Ten Points: The Barons, Sergei Makarov and the lockout

1. If the lockout continues, Justin Schultz could set the AHL record for scoring by a defenceman. The current AHL record for points in a season by a defenceman is 96, set by Chris Snell (34 career NHL games) back in 1993-94. Schultz is currently on pace for 105 points over an 80-game season. He’s also on pace to record the most goals ever scored by a defenceman (41), 11 ahead of the current record-holder, John Slaney (268 career NHL games). On the other hand, he’s also played just over a dozen games so far and his scoring may slow.

2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are delivering more or less as expected. Both players are currently on pace to record around 90 points, and the Oklahoma power play has been clicking of late and now sits second overall in the AHL.

3. Oklahoma City’s attendance woes are starting to be a major concern. Few people are benefitting from the lockout like fans in Oklahoma City, who get to watch NHL’ers like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, but there is no sign that they are taking advantage of it. Just under 5,000 people – including tons of school kids – showed up for the Tuesday morning game, well north of the 3,402 fans the team has averaged to date. Attendance has been in decline since the Barons franchise started in Oklahoma: going from an average of 4,155 in 2010-11 to 3,684 in 2011-12 to this year’s 3,402. This is despite a reasonably successful team and plenty of high-profile prospects.

4. Yann Danis’ struggles this season are decidedly unusual. Goalies are the streakiest players in the game, and I’d argue it’s probably still too early to be unduly concerned about Yann Danis’ 4-4-1, 0.898 SV% performance this year (particularly given the defensive breakdowns in front of him). However, he never got this cold last year – his worst month in 2011-12 was March, when he went 4-2-1 with a 0.914 SV%. In fact, this is Danis’ worst save percentage run in any league since closing out the 2008-09 season with the woeful Islanders in the NHL.

5. The struggles of Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz are less unusual. Both Roy (2-2-0, 0.898 SV% in the AHL) and Bunz (6-1-1, 0.906 SV% in the ECHL) are off to mediocre starts, but that isn’t unusual. Roy had some ugly streaks in the ECHL last year – including three where he posted four or more consecutive losses – while Bunz had a great WHL season with some really ineffective stretches last year.

6. Toni Rajala is off to a strong start. It is pretty difficult to muster much enthusiasm for Toni Rajala’s future with the Edmonton Oilers – not only is he in the ECHL, but he is a scoring forward listed at 5’10”, 163lbs. He spent the last two seasons in Finland after a single year with Brandon of the WHL. However, he’s been on fire in the early going – through 12 ECHL games he has recorded seven goals and 16 points, and is averaging more than four shots per game. If and when the lockout ends, he seems like a prime candidate to get a shot on a scoring line in Oklahoma.

7. On the other hand, Rajala’s hardly the only call-up option for Oklahoma… Philippe Cornet, a 24-goal scorer and AHL All-Star last year, has also started well for Stockton. He isn’t the shooter that Rajala is – he’s a hair under three shots per game – but he has 14 points over his first dozen contests in AA Hockey.

8. Tobias Rieder is slumping again. A year ago, Tobias Rieder established himself as a prospect to watch, simultaneously scoring 42 goals/84 points in the OHL and winning recognition for brilliant work on the penalty kill. Rieder’s been streaky this year – after starting with two goals and six points in his first seven contests, he picked up nine points in four games. Since then, he’s had just a goal and an assist over his last nine games. Injury may be a factor – he missed a game recently with back spasms.

9. Put me down for Sergei Makarov. Jason Gregor’s piece two days ago asked which players should make the Hockey Hall of Fame next year, and I’m really hoping that Sergei Makarov makes the cut. Over 10 seasons between 1979 and 1989 (after which he left for the NHL), Makarov led Russia’s top league in scoring nine times. He likely would have gone a perfect 10 for 10 had he not missed 14 games in 1982-83. Add in what he did internationally – he was well over a point-per-game at the Olympics, World Championships, Canada Cup and World Juniors, and the fact that he had a very respectable NHL career in his twilight years and I think the case for him is compelling.

10. Finally, a bit of clarification – there are no “good guys” here. Some people clearly took yesterday’s piece – where I argued that NHL players don’t simply need to roll over and take what the NHL is offering them – as a sign of a pro-player bent. While I do have some sympathy for the players – the NHL is imposing its will, and all the NHLPA can hope to do is limit the damage – I don’t see either side as the protagonists in this current dispute. I’ve been very clear on this point in the recent past:

There is no ‘right’ side in this dispute. It’s not a battle between good and evil, or even a shade of good versus a shade of evil. Both sides are fighting in the margins for small portions of huge chunks of money. Both parties are rich enough to ensure their interests are fairly represented. Both are within their rights to fight in the margins, even if and when the lockout strips away more revenue from both sides than the total figure they’re arguing over. Trying to make a case for one side or the other as the good guys is just a waste of everyone’s time.

However, not everyone feels that way. There are fans vocal in their support of one side or the other, and in Edmonton it seems like ownership gets most of the sympathy. I don’t understand it, personally: the league as a whole makes good money, and they’ll make better money once this is dispute is over. Revenue is up, franchise values are up, and even some teams that theoretically bleed red ink – like Florida – are profitable in a big picture view (Florida, the hockey team, loses money – but the Panthers are a cornerstone tenant of a profitable building, and the organization that operates the team and facility has long been highly profitable).

