REAL NEGOTIATIONS, PLEASE!

Jason Gregor
September 05 2012 01:55PM

I don't have anything against Donald Fehr or Gary Bettman, but I'm happy we won't have to hear from them until next week. Up until this point neither has said anything of real substance. I wouldn't expect them to. Most fans don't want to hear either side bitch and moan about how they are being wronged, especially when they are taking about money. They all make more than 95% of the fans ever will, so don't expect sympathy from "the best fans in the world."

Asking them a question is pointless because they will only give an answer that they feel might sway the fans to their side. At this point the most pressing question I have is when did Gary start wearing an earring (or what looks like an earring in the above photo from Sportsnet.ca)? That is very risque for the commissioner of a pro league to do, so maybe Gary is lightening up during his potential third lockout/strike.

Seriously though, I welcome the silence, at least publicly from both sides. It should give them some time to come up with a proposal that the other side might actually consider. I know, I know I probably sound drunk for mentioning such a novel approach, but I can dream.

At this point I'm not on either side.

I believe that if both sides were truly transparent to each other, we'd likely get a deal done. After speaking to people on both sides, I get a sense that either the leaders aren't being completely transparent to their own members, or that some of their members really don't know or care about the issues. It's probably a bit of both.

Here is what I don't want to see or hear anymore.

  • Players please stop tweeting that Gary will be making his salary during a lockout, while your beloved leader Donald is a saint because he won't be. It has ZERO barring on the negotiations, so don't be petty. When you sign a contract and then under perform for the next two years, do you give your money back. Didn't think so. It has nothing to do with the real issues.
     
  • Unless you are going to clearly define what is HRR (hockey related revenues) please don't constantly bring it up. The formula, which seemingly seems to change weekly, is more difficult to comprehend than a one-year old trying to tell you what they want. It can't always be a bottle and/or a new diaper, which is why once kids and parents start speaking the same language the outbursts seem to diminish, at least until they are teenagers. Although, if Don and Gary gave each other a bottle of scotch we might see some progress. Some of the best negotiations in fantasy pools have occurred over a beer, or ten.
     
  • Can we all please stop mentioning that contract length is a real contentious issue. Of course the NHLPA says they don't want to limit the length of contracts, and I'm sure they don't but will they die on a hill/issue that only impacts 3% of the union? They could easily settle for seven years. And then maybe have a clause that allows teams to sign players who are potential UFAs, and who they drafted originally, for a max of eight years. This isn't a major concession for the players. They might claim it is, but in reality it isn't.

Do you know how many players in the NHL currently have deals longer than seven years? 23 out of 740.

PLAYER        YRS           CAP HIT            AGE WHEN                      SALARY IN FINAL YEARS
                                                                  DEAL STARTS (ED)
Kovalchuk      15              $6.66 mill              27                                 $7m combined in last 2 years.
Dipietro          15              $4.5 mill                25                                 $4.5m in last year.
Weber            14              $7.85 mill              27                                 $1m in each of last 3 years.
Ovechkin       13              $9.53 mill               23                                 $10m last year.
Parise            13              $7.58 mill              28                                 Avg of $1.33m over last 3 years.
Suter              13              $7.58 mill              28                                 Avg of $1.33m over last 3 years.
Keith              13              $5.53 mill               27                                 Avg of $2.1m over last 3 years.
Crosby           12              $8.7 mill                26                                 $8.7m in last year.
Zetterberg     12              $6.08 mill              28                                 $1m in each of last 2 years.
M.Richards   12              $5.75 mill              23                                 $3m in each of last 2 years.
Luongo          12              $5.33 mill              31                                Avg of $1.2m over last 3 years.
Hossa            12             $5.27 mill               31                                $1m in each of last four years.
Lecavalier     11              $7.72 mill              29                                 Avg of $1.25m over last 2 years.
J.Carter          11              $5.25 mill              26                                 $2m in each of last 2 years.
Franzen         11              $3.95 mill              30                                 Avg of $1.33m over last 3 years.
Backstrom    10              $6.7 mill                22                                 $8m in last year.
J. Staal          10              $6.0 mill                25                                  $6m in last year.
Quick             10              $5.8 mill                27                                  $2.5m in last year.
Ehrhoff          10              $4.0 mill                29                                  $1m in each of last 3 years.
B. Richards   9               $6.66 mill              31                                  $1m in each of last 3 years.
Nash              8               $7.8 mill                26                                  $8.2m in last year.
Campbell      8               $7.14 mill              29                                  $7.14m in last year.
Doughty         8               $7 mill                   21                                   $7.65m in last year.

