Email
Print
Email
Print

NHL CBA standoff hints at nuclear winter

Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he has unanimous lockout support from the owners, who remained unseen after their meeting but in a hardline stance that may well get harder during a prolonged stoppage. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

By Stu Hackel

Don Fehr stood with 283 of his closest friends. Gary Bettman stood alone.

A never-ending line of NHL players filed into the conference room like a Midwestern freight train that keeps you parked at a railway crossing for half an hour. About 30 of them walked on stage — Zdeno Chara stood behind Sidney Crosby and you could really see how huge Chara is — while another 250 stood off to the side. Fehr joined them and, in the same way that a tough guy on your team will make everyone play bigger, the impressive show of support made the NHLPA leader seem nearly as big as Chara.

A little later and several blocks away, Bettman walked into a much smaller room and stood alone at a black podium in front of a black backdrop that each had a lone NHL crest on it. He’s not a tall man to begin with and standing by himself didn’t make him appear any larger.

However, as bracing as the contrast between these two sights was, the bottom line remained unchanged: We’re still looking at an NHL lockout when Sunday rolls around.

It was a noteworthy pair of events on Thursday in New York, with the NHLPA wrapping up two days of meetings while the NHL Board of Governors gathered at another midtown hotel close by. In dueling news conferences, each side made its case, and each side sounded convincing. A number of my fellow journalists with whom I attended agreed: You listen to Fehr speak about why his membership feels the league’s offer is not fair and what he says makes a lot of sense. Then you walk uptown three blocks and listen to Bettman throw out a blizzard of numbers that lays out the owners’ case and he makes compelling points, too. If nothing else, you must conclude that each side has good leadership (and that’s the point of this recommended story by Dave Naylor on TSN.ca).

But, there is something else: Even putting the economics aside for a moment, there are significant points of differentiation and they can’t be ignored. First, the players are willing to report to training camp, play the schedule and continue to negotiate. They make the case that the lockout would be a choice made by ownership, not something they must do. Bettman’s position is that the owners won’t operate even one extra day under the terms of the old agreement. He continually insists — and says he has insisted to Fehr for months — that the union will be locked out if no new deal is reached by 11:59 PM Saturday.

The owners may believe that their stance is necessary because they suspect that if they start the season and negotiations drag, the players will strike. It seems more as if they are trying to train a dog to heel. The fact is that the threat of a lockout has been hovering over these talks from the outset and this league for at least a year, long before anyone slid a formal proposal across a table to the other side. It’s not a new development and it doesn’t create the kind of atmosphere that’s conducive to forging a deal, at least not one that purports to be fair to both sides.

And that leads to the second point of differentiation: How fair is what the owners have proposed to the players? Fehr emphasized that in his remarks to the media.

He said, “I was asked the following question by the players a lot yesterday and it came up today and it’s the most obvious question when you look at the (owners’) proposal that is in front of us, which is, ‘What’s in this for the players?’ What do they get out of this agreement? In the last agreement, there was at least significant movement in the player’s direction on the player contracting issues, things like salary arbitration and free agency. But what’s on the table now appears to say we have to have the salary concessions all over again, plus, we have to go in the owners’ direction on all the player contracting issues and undo all that portion of the last agreement, either. Less money, fewer rights.”

“I think everybody understands why the owners would like that; every employer would like that. I have a more difficult time understanding why anybody would expect the players to make an agreement on that basis.”

Bettman was asked in his press briefing to comment on Fehr’s formulation of “Less money, fewer rights.”

He responded, “I didn’t hear his press conference, I was in a board meeting, so I don’t think it’s constructive to comment on something I didn’t hear myself. But if that’s what he said, that’s what he said. Obviously, we’re going to disagree on lots of things.”

For once, it wasn’t a satisfactory answer by Bettman, who can be quite thorough in his responses. It was a dodge of what the players consider a very key point. What inducement do they have to accept ownership’s proposal? If you want to conclude a successful negotiation, especially one where you are asking for significant concessions, it is wise to at least offer the other side something. If Bettman disagrees with Fehr on this and believes the owners are offering the players something, I don’t think anyone — especially the players — knows what it is.

