Nonetheless I find myself getting angered in listening to them.

Fehr does not want to do a deal. I have always found him to be reprehensible. He's a snake in the apple tree.

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#32 stevezie
December 07 2012, 12:25AM
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@gongshow

That's a good point. There's a lot more going into these negotiations than just counter-offers. The players are probably twice as fristrated as the fans right now, and willing to just kill the whole process and start making money again.

The risk Bettman is taking is not with the players, however, it's with the fans. I think we're at a point where they're not going to "just come back", even in Canada. I might be wrong, but I think the league takes a big hit off of this. There's no Corsby/Ovechkin/Rule Changes coming to erase everyone's memories this time.

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#33 stevezie
December 07 2012, 12:29AM
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@Lebowski

The biggest mistake the owners made was turning this thing into a pissing contest with people who are prideful and competitive on a professional level. I think that if the league acted like this was a partnership instead of a contest they might have gotten a deal they liked a long time ago.

Yes the players are probably crazy for not signing the deal they have in front of them, but they didn't reach the top .01% of their competitive profession by being measured and rational. They are where they are because they are competitive to a fault, and I think the owners underestimated that to everyone's mutual detriment.

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#34 Lebowski
December 07 2012, 12:34AM
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Hooray for Serious Gord. I heard you on Stauffer's show. I'm glad that I didn't steal your "filthy commie" quote. However I was thinking of calling him Joe Goebbel's boss, which is the other extremity.

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#35 Romanus
December 07 2012, 12:39AM
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I agree.

I am getting tired of seeing Crosby Richards St. Louis Dolan behind Fehr. It's apparent he is working more for the top 5% of the players. Because I'm guessing that the other 95 % of the players that will never see a contract over 5 years would likely not worry about the limit. The make whole impacts the top players the most, etc.

I would love to see all the players vote on the last owner proposal.

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#36 Captain Obvious
December 07 2012, 12:49AM
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This is why fans, who are ignorant of the meaning of words, are not employed to negotiate labour agreements.

The five year contract limit would be a disaster for most players. Here's why: It's a mathematical certainty that term limits would transfer money away from the "middle class" players.

Right now teams compete for players by term length as well as annual salary. If the term is limited to five years then every in demand player will sign a five year contract which means that teams can only compete on annual dollars. This will drive annual salaries up thus limiting the amount left over for all those players not signing five year deals.

Not only is it impossible for this not to happen, in addition to shifting money away from the "middle class," but by increasing the annual salary of star players it will also hurt the small market teams the most, precisely those teams it is supposed to benefit.

This is how stupid the NHL is. They are playing hardball over a contract provision that is going to harm those teams the lockout is supposed to help.

It's ironic that ignorant people call Fehr a communist when he is fighting for free market principles against a monopoly/cartel.

I don't think the players should necessarily be paid more but I do think that they should be paid whatever a team thinks they are worth. If that turns out to be more, I'm fine with that, if it turns out to be less, that's ok too. I do think, however, that it is reprehensible to impose a restriction on their earnings without providing something in return. A CBA is a partnership and until the NHL understands this there won't be a deal. If the NHLPA decertifies they will win in court and that will, quite rightfully, be the end of the NHL as we know it. It isn't only the players who have a lot to lose here.

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#37 wiseguy
December 07 2012, 01:59AM
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I don't mean this as any offense to the site, and I encourage those that can round up the statistics to tell me I'm wrong... But the biggest sign that the NHL is going to have a long road to recover after this lockout is the very low number of comments posted here at ON even on a day like today when the league was all over the news. I've noticed lately that most articles have a handful of comments and from only a small number of repeat posters. Apathy will kill the league much faster than anger. If its happening here, multiply it by an infinite amount in most cities in the US. We are all caring less and less.

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#38 westcoastoil
December 07 2012, 02:14AM
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Captain Obvious wrote:

This is why fans, who are ignorant of the meaning of words, are not employed to negotiate labour agreements.

The five year contract limit would be a disaster for most players. Here's why: It's a mathematical certainty that term limits would transfer money away from the "middle class" players.

Right now teams compete for players by term length as well as annual salary. If the term is limited to five years then every in demand player will sign a five year contract which means that teams can only compete on annual dollars. This will drive annual salaries up thus limiting the amount left over for all those players not signing five year deals.

Not only is it impossible for this not to happen, in addition to shifting money away from the "middle class," but by increasing the annual salary of star players it will also hurt the small market teams the most, precisely those teams it is supposed to benefit.

This is how stupid the NHL is. They are playing hardball over a contract provision that is going to harm those teams the lockout is supposed to help.

It's ironic that ignorant people call Fehr a communist when he is fighting for free market principles against a monopoly/cartel.