Ownership exercised their clout during the last lockout to cap the percentage of revenue that the NHLPA membership could receive. They’re using their clout again to make that cap smaller. They’re well within their legal rights to do so, just as the NHLPA is within their legal rights to hang on to every penny they can. Nothing in that arrangement makes either side martyrs or saints.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Eulers

    The prophecies of Nostradamus told us of such a time:

    “And it shall come to pass that the northernmost ice team shall finish 8th in the conference then advance to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Ironically they shall be defeated by Hurricanes (See “Change, Climate” chapter 5). They shall build on that success by trading away their best player. From there, things shall go from bad to worse. Then, they shall go to worst, worst, and second worst. Then three brave number ones shall join their ranks. Incredibly, each shall be shinier than the last. They shall be aided in their quest by one chosen 22nd and one neither traded nor drafted nor born of woman from the clan ‘Duck’. After this long journey, it shall come to pass that foolish rich men shall condemn the sport to the dust-bins of history. We are left to wonder what could have been of these brave warriors.”

  • Jason Gregor

    Curious why you think the Panthers should lose money on hockey because they make money on non-game nights. Essentially players are getting paid by money generated from events they aren’t part of.

    Is it because Sunrise Sports and Entertainment doesn’t pay for the entire rink. If so, that argument has some merit, however, according to stories I’ve ready Broward County doesn’t want to run the facility.

    The reality is hockey doesn’t make enough money to warrant the salaries. I have no sympathy for the owners cause they pay the money, but teams like Florida, CBJ etc are forced to lose money just to reach the floor. The fact the players think other teams should pay for players to play in Florida is laughable. IMO.

    Because the facility makes money on non-game nights, shouldn’t mean hockey players get a share of that. The system is broken, and both sides are oblivious to that.

    • No, I don’t think any team should be forced to lose money on hockey salaries. I think the obvious solution is to relax the salary cap floor and increase the ceiling – lose a little bit of parity but allow each team a little more flexibility.

      The point I was making with Florida was simply that even though there current situation sounds bad superficially, it’s much better than it sounds. The Panthers are mentioned as a relocation/contraction target, but it won’t happen – the building operators need a cornerstone tenant, so they brought in the Panthers. They’re making good money, even though the Panthers themselves are not.

  • Jason Gregor

    If Dino Cicarelli is in, why not Makarov?
    Why not Jason Smith then too? Or Luke Richardson?
    Because the Panthers are losing $ you look at the “bigger picture” view that includes the rink, the marketing co, the hot dog vendors, etc. This same view would then have, 5 yrs from now, ultimately, Edmonton city council referenced as part of the Oilers’ “bigger picture”, because they’ll be owners of the D/T rink conglomerate that profits from “hockey” existing, thus making claim that the Oilers are far mmore profitable than they are.
    No, hockey and direct spin-offs are HRR and nothing more. Take hockey away and people will find some other way of earning a living, including developers who will – upon complete dissolution of the D/T rink if there was no hockey – develop some other form of D/T revitalization likely centered about the liberal arts and lifestyle Edmonton is bent towards.
    In other words, don’t try to reach too far to justify the players. They ain’t putting any risk on the table, they simply flip pucks. Businessmen who lay ut $100M at a shot are putting something into our economy, into our cities. Players skip any town with no care in the world and no consideration to the betterment of the community for a few extra $.

    • This same view would then have, 5 yrs from now, ultimately, Edmonton city council referenced as part of the Oilers’ “bigger picture”, because they’ll be owners of the D/T rink conglomerate that profits from “hockey” existing, thus making claim that the Oilers are far mmore profitable than they are.

      No, it wouldn’t. The guys who own the Panthers make the money from the rink in Florida.

      So, for example: imagine that Daryl Katz, through the Oilers, gets the city to build him an arena and he then takes the lion’s share of the profits from. Now imagine – somehow – the Oilers go from obscenely profitable to losing money, but that Katz’s interest in the new arena is still profitable as a whole, because the concerts he’s bringing in and what not generate far more money than the Oilers lose. That’s the situation, more or less, in Florida. The rest of the revenue doesn’t come without the team. Should hockey stand on its own two feet? Yes, it should. But Katz would still be getting far more from his ownership of the Oilers in this scenario than just a money-bleeding disaster.

  • Jason Gregor

    Totally agree with Gregor’s point – in what other business do employees dictate how owners should be allocating their expenditures? I have no issue with the concept of revenue sharing (it seems to benefit the NFL) but that’s a committment to be made within the NHL ownership group, not one to be forced on them by employees.

    Do the Lakers get money for cash made at Staples when the Kings play? Should the Kings when the CLippers or Lakers play? Not so much.

      • book¡e

        One last comment and then I will stop. I just want to point out that there is nothing wrong with the NHLPA asking for whatever they get. However, I think they are in a very weak position because of the significant disparity in the distribution of league profits to the players at present. I could be wrong (given that we don’t know actual profits). However, if the owners as a group are not really losing much money with this lockout, then they have no reason to fold. We know the players are losing tones of of money. Every week Shawn Horcoff loses the annual salary of a well paid lawyer. Many of these players have less than 10 years to earn the bulk of their life’s income. The ‘Strudwicks’ of the league are soon going to feel the pressure. They might be drawn in by the NHLPA’s union ‘all for one’ mentality, but their wives sure the hell won’t be. As soon as some player publicly breaks with the ‘line’ of the NHLPA or when they allow a secret vote (won’t happen), the deal will be done.

        • I don’t disagree. The fact that the NHLPA has already agreed to an eventual reduction in their pay by 12 percent (relative to HRR) shows precisely how weak their bargaining position is.

          I don’t object to the owners making use of their leverage, either; if I were a billionaire who owned a team I’d do the same thing.

          All I object to is this idea that the owners are somehow on the side of truth and justice in this battle. Both sides have misrepresented things left and right, both sides make tons of money, and both sides are acting in their own financial interests without any concern at all for how their battles impact the game, the fans, or the regular guys getting paycuts and losing jobs as a result.

          • I strongly believe both sides have the right to fight for as much as they want, but I really believe the PA has misrepresented far more often than the league, and it’s frustrating because I believe it’s out of ignorance rather than intent.

            re: Makarov – how is he not already in the HHOF?

            Re: Point 10 above – it’s amusing that you write about how you’re not on either side and them immediately provide an argument against the owners.

            I don’t actually doubt your impartiality, but I do think that was funny.

          • I appreciate you not doubting my impartiality 🙂

            I find myself generally arguing the players’ side when faced with a pro-NHL crowd, and generally arguing the owners’ side when facing a pro-NHLPA crowd.

            There’s no question for me which side Edmontonians tend to favour.

      • It is wrong because they know they are not going to get it and are just wasting time.

        Just because the owners are saving money, it doesnt mean they are to spend it on the players.

        The players are out to lunch, end of story.

        I dont understand why most of the media are siding with the players-guests and interviews is my guess, once hockey resumes.

        I said yesterday, Ill say it today and tomorrow probably: the players are a bunch of spoiled whinny manginas.

  • Jason Gregor

    @jasongregor

    Super interesting point, I haven’t even heard that broached with such clarity. It would be nice if the issues in play were laid out a little more clearly for fans to avoid the hyperbole and us-and-them bents we serm to get. But transparent articulate points on the issues both sides are fighting about might play against their PR strategies. On a personal note, I haven’t felt so disenfranchised from hockey since the Corson Oilers. It took me 4 years to get back into watching hockey.

    @willis

    What’s Ebs’ shooting% looking like so far?

  • book¡e

    @Dave. Rethink the whole players skip any town comment. Players like Ryan Smyth, Lee Fogolin,Dave Lumley,Dave Hunter,Dave Semenko and so on have stayed in our city and have contributed. Guys kike Messier and Gretzky have always offered their time to causes that benefit our community. The recent Kinsman gala that Messier was the host of.Its not a fair comment.

    @Gregor. We should be paying to keep players in Florida? Not in my lifetime. If anything its time to put Florida where it belongs. In Quebec City. I do believe in Columbus Ohio as a viable market. Its been a tough go lately but with steady management it should be a good market for years to come. What would be nice is if the NHL looked at Cleveland or Cincinnati as an expansion franchise to give that whole market in Ohio a boost. Especially Cincinnati that does not have a NBA basketball to compete against.

    @Willis. The OKC Barons are drawing flies. What are the options? Is there enough interest there? I think that a market like OKC needs time to develop.Is 3 years enough? Is 5 years? It will be interesting to see what happens come February when Football is no longer a factor.

    • Florida (barring some massive financial shift) won’t ever move.

      Gregor’s written in the past that the Oilers are handicapped because they don’t get non-game day revenue. The Panthers do.

      As a result, since between 1998 and 2012, the Panthers organization has actually made $117.4 million, despite “losing” money on hockey every year. If they don’t own the team, they don’t get that money.

      Owning the Panthers is a door to all kinds of other revenue-generating activities, with the net result that it’s quite profitable for ownership.

      • book¡e

        This is only because they get special treatment as owners of the Panthers, which is really a form of subsidy. Its akin to saying that if you own a hockey team in Edmonton, we will also give you the sole right to own Tim Horton’s in Edmonton and that will make you millions so therefor you will be profitable.

        The NHL has had to leverage the threat of ‘leaving town’ to get favorable deals. The NHL team is unsustainable so we subsidize them with casino’s, concerts, etc and other businesses that are legitimately profitable. In Edmonton, where we love hockey, that likley continues, but when it comes time for new arenas in a lot of American markets, I think the gravy train has come to an end. Municipal governments are shutting street lights off and closing police departments, some have sold their city halls. When the vote comes to subsidize the next arena in Florida or Texas, I think that we will see the viability of this model.

      • book¡e

        Also, is $120 million over 14 years on $200 million invested for the team + ~$400 million invested in an arena complex structure actually a good return?

        I see it as 1.4% annual return on investment. That is pretty poor and not at all a sustainable business model. Of course, if you can pawn the cost of the arena off on taxpayers, then it becomes not too bad at all. How do you feel about that Florida taxpayers?

