MAKE A DEAL: THE SILENT MAJORITY?

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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?

MalkinCrosby1

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.

  • 24% body fat

    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.

      • PutzStew

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

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

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

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

  • Truth

    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.

  • oilabroad

    If Fehr was as smart as DSF says, he would have this whole thing worked out to the penny in terms of what the lockout is costing the players/day, and would have told them to sign the first real offer that came in from the owners last month as once they hit December the offer would have to be so much better that break even was no longer an option…
    If Fehr was smart, he would explain to Crosby and his colleagues in the top 5% that once the make whole had been settled the rest of this cba does not affect you due to the long term contract you already have…
    the bottom 50% this doesn’t affect you as you will either not be in the league long enough or you will always be near the salary floor
    this is really about 25% of the players… 75% of the players losing half or even a full season is simply not money well spent for the DIFFERENCE that is the pissing contest we are witnessing today…

    • DSF

      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.

      • oilabroad

        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

  • oilabroad

    The drama in these negotiations is so utterly predictable. I speak from experience when is come to dealing with unions………I have never been involved with any union that is actually does the right thing, even if it is starring them right in the face.

    If the union was so interested in labour peace, they would recognize that the last deal they signed actually benefitted them. They would recognize that they are very privileged to be playing a sport most of us pay to play, and that their earnings are way beyond the average persons wildest imaginations. In other words they would act like thankful humans and negotiate accordingly or in good faith.

    The NHLPA is a farce of a union, ( since when do millionaires need a union to represent them) and most fans know this and are starting to see the NHLPA for what it is………a dysfunctional bunch of uneducated pampered athletes who think they are more important than the average person.

    Now in fairness to the silent majority of the good NHLPA members, if the last deal was put to a vote……..we would be playing right now!

  • smiliegirl15

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

    Fehr is no friend of hockey.

    • DSF

      This is just hooey.

      The players have already agreed to massive concessions.

      Agreed to share of HRR down from 57% to 50%.

      Agreed to limits on contract length when none existed previously.

      Agreed to “make whole” that was less than the 100% the owners agreed to when they signed those long term contracts of their own free will.

      And, here is part of the memo Fehr emailed to players last night:

      Individual SPC (standard player contract) length and Variability of SPCs: The Owners have proposed (i) a limit of 5 years, except that Players who re-sign with their Clubs could contract for 7 years, and (ii) a 5% limit on year-to-year salary variability in long-term deals.

      We believe that these restrictions would devastate the “middle class” of players and result in the NBA model, where a few players earn huge salaries while pushing everyone else down toward the minimum.

      (Their proposal would also undermine the free-agent market by giving a significant advantage to Clubs that want to re-sign their own Players.)

      Moreover, in spite of our concerns, in order to close the deal we moved from of our last offer (a 10-year limit and no limit on variability) and instead proposed an 8-year limit on all SPCs and a variability limit of 25% over the term of the SPC, applied to contracts of 7 years or longer.

  • DSF

    DSF: You know full well that those things the NHL “agreed to” are now off the table. Trouble is that Fehr said he doesn’t know what that means. Really he does know what that means but he’s going to try to spin things such that those things are still on the table. Strategically speaking the NHL has to keep those concessions off the table until the PA puts its concessions on the table.

    I don’t think the PA will and Bettman is not Neville Chamberlain. There will not be any peace in our time.

  • DSF

    It really is starting to sound like Fehr and a few superstars are tanking this season. I really agree that a group of millionaires hardly need union representation, as their labour is not being marginalized or exploited by their employers. The fact that they made 57% of the revenue demonstrates that. If they made 2%, I could see the need for a union.

    I am so far happy that most of the Oilers are either playing abroad, or in OKC, and do not seem to be mixed up in this, and just want to play hockey.

  • DSF

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

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

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

  • A-Mc

    As far as i’m concerned, the only legislation that needs to be put in place is to prevent against contracts like Ryan Suter’s. That front loaded crap needs to go.

    If a team wants a goalie at 4mill/yr for the next 10 years then let them have him. But that goalie better be getting paid ~$4/mill per year.

    Year to year salary variations in the low 5% is a good idea imo. leave the term alone or atleast concede on allowing 8-10year terms.

  • stevezie

    for everyone stating that the players have already made massive concessions….who cares.

    how hard of a concept is it to understand which side should and does run the show.

    there is no right or wrong, fair or unfair. owners, own.

    i hope they bury the players, because they can.

    as well DSF your assumption that Fehr has somehow outsmarted Bettman will be proven to be false. imo. Fehr bit of more than he could chew here.

    • OilClog

      Burying the players in this day and age only buries the game itself. Where is this so called NHL? All I see are KHL, AHL, and other highlights. I see endless amounts of basketball, football action all over. Hell even baseball news is more exciting at the moment. Owners own yes, but what are they owning? You can’t build the brand in a battle of greed, the worst thing the owners could do to themselves is shutting the league down. My attention is being grabbed by all sorts of other sports and my passion is being divided as a result.

      Way to go Owners.

      • The Soup Fascist

        i know it will bury the game for the near future. this league has to right itself. as a “former” die hard fan i’m not happy about this either. certainly not, tho, an owner problem.

    • DSF

      Could be, but I doubt it.

      While the players are certainly taking a financial hit, you have to remember that teams like the Leafs, Rangers, Montreal, Vancouver, Philly and Chicago are taking massive hits to their bottom line.