The sides have widely different approaches to a new CBA and vastly different interpretations of each other’s arithmetic. But the distinct impression one gets from these two main non-economic points of differentiation — the continual threat of a lockout and the absence of any concessions to the players — is that the owners may not really want to make a deal other than one that is entirely favorable to them. It’s worth asking, at what point does hard bargaining becomes no bargaining?

The owners have some very real-world concerns about the health of some franchises and they may believe that the only solution is to cut players’ salaries (or it could also be, as my SI.com confrere Al Muir wrote Thursday, “They’re looking for a cash grab because, well, the NBA and NFL got sweet new deals, so they want one, too;” you can decide for yourself which you believe — and maybe it’s both). But a unilateral approach to bargaining isn’t likely to work. What it will do is inflict damage everywhere — to players, to fans, to the game and even to the owners themselves and their ability to grow the business, which until now had been progressing in a truly impressive fashion since the last lockout.

Asking for the moon and the stars and now only revising the request by cutting out some constellations is designed to do one thing: Get the players to fold. The league has already circulated the word that once the players miss eight regular season games, they will have forfeited the same amount of pay that they’ll lose if they accept the owners’ latest proposal. Waiting the players out worked in 2004-05 and a lot of observers are convinced that’s how things will go this time.

You didn’t get that impression while talking with players yesterday. I asked Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who was an NHLPA VP for the last lockout, how the union is different now. He had strong praise for Fehr’s leadership, his involving more players in decisions and discussion, his efforts to educate them about the issues. I overheard another player telling a reporter how last time, players would come to a meeting like this and it would be the first time they’d hear about the issues. Fehr’s travels have resulted in numerous previous meetings and discussions and, the player said, everyone now is thoroughly familiar with the issues and the negotiations. So this time may be different.

A number of players also believe that the unity of ownership is not as solid as last time. TSN’s Bob McKenzie said he’s heard players contend that as many as 15 or 20 clubs really want to start the season on time. It seems hard to fathom, although it’s impossible to know with Bettman tightly controlling communications. But some of the players think it’s so and they’re now banking on ownership folding.

Speaking Friday morning on Montreal’s TSN Radio 690 (formerly TSN 990, formerly Team 990 — that great radio station has had almost as many identity changes as Bob Dylan), McKenzie told Morning Show hosts Elliot Price, Shawn Starr and Ted Bird that there is also an overwhelming feeling among the players that they gave up a lot to ownership last time and they’re not going to do it again. He spoke of Aaron Ward, now his TSN colleague, who went through the last lockout and lost his $2 million salary.

McKenzie relayed Ward’s thoughts on player unity: “He said, ‘As a player, you know this is going on and you see your season flashing before your eyes and you’re about to lose all your money, you just suck it up and you say, you know what? Guys did it in ’95, guys did it in 2005 and now it’s my turn. It’s a generational thing. It’s one of the crosses you bear for being part of the NHLPA and being paid the money you do, and every so often you have to go fight with the owners and you give things up for the sake of the players’ unity and the Players Association.’ And so you just do it because that’s what hockey players do. It’s almost like being part of a team and being told you got to get up there and block shots on penalties and you don’t get any glory for it. That’s kind of the mentality the players have now.”

Whether they’ll still have that mentality in a month, or two months, is the big question.

By then, however, things will be dire all over, not just among the players. And Bettman has said the offers by ownership will get worse, not better, once the lockout starts. Yesterday, Fehr would not rule out a stiffening of the players’ position as well, including calling for the elimination of the salary cap (ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun has more on that here), which — as we’ve discussed before — he is philosophically against, and probably has the players thinking that way, too.

Asked what he thought of the players putting the cap back on the table, Bettman responded, “That certainly wouldn’t be a positive development in these negotiations.”