If the max length was seven years those players would still get their money.

Even if the NHLPA agrees to six-year max contracts, with extra year to keep drafted potential UFAs, it would still only impact a few small amount of players. Currently only 14 players have seven-year deals.

E. Stall,     $8.25 mill cap hit
Gomez,     $7.35 mill
Rinne,       $7 mill
Spezza,     $7 mill
Chara,       $6.9 mill
Kopitar,      $6.8 mill
M.Koivu,     $6.75 mill
Datsyuk,     $6.7 mill
Karlsson,   $6.5 mill
Elias,          $6 mill
Hall,            $6 mill
Myers,         $5.5 mill
Pronger,     $4.9 mill
J.Johnson, $4.35 mill

If they agree to six-year max terms then a whopping 5% of the league wouldn't be allowed to sign 7+ year deals. Not a big issue considering the star players will get their money regardless. They'd likely just get back-to-back six-year deals. So let's stop wasting time suggesting that length of salary is a massive concession for the NHLPA.

The real battle will be splitting the revenue. And it isn't as simple as saying make it 50/50, because there are other issues in play. Players can't complain they should get a share of every revenue stream of the owners, unless they are willing to pay their share for arena upkeep, renovations and new facilities. While the owners can't complain that they are paying the players too much, when they are ones who allowed their GMs to sign the deals in the first place.

Unfortunately, it won't be easy, but this will be the main battle. I'd like them to do more talking privately and less publicly, because the only public chatter we here is never about the real issue.

Focus on the real issue, splitting revenue, and the rest will easily fall into place.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • What was the rush to name Gabriel Landeskog the captain in Colorado? He has one-year of NHL experience. Being captain has as much off-ice responsibilities as on-ice, and I'd argue the off-ice ones take more effort. If the season were to start on time, Landeskog couldn't even organize a team night out at the bar, because he isn't old enough to get in. Steve Yzerman played three years before being captain, while Sidney Crosby and Jonathon Toews wore an "A" before being named captain. The Avs just put a lot of unnecessary pressure on Landeskog.
     
  • I wonder what the Panthers will give up to get Luongo? They shouldn't have to give up much, because the Canucks don't want the distraction, and few teams will take Luongo's contract. They shouldn't give up more than one good young player, and a mid-range salary player.
     
  • The Oilers need to start transitioning their leaders, and I'll be shocked if Ralph Krueger doesn't give an "A" to Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle. Krueger has stated the kids are the future, so I'd expect him to follow through on that and give one them a letter. Hall is more emotional while Eberle is more cerebral. They'd be good leaders, but in different ways. Krueger should give name one of them an alternate captain before the season starts, hopefully before November.
     
  • I'd have no problem if they gave Ladislav Smid a letter either. He's becoming more like Jason Smith all the time. Competes hard, blocks shots, but he skates better and moves the puck more efficiently. His work ethic and desire needs to be matched by more of his elder teammates.
     
  • I'm happy for Jason Strudwick on landing his own radio show, weeknights from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m on the TEAM 1260. He's passionate about hockey, but if you really want to get him going talk about the Tour de France. I think he loves the long races because it reminds him off all the bag skates he had to endure when he was a healthy scratch.

    Good luck Struds, I know you'll do well.    
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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Dipstick
September 05 2012, 01:58PM
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Maybe they can settle it with a FIST fight

(I couldn't resist. Summer is over and I'm restless)

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#2 T__Bone88
September 05 2012, 02:37PM
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If that is an earring it is certainly on the "wrong" ear.

I absolutely agree in not giving the "C" quite yet to the kids. It would add an additional amount of pressure on top of the new contracts just signed. I could see giving Hall & Eberle an alternating home & away "A" shared with either Smyth/Hemsky/Smid/Whitney. It's unfair to strip Horcoff of the "C" just because he is not performing to his contract, he is still a good soldier & mentor.

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#3 Sanaa Montana
September 06 2012, 12:24AM
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The long contracts are products of the people who benefit the most from them, the agents.

Each team should be allowed; 2 seven year contracts 3 six year, and 4 five year. The lifer contracts are oxpoo, most players that sign them are not good team players, nor loyal through the draft to them. They dont make much sense to me, but i bet they do to the player and the agent.

I side with the NHL on this penis measurement.

I agree that Smid should get a letter. He is a true Oiler, at heart and on the ice.

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#4 K_Mart
September 05 2012, 02:26PM
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I think it's a mic that bettman is wearing. ... or did you forget to turn on the sarcasm font. Good article though. Since the biggest issue really is the HRR and the split of it, I can't imagine these two sides taking more than another month to get that sorted out.

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#5 HEGLEMAN
September 05 2012, 02:29PM
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Hey Gregor, do you think the naming of Landeskog would sour some of the Avs dressing room, I mean it;s not like he was an heir apparent (like Crosby) and from everything I hear O'Reilly was thought to be a real strong candidate?

P.s I usually take the side of business owners because I think in our society (weather right or wrong) him who has the cash usually makes the decisions, but in this case the workers are the ones who bring in the revenue. We need transparency and all joking aside both sides need to be solutionists (solution oriented). there has to be a common ground but nothing will be accomplished as long as ego and battles are fought in the media.

thanks

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#6 Professor
September 05 2012, 02:33PM
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I agree. Why can't they just say that since this is a "partnership" they are going to split the revenues 50/50. Doesn't that seem fair to everyone? Wouldn't that be a true partnership? Also why is everyone so against the owners? They put up half a billion dollars to buy the francise why shouldn't they be able to make $20 or $30 million a year in profits. That's only 4-6% profits per year on their investment which isn't much and there are a bunch of them losing that much or more. Are the players losing money every year? The owners are at least trying to negotiate. The players don't offer a proposal until a month before before the CBA expires, then doesn't give up much which is just a stall tactic because their proposal is from left field and not really dealing with the problem. Then when the owners come up significantly the player say, "oh that's nice" but don't move at all. That is not a negoiation that's just not caring.

I also don't understand the hate on the owners for giving large amounts of money to players in contracts. Of course you will because if you don't offer that much some other team will. The NHL is very competitive and 1 player can make the difference between going deep in the playoffs and missing the playoffs. So you pay the player $1 million more than anyone else with the shot at making $20 million in playoff revenue. It seems worth it to me.

Anyway I just want it to be over so we can watch hockey again.

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#7 B S
September 05 2012, 02:44PM
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I'm certainly not the first to suggest it, but Landeskog as Captain reeks of desperation, or rather a lack of depth on the Avs. This isn't meant as a knock on Landeskog, the guy is a beast and has a hell of a resume for leadership, but its surprising that no-one beyond Hejduk is fit to be captain of that team. I've thought fairly highly of Colorado's young talent, but if their management is this unsure about the rest of the team it doesn't bode well for their future.

If Gagner gets it together this season (50+ points, stronger defensive play and faceoffs)he should be resigned and given a letter (probably the C). As crazy as it sounds he is probably the best candidate on the team after Horcoff and Smyth. Ask Yakupov who was the first to contact him after he was drafted (that's a Captains job). Gagner works as hard as anyone on the ice (and off), has the most experience of any of the young guys, and wants to stay in Edmonton and lead this team.

As you mention Jason, there's more to being a captain than playing the game. Gagner seems to have his head right and level on his shoulders and is probably a better candidate for taking care of the off-ice tribulations than Hall or Eberle, who are still getting it all figured out (not that they can't be leaders too, they just don't need the extra responsibility of the C).

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#8 oilerman53
September 05 2012, 02:54PM
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Jason Smith was a fierce competitor and he left it on the ice after every game. I'll always remember when the Oilers got him the first thing he did was surgically have his big toe nails removed so as not to get injured when blocking shots. That guywas a warrior and a tribute to old time hockey players.