        Note, I say this as someone who supports public funding for Edmonton’s arena. However, I say this knowing that the business model of the NHL is totally flawed and dependent upon such subsidies. I honestly don’t think it will continue (the subsidies across the league I mean), but I still want a shiny new building downtown.

        • The Florida Panthers were purchased by Alan Cohen in 2001 for $101 million. The arena was built almost entirely with public money, and cost just $185 million in any event.

          So, let’s pretend the $117 million was generated evenly over those 14 years – that represents roughly $8.4 million in profit per season on an initial investment of $101 million.

          Not bad at all.

          Sure, it’s financed by taxpayers, but if you’re the guy who owns the team what do you care where the money comes from?

          • Calvin

            JW, if this lockout stretches into an entire season lost, do you see the Barons moving to Edmonton, like the Road Runners did in 04-05? Of course, the Road Runners moved during the summer…

          • As much as that would be nice to see, I rather expect that the presence of the Oil Kings means there won’t be AHL hockey in Edmonton on a regular basis any time soon.

            Also, moving during the season would be impossible logistically.

          • The Soup Fascist

            What could be doable would be to move a home weekend series or two from OKC to Edmonton.

            The Oilers could pay a “virtual gate” to the OKC owner and cover any incremental travel costs for the opponent – say Grand Rapids in mid February – and still come out way ahead financially and show a little love for the locals.

            Not sure if the Oilers organization would do it, citing it wasn’t fair to the OKC fans. But what is pretty clear so far, is that the vast majority of the population in OKC do not know Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from Olivia Newton-John, so screw them.

            Only question is if these boneheads can’t get a deal done to save the NHL season do we care about any NHLers playing in the AHL by February?

  • book¡e

    JW – if NHL teams are highly profitable, then this lockout will be hurting them tremendously and the players will be able to leverage this into a better deal. If NHL teams are not profitable, but the players are making millions (we know the 2nd part of this to be true), then the owners will hold firm until they get a good deal.

    I don’t see any of this as a moral issue at all (as some do with arguments that the players make too much simply because they make a lot of money), but rather as a business negotiation. I think the problem here is that league profits (if we consider the player salary as a form of ‘profit’) largely go to the players (probably 90%), however, the players take no financial risk as a group.

    Also, player salaries skyrocketed beyond market values in an era when billionaires would buy the teams ‘play with them like toys’ for a few years and then sell them to someone else to play with for a while. As a result Salaries in the NHL increased at a rate much greater than inflation. As teams started thinking like businesses again (as opposed to toys) and sought to make profit, ticket prices shot through the roof, demands for government subsidies increased and are needed in every market,ticket drives akin to charity drives (support your team) were used to draw support from businesses in a manner which is unsustainable in a tough economy. These measures maintained income for a while, but they are simply not sustainable and as a result numerous teams are not sustainable.

    When the same thing happens in housing markets, prices drop (see USA for example). Houses in many markets are worth 30-50% less than they were. It’s called a market correction, but salaries are ‘sticky’ because employees (or contractors) are often unwilling to accept less. When this happened in the auto industry in Detroit and Flint (employees wanting to continue to be paid well above market value) companies just opened new factories in Ohio. Wages were re-adjusted whether the employees wanted them to be or not.

    The NHL players are worth millions or billions or whatever they can draw in terms of a customer base. If players made an average salary of $100 million and arenas were filled with people paying $1000 a night to watch, the situation would be fine.

    However, the reality is that more than half of the arenas have a lot of empty seats and seats ‘filled’ with givaway tickets. The players need to look into their audience and see that they are not ‘in demand’. With lower ticket prices, more seats would be full, but people in a depressed american economy are not willing to shell out $50 to see NHL hockey.

    There is a reasonable argument for revenue sharing and the players should hold their ground there, but revenue sharing only changes the cut of the income pie and under current conditions, there is not enough pie to keep the league sustainable.

    • I’d suggest the player’s percentage is a lot lower than 90 percent. Keep in mind that “hockey-related revenue” is revenue after an array of costs are deducted.

      Broadcast revenue, for example, is included only in HRR after 100% of direct costs are subtracted (in the case of the NHL Network, the league actually had the ability report negative revenue, though reportable HRR for all other broadcasts could not be less than zero dollars). Radio, internet, publications and merchandise sales all have similar rules.

      Additionally travel, rent, insurance, etc. is deducted off the top for all pre-season and “special” games (in the case of the All-Star Game, up to 100% of total revenues can be deducted as direct costs).

      Then there are the things HRR doesn’t include – sales of club equipment, expansion fees, insurance recoveries, and anything of value recieved in connection with the design or construction of a new or renovated arena. The CBA actually includes an illustration of a municipality making a loan and then ‘forgiving’ large chunks of it; none of that is included.

      That’s fine by me; the NHLPA agreed to those clauses. But the fact is that a significant portion of the expense to run the business is deducted from costs before HRR is calculated.

      • book¡e

        Fair enough, I honestly don’t know how much the owners make and that is really the problem. I am buying into the owner line that they really don’t make much and I could be wrong. With that said, if a team is making no profit from NHL operations, than the players are essentially getting 100% of the profits. Again, we just don’t know. The only indication I see are loads of empty seats, free ticket giveaways, and businessmen not jumping up to buy teams like the Coyotes.