It’s not even autumn yet, but we’re already getting a glimpse of hockey’s nuclear winter.

COMMENTING GUIDELINES: We encourage engaging, diverse and meaningful commentary and hope you will join the discussion. We also encourage, but do not require, that you use your real name. Please keep comments on-topic and relevant to the original post. To foster healthy discussion, we will review all comments BEFORE they are posted. We expect a basic level of civility toward each other and the subjects of this blog. Disagreements are fine, but mutual respect is a must. Comments will not be approved if they contain profanity (including the use of abbreviations and punctuation marks instead of letters); any abusive language or personal attacks including insults, name-calling, threats, harassment, libel and slander; hateful, racist, sexist, religious or ethnically offensive language; or efforts to promote commercial products or solicitations of any kind, including links that drive traffic to your own website. Flagrant or repeat offenders run the risk of being banned from commenting.

  • Published On Sep 14, 2012
  • 45 comments
    sinhue34
    sinhue34

    Bottom Line:  The last time there was a baseball stoppage, Don Fehr was the player rep.  He's not a negotiator.  He's a  obstruction.

    Sinhue

    Alex12
    Alex12

    I never understood the concept of having a union when all the employees are contract labour? Each player (agent) needs to negociate their own contracts.

     

    rick.roubos
    rick.roubos

    atsirk58, when you mention averages don't forget the average length of career of a professional athlete.

     

    Robb
    Robb

    If the owners really wanted to solve the problem, there are a couple of things that make sense, but they don't want to really handle the situation.

    1) Contraction - Nashville, Columbus, Anaheim, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, and... maybe the NY Islanders (just trying to get an even number). Too many teams in markets that can't support them.

    2) A salary cap with a luxury tax 30-40%

     

    These are just a couple of ideas off the top of my head...

    JIM20
    JIM20

    All sports are so over rated.  I stopped taking the kids to the games when it cost me more than 2 days wages.  Just not worth it.  Seriously, these guys are paid way too much, the owners have become so greedy, TV has not helped the sport at all.  Time to just shut them all down.

    PaulLaPerriere
    PaulLaPerriere

    Send Bettman BACK to the NBA.  He has ruined the sport of Hockey ever since he came to it.  It is about time for HOPE and CHANGE in Hockey...and it can only be done with Bettman stepping down.  All he cares about it money...thus the rapid expansion of the league that has FAILED miserably.  Time to make less teams, and get more quality players...less goons...and more scoring.  The NHL just signed a 10yr agreement with NBC...and this will ultimately kill that...so once again...no TV time for people who dont have a local NHL team nearby.  It is getting ridiculous that the owners continue to sign players for mega bucks, yet complain about the money aspect.  Dont sign them...force them to want less.  Both sides are greedy, but the owners have continually gotten greedier and the sport is dwindling more and more...people will walk away!  GET BETTMAN OUT!

    JohnJaynes
    JohnJaynes

    We are cancelling our NHL Center Ice Ticket today. We are done for the season. Maybe for good. The Players are willing to play while negotiations continue. The Owners could negotiate a concession that any agreement reached be retroactive to September 16, 12:01 AM. This invalidates the Owner's bluster about "not working one more second on the current contract". We stand with the Players, and hope they all go over to Europe and other leagues, and see what is left of the NHL in a year from now. Better yet, start their own league here.

     

    Voicing my opinion with the pocketbook,

     

    John

     

    P.S. Too much greed and barbarity in this world, and the Owners just added a little more.

    atsirk58
    atsirk58

    Dear NHL Players,

     

    So, I see you are going to strike again.  Well, here are a few facts for your consideration:

     

    1.  PARADE Magazine last year reported that the average salary in the United States is $37,000 per year.

    2. Many of you make more than 100 times if not 200 times the national average.

    3.  I live in the Raleigh market.  The Hurricanes are terrible.... yet despite them being terrible, ticket prices continue to rise.

    4.  A reasonably good seat is $76 plus the famed "convenience fee" which brings the ticket price to nearly $90.  So a family of four if they only went to the game and parked is out $400.  If they actually buy an overpriced food item,.. the price for one weekday hockey game is $500.

    5.  Of course, you would not know all this silliness.  You of course get coddled in luxury.  You have great pre and post game meals, masseurs, the best medical care on the planet and much more.

     

    I will remind you  that last year in many arenas, seats went empty.  Those empty seats should concern you very much.  After this foolishness is over, there will indeed be many more seats.

     

    I see you  hired the legend in his own mind Donald Fehr.  Well betwen he and Bettman, I think they will bury this sport a long six feet under.

     

    It is my fervent hope that many of you will regain your sanity, and understand what you have.

     

    If not, it is my second fervent hope that you will soon be skating on a glassy pond all by yourself, as you  too return to the reality of a $37,000 per year salary.

     

    As for me, in will be a cold day in Hades before I EVER step foot in an NHL arena again.

    GlennPenneyJr.
    GlennPenneyJr.

    Really, again, hockey never recovered from the last strike. I love hockey, a fast aggressive sport, but the players and owners are blind at what they mean to the average viewer. Which is nothing much, with football, basketball and baseball on Tv more and more, just look at the NFL's Tv lineup, sport fans don't really miss hockey. The players need to understand that they risk a lot but will not make the money the other athletes make in other sports. It sucks to miss hockey again, if things keep going this direction, hockey will disappear from this country and hockey fans will be watching the Euopean leagues on Tv.

    NukeSciTeach
    NukeSciTeach

    to its419:

    If you think that fighting is the reason behind lack of viewers, you are not understanding the situation.  The lack of viewers is the fact that hockey is only in areas WHERE IT IS COLD! (or have brought in a professional team).  Look at where hockey is the most popular (the northern climates).  Add to the fact that many people don't watch the finals because their team isn't there.  Personal note: I'm a Pens fan, my wife is a RedWings fan.  We pretty much stopped watching the playoffs after our teams didn't make it to the finals.  Viewership will go down due to lack of interest. In addition, hockey doesn't nor will it every be as big in the US as football.  Football is EVERYWHERE. That is why it has a huge following. 

    But your point is made...is fighting NECESSARY in hockey...no, but it is a part of it.  

    Gus
    Gus

    Why should the players, in any sport, get contracts worth more than 50% of the money collected?  The players have no financial risk should the money train stop - they have their contracts.  The owners have significant overhead that still has to be covered come rain  or shine.

    NBFORG
    NBFORG

    I think its time we as fans have a say, come join The NBF!

     

    www national brotherhood of fans com

    its419
    its419

    You want to grow the game quickly, with the least amount of pain to owners and players? Ban fighting. Double your total viewers in one year. Twice as many eyeballs on your ads without spending one single penny above what you would anyway.

     

    Yes, I'm aware that if you ask current hockey fans, some are quite vocal in their opposition to this. They are willing to hold back the entire industry rather than admit they like boxing or MMA more than the sport of hockey.

     

    Just look at the numbers. Almost 30 million North American people tuned in to watch the final between the Canadian and US teams during the 2010 Olympics. (The numbers vary depending on the source, but it seems to have been about 12 million in the US, and about 18 million in Canada.)

     

    Compare that to the Stanley Cup final last year. 3 million viewers per game in the US, about 5 million per game in Canada. Again, the numbers vary, but the plain facts are that the entire 2012 final had less viewers, significantly less, than one Olympic hockey game featuring a lot of the same players. Forget anything the NHL has ever put forth. You have to go back to the 1980 Miracle on Ice to find viewer totals like that.

     

    So what's the difference? Part of it may be the rarity of Olympic games, the national spirit it brings. Though that didn't send Salt Lake City's numbers off the charts, 2002 and 2006 did draw more viewers than the Stanley Cup has been able to muster in those same years.

     

    So maybe it's just that the Olympics ban fighting. They have no enforcers, because they aren't necessary. