It’s nice to see Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr finally put an end to all the dick measuring that’s gone on during the NHL lockout by way of today’s news the NHLPA finally has a new proposal to contemplate.

While the offer put forward by Bettman after a protracted period in which both sides seemed content to let the other make the first move, resulting in zero meaningful discussions, likely won’t be embraced with open arms by Fehr and the PA, it’s at least a talking point.

Bettman’s offer, notably featuring a 50-50 split in hockey related revenue – is there a truer definition of a partnership than 50-50? – and a full-season of 82 games with a Nov. 2 start (I don’t see it getting done that fast), will take some massaging to get the PA to capitulate, but there seems to be a willingness to talk now. That’s the good news.

The bad news, speaking of dick measuring, is today’s word that Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz has no intention of appearing before city council to meet the Oct. 17 deadline imposed by mayor Stephen Mandel – Katz made that clear in a letter today, leaving the mayor and councilors to follow up on what was basically a "meet with us or else" edict.

I imagine we’ll find out the "or else" in the next few days – hands up fans willing to let Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins blow town in the hope what’s left of the Phoenix/Florida/Columbus roster will move here after the city builds an arena on its own — but that’s a whole other item.


"From what I read on twitter I think it’s a good sign," Oiler captain Shawn Horcoff told Jim Matheson of The Journal when discussing the proposal put forth today.

"It’s a start. I really think it’s their (owners) first real showing of interest in getting a deal done. The chances of us taking this one right now and signing off on it is pretty unlikely…that’s not the way it works, but hopefully it’s the grounds for a counter-proposal and more talk on the issues."

At this point, meaningful negotiation and grounds for a counter-proposal by the NHLPA is about the best fans can ask for. At the very least, today’s news provides a shred of hope, even if talk of a Nov. 2 start and a full schedule seems optimistic in the extreme, after weeks when there’s been very little.

I was busy slapping in windshields in my shop today and hadn’t taken a glance at my phone or the internet when I got an e-mail from a staunch Oilers fan I know. "Hockey is back (maybe)," he wrote, which got my attention.

The return the NHL remains a very big "maybe" and there’s still an awful lot of negotiating to do, but today’s CBA news seemed a ray of light compared to what we’re hearing on the downtown arena front.

Talk is good, even if it’s cheap. No talk? Not so much.

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

  • DSF

    On the bad news story — Just when things seemed to be looking up, Katz tosses a hand grenade into the negotiations for a downtown arena. Wow!

    Katz seems tone-deaf on how to deal with municipal politicians and get the support of the public. No clue.

    Makes one wonder what his end game is. I don’t believe there is a deal available in North America that would suit Katz. It happened once in Pittsburgh, but this is now. There is no fairy Godmother casino deal anywhere. With the economy, it is difficult or next to impossible for municipalities to substantially finance new sports facilities for pro team owners.

    City Hall should build the downtown arena and let Katz go fishing for a new home. By the time the downtown arena is completed the NHL may consider either transferring a sunbelt team to Edmonton or offer it an expansion team. Or get a new owner. The City should talk to Bettman.

    • So, screw Katz? See ya, RNH, Hall and Eberle etc? No worries. Edmonton (maybe) gets . . . Phoenix . . . CBJ, Florida?

      Not my idea of a suitable outcome when there’s no need for it if both sides would get down to business.

      • DSF

        With all due Respect Robin, do you honestly think Katz has been a fair negotiator?

        Yes, it would be ideal if they came to an agreement that made sense, but Katz’ actions and comments time and again, reveal he has not been IMO

        How do you come to an equitable agreement when one side is unreasonable?

        Just simply cave, and give them everything they want?

        I think council has bent over backwards to make this work, and put a lot of political goodwill on the line in the process

        It comes time in any negotiation to say, we can’t go any farther, and it’s up to the other partner to agree or move on.

        I believe that stage has been reached.

        And the city building the whole thing isn’t an answer either, since the big thing for NHL teams is to manage a building, and reap all the revenues.

        By managing a building or sharing it with another pro team like the NBA, those NHL teams can deduct up to 35% of their share of HRR to the NHL. the Calgary Flames for instance get to deduct up to 20 mill from their share of HRR since they Manage their building.

        As well, even if the Oilers moved and we attracted another NHL team, they too would want all arena revenues.

        To me that is nonsensical for the city to pay all the construction costs and hand over all arena revenues too an NHL team, but that’s the NHL model. Too rich for my liking

        • The Oilers Shot Clock

          You may be willing to tie yourself into a binding deal for 35 yrs with zero cost certainty but I doubt Katz will. He didn’t get to where he is by being stupid and allowing a bully-boy city council to out-gun him and a provincial gov’t to put him and Edmonton on the pay-no-mind list.