Hall is my pick for captain, the team lives and dies with his fierce forecheck and drive to do anything it takes to win. This is Halls team and Nuge and Ebs are excellent choices for the A.

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#9 Glenn (Headpins) Schwarz
September 05 2012, 03:52PM
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Gregor with the CBA one problem is they don't know how to negotiate, Bettmen and Fehr are lawyers there job is to slow things down all low ball. Why's it so hard for the owners just to say we NEED a 50/50 split why through 43% when they know it's an insult. Same with Fehr and the players why come up with a whole diffrent cba and not work off the original proposal makes no sense. I put deals together every day (not at this magnitude) but scale means little. every single person or group has a deal in ther mind when they start low balling gets little down you can piss off the other party or insult them so bad that they get away from there original deal and become very hard to deal with and i see this from the players. That 1st proposal pissed them right off as it should've Gary new they would never even consider 43% and the players should know better than to come back with a propsal that went back to 57% in the 4th year. If the players take the 50/50 split at the rate of growth at 7.1% they will be back at this salary cap in 2 years, From my point of view the 2 head guys like seeing themselves on TV to much there's no way when 2 groups need each other to work it should be this difficult to get done. Like i said be straight forward tell the other party what you NEED not WANT to make a deal. As for whos side I'm on it's us the fans owners should be slapped accross there mouths i watched and listened last lockout "cost certanty" doing this for the "fans" was tossed out by Gary and owners lower ticket prices bullcrap oiler tickets went down 6 bucks in the first year and have gone up 150% since then. "Cost certanty" this is what drives me the owners had the PA beat to death last time the players would'vesigned any deal just to get back on the ice this cba was the owners pride and joy NOW it's bad to friggen bad for them it was there deal it was why we lost a year.

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#10 Locksmithluke
September 05 2012, 03:56PM
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Outstanding article Gregor! I think that this piece ought to be distributed as page one in the hand books that are passed out at the NHL/PA's meetings! Any MSM coverage I have viewed on this topic has lacked any substance whatsoever! 'Nuff of the goofy stuff, let's get down to brass tacks!

As far as the captaincy goes, I'd personally like to see Horc carry it one more year, and letting the youth build on what was, essentially, an outstanding start to something beautiful, without putting undue stress on either/any of them. Another season to let Hall and Ebs show the leadership without being saddled with any off ice distractions, allowing them to moreso grow into the role(s).

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#11 Dave Casselman
September 05 2012, 06:40PM
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Would that so many of us didn't live and die by being fans of hockey. Many reasons, too numerous to mention, all of them valid.

As fans, as dollar paying customers, we're being taken advantage of. Lots of lip service, (both sides proclaiming the last thing they want to do is penalize the fans,) but end of day, that's exactly what it turns out to be - lip service.

As our culture evolves, who isn't familiar with looking out for number one? Owners, players, me and you. And even me and you pay lip service to what it was like during the good old days; great stuff, neighbours looked out for neighbours, the dollar was evil but NOT as evil as it is today. On and on, a lot of it inaccurate.

As simple as it can possibly be: Owners run the risk of a failed franchise. (Ask the guys who used to own the Coyotes, the guy who owned the Seals, the Cavaliers, the Rockies, etc. etc. etc.) Since these guys risk personal financial ruin, it seems only fair that they have the right to attempt, within generally accepted reason, fairness, labour standards, call it what you will, to call the shots. Such is the nature of capitalism as we know it.

So. If the above is reasonably accurate, it's their football to take home. If Donald and his merry men don't much like the hundreds of thousands, even millions, they take home annually, if that's their idea of having to eat cake, then they should form their own league.

Bottom line is that I for one am tired of being taken advantage of. If there's a lockout this time round, not one dollar spent by me until the playoffs. Even then I'll feel guilty. Surely do wish I didn't love the game as much as I do.

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#12 Oilcruzer
September 05 2012, 07:15PM
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Bottom line for me is...

...I don't want to hear who got what percent cuz really, it doesn't affect me. Just let me know if it's done or not.

As far as taking sides? Who cares...

The employer has a right to make money. So does the employee.

The fringe player doesn't deserve 50% of the superstar tho.

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#14 Pouzar99
September 05 2012, 08:37PM
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As for HRR, the reporting so far, as in all aspects of the negotiations, has been terrible. How can we have a meaningful discussion of HRR without a precise explanation of exactly what it includes and doesn't include, what areas are in dispute and the arguments pro and con?

I am trying to follow this closely and I still do not know specifically what the owners now want excluded from HRR because if anyone is reporting those details I can't find them.

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#15 Slats
September 05 2012, 11:54PM
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I agree get the books on the table of all revenue streams and get only the ones that are fair on table (ticket revs, advertising, jerseys and merchandise player/ team related etc) and get rid of the nonsense!

Otherwise maybe we should consider putting forward a "Crowd-proposal"- starting with a 25% roll back in all ticket prices! And let them start with that haircut.

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#16 Pouzar99
September 06 2012, 01:57AM
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Has anyone see that fabulous YouTube video from Finland about the lockout. Got to see it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWQs3O_IDas

Don't know if this will work. It is called NHL - Together we can. Unbelievable compilation ending with devastating shot of Ray Bourque finally lifting the Cup while a boy (his son?) fights back tears.

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#17 sizedoesmatter
September 06 2012, 05:37AM
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what sucks is both sides will sign for the same deal in three months that they could sign for today.Not being able to get a deal done is not a sign of a good leader its proves how bad both leaders are.

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#18 madjam
September 06 2012, 08:45AM
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Once again the owners will give Bettman a vote of lockout . It worked to their huge advantage last time and now they will try and do it again before real negotiations even start to evolve . Owners win no matter what , it's just a matter of how much this time . Fehr will help union do better than last time when players got taken to the cleaners so called . Appears to be more the greed of owners than Bettman if a lockout ensues . Certainly a deal can be reached in fast order if the games and posturing is finally over .

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#19 Reagan
September 06 2012, 09:36AM
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Well I hope they lock themselves into a room and hammer this stuff out. Get it done. Enough of this five year dribble make one that counts at least to 2020. This back and forth firing pot shots is hopeless for everyone. I love hockey and I personally say that it taken me five years to convince family members to watch again, and now this crap is recycling itself all over again. Good job guys...

Jason, Gary is wearing one of those Britney Spears mics.

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#20 Quicksilver ballet
September 06 2012, 10:25AM
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*insert token, "We've got NFL 3 nights a week now, who cares about the NHL" comment here*

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#21 VK63
September 06 2012, 10:27AM
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Im not sure why so much mileage is given to "letters".

Horc is the Oilers captain because of work ethic, on and off the ice, longevity and perhaps a wee bit of "leadership" in the sense of follow me through this wall boys. He does an adequate job at delivering the pat answers required to appease the media, but at this point in the NHL the stick boy can deliver that junk verbatim. (as can any 6 year old fan... but I digress).

The Oilers as a group play like a bunch of pussies, soft as a babies bottom and I dont see any of the new crop being divergent from that trend.

If it is agreed that the Oilers need to be a much more difficult team to play against then the next "captain" needs to be able to inspire physicality.

I wish him luck.

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#22 Reg Dunlop
September 06 2012, 10:43PM
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I am afraid of Donald Fehr, just like I'm afraid of clowns. He has a heavy reputation as a labour representative, he is a protege of Marvin Miller, he oversaw 17 years of MLB with average earnings of players increasing more than 10X (from 289,000 to 3 million+), and he is going to prove a bigger head-ache to the owners than can be imagined. The idea that the union is only as strong as the membership makes it... this is true and a leader like Fehr won't let the membership cave like last CBA. A pessimist would not only be kissing this season good-bye he would be preparing for a return to a 2 tiered NHL where only 4 large market teams compete yearly for the championship, just like MLB.

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#23 Gret99zky
September 06 2012, 11:05PM
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The more I hear comments and read tweets from the players the more I realize most of them couldn't qualify for the most menial of minimum wage jobs in the "real world".

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