      If we agree that the Oilers, Flames, Winnipeg etc. are marginally profitable, their owners aren’t really giving up that much and, of course the perennial money losers are doing okay (without reference to how badly they are damaging their fragile fan bases).

      You say that “running the show” is the all important factor here but you’re thinking this is just another run of the mill labour dispute between management and workers.

      It isn’t.

      You have to remember the players are the PRODUCT and without them, there is no show.

      The owners are free to replace them at any time but we’ve seen in the NFL that the public is not willing to pay for a much downgraded product.

        • DSF

          They will continue to be the product no matter what.

          As I said in my original post, I believe this whole scenario was scripted by Bettman, Daly and Proskauer Rose to come to a conclusion this week with the NHL wringing every possible concession out of the players by today and then allowing for the season to start around Christmas.

          You can bet your bottom dollar Fehr knows this and is the reason he flipped Gary the bird yesterday.

          As you no doubt saw, Bettman was furious that his strategy got derailed and I would think he will do some irrational things in the next few days.

          All the while, I am also sure Fehr has a drop dead date in mind but he’s going play to his own script, not Bettman’s.

          Should be interesting to see if the NHL cancels another block of games today.

          • 416oil

            I never comment but I see you troll everywhere. Your one argument is that the middle class is going to get hurt and you are exactly right, that is who the NHL is trying to go after in this lockout. They will always pay the stars no matter what the term or price is, but when you have marginal players making $3+ million a year this is why the NHL is not a profitable league beyond the top 8 teams. When players are signing $100+ million contracts and franchises like St Louis and Columbus are worth just north of $100 million you have serious problems with balance. You say the middle class can get paid better else where I find that highly unlikely that most 3rd or 4th line NHL players would be able to get $1.5 million + in other leagues which is more in line to what their true value should be.

            One way both the NHL and NHLPA could solve this, but the players will never agree to is to have non-guaranteed contracts. There would have to be no capped limit in terms of length because if said player signs a 13 year 120 million dollar deal and then mailed it in on his performance, or injuries take a toll on performance then teams can drop said player, and pay a new player to take his place. This works out better for both the league and the players as more players are going to get paid and teams have a sense of security for the dollars they are investing into the players. Players will still have the motivation to perform at the highest of levels and if not well you can bet there will be someone begging for the opportunity to take his place. Yes, this will hurt some players, but their is always guaranteed portions of non-guaranteed contracts. Seems to be working quite well in the NFL and it is both finically secure and highly competitive.

          • 416oil

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

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

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

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

            *Maybe* cooler heads will prevail.

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

          • DSF

            I expect you’re right.

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

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

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

          • DSF

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

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

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

            That Horcoff contract just keeps on giving 🙂

            Who could have seen that coming?

  • stevezie

    The PA boosters on here are right about one thing- the PA have made all the concessions. This lockout is about making things better for the owners, there is no pushback in the other direction. I have no idea how anyone can argue ot the contrary.

    I just don’t think it matters who has conceded what to this point- unless legally binding mediationj is brought in, and it won’t be.

  • RomRox

    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!

      • DSF

        So if they arent employees, they’re partners? If they are partners, why is it that some players make more than owners?

        There are owners losing money (thats a fact), are the players losing money (when they’re playing, obviously)? I dont think so.

        50/50? Ya right!

        • DSF

          They are neither partners nor employees.

          They are the “product”.

          The owners, especially with the cost certainty THEY demanded in the last CBA have only themselves to blame if they are losing money.

          It was the owners who paid too much for the “product” and it was the owners who accepted all that expansion fee cash when Bettman expanded the league into cities that are not supporting the NHL.

          Now, you can certainly argue the players are taking too much of the pie and I agree with you, but characterizing them as the bad guys here is nonsense.

          They signed the contracts that were offered to them under terms which the OWNERS insisted on.

          I don’t disagree the system needs tweaking but suggesting the players just sit down, hang on and shut up because the owners have screwed up the system is unrealistic.

          • stevezie

            I can appreciate the players are the product.

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

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

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

          • 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,

          • DSF

            Thanks.

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

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

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

          • PutzStew

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

  • Rogue

    The owners take all the risk here. From 43% to 50% is still not enough for the owners. Why don’t the players buy the NHL and run it themselves? By the way they talk, it is a walk in the park. Bunch of uneducated, pampered boys with a skill.

    Fehr has screwed the pooch. Him being at the meeting and going in front of the media, proclaiming what was going to happen, has left him looking bad,bad, bad. I think he was trying to intimidate the owners with his stunt and it blew up in his face.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    The players are NOT selfish. They’re stupid. If they were selfish they would not be brainwashed into believing that they are fighting for the future. The average NHL career is five years. Losing one season is potentially losing 20% of your career earning. Stop fighting for the future, fight for your present you idiots!

  • A-Mc

    You cant debate the reasoning behind NHL finances because the entire system is just MESSED.

    Like Gregor often says, the only way for all of this to work out smoothly and start to make sense to the logical mind is for the entire system to implode and start from scratch.

    • DSF

      If it comes to that, I would like to see the Canadian franchises withdraw from the league and create a new league with teams in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Markham/Hamilton, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

      With a new Canadian television contract up next year and by paying their players in Canadian dollars, the new league should thrive and could repatriate the Stanley Cup.

      As feeble American franchises failed, the quality of players in the new Canadian league would be tremendous.

      Just dreaming I guess.

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

    • A-Mc

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

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

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

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

      BUT

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

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

      • DSF

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

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

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

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

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