          The whole attitude of the city would give me pause entering into such a partnership. Frankly, Edmonton doesn’t deserve to be on any map. This is not a forward thinking city. The anti-business administrations past and present have kept Edmonton in the shadows behind Calgary’s growth and what seems to be to me,, at least, a more progressive outlook. The ghosts of Pervis and Jan Reimer will haunt this city for ever.

          Soldier on me hearties. This brain-fart performance by council may be E-town’s epitaph.

      • DSF

        Won’t be Columbus.

        They just got a sweetheart “no rent” deal from the city/state as part of the sale that made the arena a publicly owned venue.

        They also agreed to stay till 2039.

  • DSF

    Katz – “Before we can sign a 35 year location agreement and invest more than a quarter of a Billion Dollars into a new Arena that the city will own, we need a solution that makes economic sense”

    “With more time and political leadership, this project can still be saved”

    What on Gods green Earth is Katz talking about, it is frankly borderline delusional at best!

    He suggests he’s investing $250 million into an arena, how?

    By my account Katz has or is to spend the following:

    – 30 mill for land purchase of greyhound station (not an arena investment)

    – sold arena land to the city for 79 mill (not an arena investment)

    – is pledging 25 mill for a pedway (Arena investment)

    – paying rent of 5.5 mill for 35 years, subsidized in the first ten years by 2 mill from the city for advertising (Arena investment)

    – responsible for Capitol expense and maintenance (arena investment but not for initial construction)

    – wants a subsidy of 6 mill/year (not an arena investment)

    – receives naming rights revenue for building (not an arena investment)

    – receives all profits for building except for a month for CFR (not an arena investment)

    So how is Katz investing $250 mill into the arena? From what I see, he’s making money off that deal, gobs of it!

    Is he counting capitol expense and cost to run the facility over it’s length, despite ignoring he’s getting 100% of revenue?

    Is he counting the development and land costs for greyhound station area, where he is building a property he can make money from?

    Is he counting the purchase price of the hockey team for $200 million, making it an asset he can own, and sell for a profit to someone else at anytime?

    Where’s the $250 mill investment? If the city gets no revenue from building, what is the advantage of owning it, especially after 35 years?

    Did council take notice of the Seattle arena deal, which has the developer buy back the arena from the city so they aren’t stuck with a 35 year old decrepit building?

    Katz suggests he’s providing some advantage to the city, which he isn’t, and that the city is benefiting by owning it despite getting no money from it, ridiculous!

    Katz suggests he wants a fair deal for himself, yet he’s putting very little money into the project, compared to the overall cost of building the facility, almost none of it up front, and now wants us to pay him a susbsidy to reap all the profits, while the city is also building an LRT station, etc. The man truly is delusional!

    So what now?

    Let this project die or build an arena ourselves?

    If the city built the arena themselves, it isn’t lucrative for Katz, unless he gets to either manage the building or receive all the revenues from it. In fact, if Katz moved the Oilers, the NHL revenue model would expect the city to hand over 100% of profits to that NHL team as well!

    The way NHL Hockey Related Revenue works or HRR, is it allows teams to deduct up to 35% of revenues from HRR, if they share the building with another pro team, or they manage the building themselves. For example, the Calgary Flames get to deduct 20 mill from their HRR contribution to the NHL to split with players since they manage their building.

    Consequently, Katz won’t be interested in just paying rent, HE WANTS IT ALL.

    The City would be foolish to build an arena themselves and hand over all profits to Katz for rent.

    Political leadership, who is Katz kidding. I haven’t agreed with the original deal, but can admit there has been HUGE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP, that is a slap in the face by Katz and simply untrue.

    He had a fair deal, and wants more.

    It seems to me, this project has to mercifully end and die.

    The NHL expects way too much, and as a sports fan I’m out growing the NHL at this rate.

  • DSF

    The NHLPA won’t agree to this very fair proposal, we’re talking about Donald Fehr here.

    The owners have already budged too far, if they give anymore they will pretty much be setting up the next labour stoppage to fix the problems within a decade.

    Hopefully this is the end of the arena deal. It was a horrible deal for the Edmonton taxpayers to begin with, and was just going to get worse. Even the Seattle deal is much better for the taxpayer in comparison, although still unethical.

  • DSF

    Nobody’s moving into a cut-rate city built arena run by Northlands. That’s what got us into this mess.

    I hope the mayor/city council and Katz do some negotiating toward a deal benifitting everyone that both can live with rather than all this negotiating and posturing in the press which helps nobody.

    • DSF

      Yes I agree that Northlands really screwed up by suggesting a renovated Northlands. They should have been willing to scuttle Rexall Place for the right to manage the new facility.

      My view is that if the city owns the Arena then the Oilers should be a tenant. I have never been a fan of Northlands ,,, but they deserve a shot at running the new Arena.

      I see that Bob Stauffer wants Bettman to come in and save the day for Katz … not going to happen . Katz has zero political clout left.