        However, if the teams are making money and hurting because of the lockout, the players will have leverage and they will make use of it.

  • TKB2677

    I mentioned this point in a different post but the problem I see is the NHLPA are delusional. They have Fehr up there referencing MLB and what they did in baseball and then mentioning the other leagues and using what they did as examples of what should happen in the NHL. The issue is the NHL isn’t in the same league as the others in the way of money, popularity in the States, advertising, TV deals. You can’t even get highlights in many US marekts from games let alone watch an actual game. Their major sports station; ESPN; doesn’t even cover the league. There are markets especially in the southern part of the States where teams give away 1000’s of tickets just to get someone to come to games.
    I’m not saying the players shouldn’t be paid well and should take whatever scraps the owners give them but they need to face reality. The NHL in the majority of the States is not considered a major sports league so they need to stop thinking they should be paid like the other big boys. The money just isn’t there.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    There’s a lot going on here.

    I’ll just say this:

    Legal position and potential growth of the league have nothing to do with who I side with.

    If you assume more risk (and the owners do, no matter how you look at HRR definitions), you get the bigger piece of the pie. It is a fact of life that the NHLPA hasn’t come to appreciate. Your argument surprises me, JW.

    • How do you judge how much of that pie you deserve, though? I’d argue that the current lockout shows exactly that: the owners will aim for as much as they can, and accept a deal that fits their needs. They’re opposed in this by the players, who will push for as much as they can get.

      My argument is simply that both sides deserve whatever they end up with, and neither should be lionized for fighting for their interests.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Certainly each side is trying to negotiate for their “best deal”. No one can fault them for that.

        But what I can fault them for is their simple lack of math skills. Even on the most rudimentary level:

        * Assuming an average NHLer makes $2 million.

        * A 57% to 50% reduction in take of HRR results in a 12.2% pay cut (assumes no growth in HRR). Resulting in a “new” pre-tax salary of $1.76 million. Figuring max Canadian tax rate (~39%) the difference in take home pay is $150K a year.

        * Once the season is lost, the “average” Canadian hockey player loses take home revenue of $1,220,000 ($2 million – $780K in taxes).

        *Let’s assume the player can make a modest 3% on his $1.22 million he would have made this year. So, if a player is willing to skip the season in order to protect $150K in take home dollars annually, a player is going to have to forego $1,220,000 of this years “take home” dollars. It is going to take ELEVEN YEARS to get back his loss from this year.

        That is assuming that by holding out this year, the owners totally cave and he retains the same deal he had before the CBA expired. That isn’t happening.

        Jonathan, please tell me who is looking out for these guys? The advice they are getting is, at best, atrocious and at worst, criminal.

        • Truth

          I agree completely with you. I would guess the NHLPA’s argument is that the new CBA is for both current and future NHLers, most importantly the future NHLers. Fehr is essentially asking the current players in the NHL to take a hit for the betterment of players in the future.

          I’m sure Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t care that Hemsky is going to lose $5 million for missing this year, but MacKinnon will be happy to be making an extra X% throughout his career because Hemsky fought the good fight. In theory, of course.

          The truth of the matter is that the NHLPA is the union for the current players and they should be looking out for the best interest of themselves. They are inevitably going to take a hit, and waiting longer in no ways guarantees the hit is going to be less in % points gained. The hit in salary lost is guaranteed and immediate.

        • Nope, I don’t disagree with any of that. I’ve actually repeatedly argued that the best thing the players can do is cave quickly. Careers are short, and even half a season lost represents a significant chunk of career earnings for a lot of guys.

          • The Soup Fascist

            So what I don’t get is: why no hue and cry from the ranks, to Fehr and company?

            If I am looking to miss a years worth of cheques I know I am never – EVER – getting back, trust me, I will be whining. Especially if I am say a Shawn Horcoff. I am not picking on Horcoff – there are 100 other guys in the same boat.

            How do I begin to think I will ever get back the $6 million I am going to lose with a missed season? Call me selfish, but with six large on the line, I would be phoning my rep, Dubie and the Fehr brothers every day saying, “make a deal, NOW”.

            I have no idea how Fehr is keeping these guys happy as they start to miss cheque after cheque, for what will amount to small potatoes – gained (maybe??) by holding out longer. Either the players are all dumb as posts, they all are lemmings or Fehr is selling them a bill of goods. And I do not think the players are all dumb as posts (Krys Barch, excluded).

            Maybe the season has to be on the line before the players themselves voice their discontent to the Fehrs. Tick Tick Tick.

          • I just don’t know.

            I’m hesitant to suggest that Fehr’s steering the players on an idiotic course – he’s a very, very smart man and he’s been doing this a long time. His early handling of the NHL – when they were offering 43% and then 47% and saying that the offer would get worse – has been completely vindicated by the league’s last offer. They were bluffing, he knew it, and he called them on it.

            He’s also been excellent, at least from our vantage point, at handling the union’s internal politics. He’s constantly surrounded himself with players, referred to the players as the people actually making the decisions, and deemphasized himself publicly. I don’t buy that this public persona accurately reflects what’s happening behind closed doors, but it’s a good way to play things in a fractious union.

            On the other hand: I don’t see how the NHLPA gets its money’s worth out of fighting any longer. Maybe Fehr’s got a persuasive line he’s selling behind the scenes, but I haven’t heard it publicly and I have trouble making the math work.

          • The Soup Fascist

            Exactly, the math does not work.

            If the number is 50% the rest of the details (max term, entry level, free agency age, arbitration, etc) just determines how the players divvy up their share among the rank and file.

            Months ago, DSF suggested that Fehr’s end play would be to take the hard cap off the table. I thought he was crazy because the obvious move for Bettman is countering with guaranteed contracts. Now, who knows??

            I just do not know where Fehr goes from here, if / when the season is done, without totally pi$$ing off and frankly, “screwing” the bulk of the NHLPA members.

            You are right, Fehr is a bright man and experienced negotiator. I don’t get it. We will see.

          • DSF

            If we reach nuclear winter…and we might…we would see true free market for players.

            While guaranteed contracts woul vanish along with the cap, agents would negotiate huge signing bonuses that would make it tough for owners to cut players.

            Any attempt to restrain that activity woul be seen as collusion so, in the end, the players would win.

            However, the lack of collective agreement would likely results in more than a few franchises failing costing dozens of players their jobs.

          • The Soup Fascist

            Possibly. But how could the NHLPA be strategizing to lose 75 to 100 jobs and have universal buy in from the members?

            How do you keep the rank and file happy? The Crosby’s make 20 million a year and the 4th line on every team gets vaporized.

            My own theory – and it is flawed – is that Fehr overestimated the pressure sponsors and owners making some nice profits would have on the rest of the league. As well the January 1st game was viewed as leverage. I think he is now painted in the corner.

            Why it is flawed is you would think that Fehr would have an “out” other than blowing it up. But I can’t see it. He is playing a game of brinkmanship where his members have way more to lose than the other side in terms of affect on % of net worth.

          • DSF

            The market would normalize eventually.

            The players who lose their NHL jobs would find employment in the AHL and Europe.

            I certainly don’t think that is Fehr,s prime directive but you have to remember he is philosophically opposed to salary caps.

            There might be an argument that hockey would adopt the same system Fehr hammered out in MLB.

          • The Soup Fascist

            God help us. Gate driven league. Full free enterprise would kill off six markets, minimum. Likely more. Tell me how the Jets compete in that bandbox with limited luxury suites?

            Funny. Even with a hundred and twenty million to spend, Leafs would still mess it up. That might just be worth all this crap.

            Wonder if Fehr buys the whole Mayan calendar thing and plans to go out Dec 21 with guns blazing? Makes as much sense as anything else these guys have done to date.

          • book¡e

            “I don’t understand it, personally: the league as a whole makes good money, and they’ll make better money once this is dispute is over. Revenue is up, franchise values are up, and even some teams that theoretically bleed red ink – like Florida – are profitable in a big picture view (Florida, the hockey team, loses money – but the Panthers are a cornerstone tenant of a profitable building, and the organization that operates the team and facility has long been highly profitable.
            Ownership exercised their clout during the last lockout to cap the percentage of revenue that the NHLPA membership could receive. They’re using their clout again to make that cap smaller. They’re well within their legal rights to do so, just as the NHLPA is within their legal rights to hang on to every penny they can. Nothing in that arrangement makes either side martyrs or saints.”

            You go out of your way to prove that you are not on either side, then in the next paragraphs clearly expose your clear bias. It is your right to be bias,we all have them just accept yours. Here is a small sampling of my bias:

            The players are in the top 1 % of what they do so they deserve to be payed accordingly . However anything over 500,000 is in the top 1. %. so after that its just self entitlement. Sure fight for what ever you can get, but when you are willing to loose a entire years salary of 1,000,000 or more just to prove that you are ENTITLED to make that much, you have lost touch with reality!

            When you are insulted by 47% of HR, but expect your bosses to live with that, you have lost touch with reality.

            When you expect the profitable franchises to share their profits with the other
            franchises so you can earn more millions than you have lost touch…..

            When you say it’s the owners fault for signing these contracts and not controlling themselves, and then scream body murder when they use the CBA negotiation to try and reign in there spending, which is really the only legal and viable method of controlling salary. Then you….

            When your agent uses comparables to leverage your salary to they max and then whine about the NHL using the NFL and NBA as league comparables you have lost touch…..

            When you whine that the owners should honour the contracts they have signed, yet you know full well that all contracts are legally linked to the CBA then you…..

            When you whine about honouring contracts knowing full well that many of your brethren have demanded trades or found loop holes, or not lived up to their responsibilities, then you have lost….

            When you call a team that makes 15 million in a boom year which is less then a 10% return on investment a “have” team that should share its wealth then you have lost……

            When the players refuse to realize the owners and GM’s are just as competitive as the players and they will always look for that competitive edge ( CBA loopholes) just as the players see what they can get away with inside a hockey game, yet the players will still point the finger, showing once again that they have ………

            When you feel that if you play well your salary should go up, but if you play poorly your salary should stay the same, then you…….

            When the players constantly hold the fans and management hostage, by stating or inferring that if they are not treated like royalty in every possible way, that they will not only leave at the first opportunity, but also spread the word that because you did not meet their financial demands that your “organization is not committed to winning” . This often forces ownership to cave or face a angry and depleting fan base, thus the owner has to realize that the CBA is the only ray of light, and once again showing that the players have truly have lost all touch with reality

            Embrace your bias, don’ t run from it!

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            Forgot the best one of all

            When your are angry at your boss for asking for about 10% back after giving you a 100% raise over the term of your last contract. Then you truly have lost touch with reality!

          • The Soup Fascist

            Weak!

            At least I took the time to respond to what I though was your lack of logic and common sense. And I type with one finger.

            On this point I find your arguments much like the players, pretentious, you also strike me as being rather a fastidious… lol . See I know big words too

            Cheers!

            P.s to bad about not responding I had rather looking forward to blowing your pro player rational out of the sky!

          • Hair bag

            I think sb is bang on. Come on Willis lets see your counter points, don’t shy away! Also maybe you can enlighten us on where you get your Florida is actually making money from the building facts from?

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    @willis

    Cheers. I checked the OKC website on my phone this morning over breakfast and didn’t see it. Even double checked agaisnt TSN. Be interested to see where he ends up at the quarter pole.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Maybe one more thing; creating a bigger gap between cap floor and ceiling will not only make the league less competitive, it will also increase the standard deviation of salaries. And that could either be good or bad….

  • book¡e

    Essentially, like most union actions, the individual players will never recoup the money they have given up. If they give up a whole season to get 1-2% more in the deal, it would take between 50 and 100 years of playing to make up what was lost.

  • Although I feel that Bettman has mishandled past negotiations, his current handling of this negotiations, makes his past look pretty good!

    As the good book says, there is a season for everything. Surely Bettman would/should have realized a long time ago, that his popularity amongst the players is essentially at zero……from a scale of 1 to 10, one being really really bad!

    If I knew this of myself, I would have resigned for the good of the game. I wonder if this would have happened, if we would have a deal on the table right now. If I also cared about the game and the fans, I would have included binding arbitration, as a default position, should both parties declare an impass.

    In spite of Bettman and how he has handled this situation, I can’t help but laugh at the NHLPA and how they feel they got screwed in the last deal. If the last deal was so bad why do they want to hang on to is so badly?

    Last time I checked in the news, people around the world are losing their jobs and abilities to provide for their famlies.

    These players need some context……..might I suggest the real world to them!

  • book¡e

    It’s been a while since I was on this site because there isn’t much hockey going on…really if sports were stocks, I’d be selling everything in hockey right now. I see the entire sport as one on the decline economically. The revenues had grown since the last lockout, but so had the costs. There are no more profitable teams than there were before and that’s what Bettman is trying to fix, mind you I don’t know that what he’s proposing really will fix the league.

    What would I buy? Soccer. North American soccer, because it’s a growth market. The buzz that surrounded my friends and colleagues around the Euro Cup earlier this year was much bigger than the Stanley Cup. What are the costs of maintaining the astro turf for soccer vs. the costs of flooding and freezing the ice? How much does it cost to maintain the temperatures in an indoor arena vs. letting the fans bundle up (I went to the grey cup last year, and while it’s not soccer, it’s an outdoor sport in the northernmost city in N. America at the end of November). You watch the Seattle Sounders games and it looks like it’s the Seahawks.

    It will take a long time, but I believe that soccer will overtake hockey in 10-15 years. Especially if the current CBA is only 7 years long and we deal with another spat down the road. And as of right now, it appears that the majority of the fan base is on side with the owners, and I might have a tough time cheering for Crosby ever again.

  • @ SB:

    Fine, if that’s the way you want it.

    Sure fight for what ever you can get, but when you are willing to loose a entire years salary of 1,000,000 or more just to prove that you are ENTITLED to make that much, you have lost touch with reality!

    Nobody has lost an entire year’s salary, yet. If there was a negotiations breakthrough this week, there could still be a 70 game season.

    They did lose a year in 2004-05 and lost the battle anyway; pretty much every player involved admits that the NHLPA blundered that year.

    When you are insulted by 47% of HR, but expect your bosses to live with that, you have lost touch with reality.

    The fundamental issue here, as I see it, is that the players simply don’t trust the owners numbers. For instance – the Florida Panthers supposedly lose ~$7.5 million per season, yet according to the Broward County auditor the team made ~$9 million less during the 2004-05 lockout than they averaged over the 5 year periods on either side of it. (Panthers LLLP is profitable, according to the same auditor). Another for instance: broadcast revenues can have up to 100% of their total value deducted before being reported as HRR, to allow for direct costs.

    In other words, the players’ angle is less “we expect to get more than 50% of the pot” and more “we think the NHL is lying through its teeth and already gets way more than they say they do.”

    When you expect the profitable franchises to share their profits with the other franchises so you can earn more millions than you have lost touch…..

    This has been a recent push by the NHLPA.

    In previous years, they’ve actually pushed hard for poor teams to be relocated to better markets – like the Atlanta to Winnipeg move. Basically, their problem is that poor teams act as a drag on player salaries league-wide – Toronto makes a mint but is limited in what it can spend because the Coyotes are bleeding red.

    When you say it’s the owners fault for signing these contracts and not controlling themselves, and then scream body murder when they use the CBA negotiation to try and reign in there spending, which is really the only legal and viable method of controlling salary. Then you….

    I’m pretty sure hte NHLPA has never screamed bloody murder about the owner’s inability to curtail their own spending. The NHLPA doesn’t mind that lack of self-control one bit.

    If you’re referring to me, I have no problem with the owners trying to institute a harsher cap. I’d do the same myself, because like everybody else I like to make money. I just don’t think there’s anything especially noble about it: it’s just self-interest.

    When your agent uses comparables to leverage your salary to they max and then whine about the NHL using the NFL and NBA as league comparables you have lost touch…..

    In arbitration, an entire field of comparables are used. Agents present favourable comparables; the team presents unfavourable comparables.

    This is exactly what has happened in these negotiations. MLB is a favourable comparable for the NHLPA, so they use it. NBA and NFL are favourable comparables for the league, so they use them instead.

    I have no idea where your issue lies here.

    When you whine that the owners should honour the contracts they have signed, yet you know full well that all contracts are legally linked to the CBA then you…..

    The league’s coming off seven years of record revenue. The players’ perspective is that there’s no need for the kind of rollbacks that came about last time – the system isn’t so out of whack that it needs huge rollbacks to correct problems.

    It’s also, in my view, entirely fair to be miffed when a rollback is proposed in September on a contract you signed in June. I know I would be. I’d do everything I could to stop it. If I couldn’t stop it, I’d live with it, but I’d grumble. I think pretty much anybody would feel the same.

    When you whine about honouring contracts knowing full well that many of your brethren have demanded trades or found loop holes, or not lived up to their responsibilities, then you have lost….

    I see your point, but it doesn’t make sense to me. If, for example, I’m Jarome Iginla why should I be blamed for Chris Pronger demanding a trade? For that matter, what’s wrong with making a trade request if you’re unhappy with where you are? The team can always refuse, and suspend you if you decline to report (at which point you start losing money).

    When you call a team that makes 15 million in a boom year which is less then a 10% return on investment a “have” team that should share its wealth then you have lost……

    I think you’re referring to the Oilers here. If so:

    – They’ve been profitable every year since the lockout, according to the best publicly available data.

    – I’d love to see all these investments you people find that are returning more than 10%. Seriously. Where did this idea come from?

    – Given that the Oilers collected revenue sharing when they were struggling to stay afloat, why is it immoral for them to share revenue when they’re doing well?

    When the players refuse to realize the owners and GM’s are just as competitive as the players and they will always look for that competitive edge ( CBA loopholes) just as the players see what they can get away with inside a hockey game, yet the players will still point the finger, showing once again that they have ………

    What are you talking about? Can you cite one instance of the players complaining about NHL G.M.’s circumventing the CBA?

    When you feel that if you play well your salary should go up, but if you play poorly your salary should stay the same, then you…….

    Ummm…. what? What are you talking about? Of course, every player wants the best contract that he can get. But when players have bad years, their next contracts reflect that. When they have good years their next contracts reflect that, too.

    When the players constantly hold the fans and management hostage, by stating or inferring that if they are not treated like royalty in every possible way, that they will not only leave at the first opportunity, but also spread the word that because you did not meet their financial demands that your “organization is not committed to winning” . This often forces ownership to cave or face a angry and depleting fan base, thus the owner has to realize that the CBA is the only ray of light, and once again showing that the players have truly have lost all touch with reality

    You need to give some examples here. I have yet to see an ‘I wasn’t treated like royalty, so Team X isn’t committed to winning and I want a trade’ press conference. Pretty sure it’s never happened.

    When your are angry at your boss for asking for about 10% back after giving you a 100% raise over the term of your last contract. Then you truly have lost touch with reality!

    I’m not sure if you’ve ever received a 100% raise before, but I have. Over five years at my first professional job, my pay more than doubled. And yes, I would have been miffed if my employer demanded an immediate 10% deduction in my salary – particularly if he was coming off record profits for seven straight years.

    • Hair bag

      EXPOSED ! Mission accomplished…congratulations, you are officially now a player groupie, which is fine, but please quit hiding behind this fake vail of objectivity.

      I started to chew through most of your replies but then realized it would be like telling a rock star groupie that the bulge was just a sock. I don’t want to wreck the dream just yet.

      P.s Thanks for the replies however some of them… I don’t even think you really read what I wrote …oh we’ll, one final irony I came across. The players gave up an entire years salary fighting against a system they seem willing to loose another years salary to keep, but ya they have not lost touch with reality

      Sorry for late reply,I was out of touch, much like the players

  • DSF

    The players and the league are both fighting not just for this CBA but as the starting point for the one beyond that. The contract restrictions when taken as a whole are designed to keep the younger players making less money, forcing the return of cheaper second contracts, allowing teams to hold onto their drafted talent longer for cheaper. If the league gets those restrictions now then the next negotiation will start from that point and get worse.