I don't think the players should necessarily be paid more but I do think that they should be paid whatever a team thinks they are worth. If that turns out to be more, I'm fine with that, if it turns out to be less, that's ok too. I do think, however, that it is reprehensible to impose a restriction on their earnings without providing something in return. A CBA is a partnership and until the NHL understands this there won't be a deal. If the NHLPA decertifies they will win in court and that will, quite rightfully, be the end of the NHL as we know it. It isn't only the players who have a lot to lose here.

I don't think your logic holds entirely true because you haven't accounted for the mathematical effect of salary cap + min. wage + number of players on a teams roster. These factors will cause a top out of top salaries at a certain point. The current CBA didn't run long enough for the full salary structure impact to shake out

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#39 stevezie
December 07 2012, 02:29AM
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@Captain Obvious

You're mostly right, but I think you are missing the most important point: can the players longer term limits?

Idealists on both sides seem to forget that it doesn't matter what you deserve, or even what you need. It's all a matter of what you can get. I don't think the players are getting much more than what is currently being offered. Time will tell who is right, me or Fehr. He's certainly got the credentials and track record. (This isn't a defence of owners- I agree with you that a five year term limit is silly and would handicap teams a lot more than it would help them.)

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#40 nwo4life
December 07 2012, 03:04AM
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Crosby has a 12 year contract in his pocket.

What is he fighting for?

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#41 RomRox
December 07 2012, 04:03AM
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I dont understand what the players point of view here is really. They are willing to lose a season and not get paid (or at least not get paid as much)for what? Because they so called lost so last negotiation? They have principles they live by? They want to make a point to the owners?

In that case, I hope they dont play this season. In fact, dont play next season either. I hope they find a regular job that pays an average salary. I am sure they are so set on their principles (or whatever it is that they dont want to sign a deal)that they would be much happier making $60k instead of the average salary of $2.4M playing for owners they dont trust.

Im a huge Oiler fan, I make an average salary, and I cant even afford to go to a game. I have to hope and pray to MAYBE get work tickets.

Owners should now stick to their guns and really fix the game. If they want 43% like they originally wanted, 5 yr contracts, etc. go for it. Fix it. Have your 30 teams and possibly expand. I would bet alot of players would still want to play in the "new" NHL. For those players that dont... go play in Europe and get paid less money.

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#42 Aitch
December 07 2012, 05:58AM
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@Taylor Gang

My thoughts exactly.

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#43 mayorblaine
December 07 2012, 06:15AM
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the NHLPA better be prepared. owners own and players play. fair or not, no matter.

at some point soon the NHL owners will tell Bettman to burn it to the ground. bury them. sure not at all owners but enough to make it happen.

if i were an owner i would say that. cancel the season.

Fehr is ruining the game.

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#44 ed in mada
December 07 2012, 07:54AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

On stauffs show a week or so ago I called fehr a filthy commie. And meant it.

Lets look at what this man is and what he's done to the PA:

He grew up as a lawyer at the side of Marvin miller. Miller was a straight down the line old style union boss. He brooked no dissension from within the players ranks and steadfastly rejected the concept of a player/owner partnership. In his opinion the players were the workers and it was up to the owners to deal with all of the management and promotion aspects.

And miller never gave into the concept of a salary cap.

And this is fehr's first experience as the head of a PA in a capped league. It is plausible that he does not wish to retire as the head of one. Decertification has a lot of appeal for him in this regard.

While fehr has not publically rebuked players for speaking out, everyone that has has run for cover and gone mute after they have. The anonymous player comments tweeted above are further proof of a Freaking "on the waterfront" ethos just like how Marvin miller used to do it.

Fehr isn't going to let any vote happen unless he knows it will go the way he wants it to.

....

Were I an owner at this juncture, i would give the players a public ultimatum: sign on for what's on offer right now or it goes down by 30 million a day (one mill less per team) every day until next Friday. If there is no deal by then, seasons over and the league sues the PA in New York to ensure that the decertification case (and the PA will decertify) is heard by a bush appointed judge not some far left Clinton appointee.

I've been out of the country for 2+ years and it's good to see some people's stripe never change.

Happy about 4 more years?

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#45 They're $hittie
December 07 2012, 08:52AM
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@Captain Obvious

how is revenue sharing a free market concept. He is communist in his approach to owners and free market for players. Sounds a lot like Stalin. Me guys enjoy the perks while you support the masses.

5 year limits also restrict the front loaded contracts which destroy and unbalance escrow.

What about all those dollars tied up in useless years on long term deals. 6 mill cap hit for Kovy when he is 41 is not taking dollars away from other players?

And if this is such a partnership why are the players coming away with currently 57% or revenue in which they keep most, yet the owners side less expenses comes out to a little over 4%.

This league is not profitable yet the players get the most out of any of the big four, now five sports in NA. Absolutely atrocious. There is not enough money in it to structure it like baseball or like football.

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#46 j
December 07 2012, 09:23AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The Owners caved on UFA, caved on Arbitration, put 100 Million more into Make Whole, and the PA balked.

I'm sorry, but the Owners arent the ones preventing this season from happening.

If NHL revenues grow 5% annually the player share of HRR will be larger in 3 years than it is now, and the Make Whole would make those 3 years easier to deal with for contracted players. You wont find me in the line-up to pity the players any time soon.

I don't have a strong opinion either way at this point but I don't believe the owners have 'caved' on any of the significant issues. The owners may have scaled back from their original proposals, but they haven't caved. And their original proposals were extremely aggressive in the first place so they have really only regressed to a 'moderate' point. As far as who is right or wrong - unions had a place when kids were dying in coal mines. I am not sure I understand the role of a union for professional athletes who make millions. Seems a bit inconcruent with what the union's original purpose was. Now, could the CHL use a union? Those kids are being mistreated - plain and simple.

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#47 DSF
December 07 2012, 09:23AM
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It seems pretty clear to me what has happened here.

Going into this process, Bettman had a mandate to lockout the players until a pre-determined date in order to wring as many concessions as possible from the players while doing limited damage to the game.

I believe Bettman and his core group of owners had agreed they would be willing to sacrifice a part of the season in return for long term benefit, a strategy that was scripted with the help of Proskauer Rose, the NY law firm that was also involved in the NFL and NBA labour disputes.

Based on the NHL's willingness to bend on many issues this week and based on Bettman's fury that the NHLPA would not accept his "final offer", I think we can see that the date Bettman had in mind all along was today.

If the negotiations had wrapped up this week, the NHL could have likely salvaged a 60 game season (give or take) and been able to salvage its relationship with its sponsors and broadcast partners.

The problem is, Fehr is smart enough to realize the dance that Bettman had choreographed and, at the last minute, would not roll over.

Confirming all this was the NHL strategy to get Fehr out of the room this week but it didn't play out the way Bettman expected.

Ron Hainsey has been quoted all over as saying he was told by an owner that Fehr returning to the talks would be a "deal breaker", and it was.

The subsequent tirade launched by Bettman was nothing more than a childish reaction to Fehr having outsmarted him.

Where we go from here is almost impossible to know since Bettman is both stubborn and vindictive but I would guess he is now under immense pressure to stray from his script....not so much from the owners but from sponsors, corporate partners and broadcasters.

For those of you calling for a vote on the latest offer, please bear in mind there is nothing to vote on. The NHL pulled the offer yesterday.

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#48 Fresh Mess
December 07 2012, 09:27AM
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I doubt the union will be warm to the suggestion of a secret ballot vote. It makes it too hard for the union whips to bully, intimidate, and threaten dissenters if they can't identify them.

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#49 oilabroad
December 07 2012, 09:45AM
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DSF wrote:

It seems pretty clear to me what has happened here.

Going into this process, Bettman had a mandate to lockout the players until a pre-determined date in order to wring as many concessions as possible from the players while doing limited damage to the game.

I believe Bettman and his core group of owners had agreed they would be willing to sacrifice a part of the season in return for long term benefit, a strategy that was scripted with the help of Proskauer Rose, the NY law firm that was also involved in the NFL and NBA labour disputes.

Based on the NHL's willingness to bend on many issues this week and based on Bettman's fury that the NHLPA would not accept his "final offer", I think we can see that the date Bettman had in mind all along was today.

If the negotiations had wrapped up this week, the NHL could have likely salvaged a 60 game season (give or take) and been able to salvage its relationship with its sponsors and broadcast partners.

The problem is, Fehr is smart enough to realize the dance that Bettman had choreographed and, at the last minute, would not roll over.

Confirming all this was the NHL strategy to get Fehr out of the room this week but it didn't play out the way Bettman expected.

Ron Hainsey has been quoted all over as saying he was told by an owner that Fehr returning to the talks would be a "deal breaker", and it was.

The subsequent tirade launched by Bettman was nothing more than a childish reaction to Fehr having outsmarted him.

Where we go from here is almost impossible to know since Bettman is both stubborn and vindictive but I would guess he is now under immense pressure to stray from his script....not so much from the owners but from sponsors, corporate partners and broadcasters.

For those of you calling for a vote on the latest offer, please bear in mind there is nothing to vote on. The NHL pulled the offer yesterday.

Yeah Fehr outsmarted him alright, outsmarted him out of the other 60% of player salaries this year... thats not smart

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#50 OilClog
December 07 2012, 09:47AM
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I don't want to say this.. But DSF pretty much nailed it.

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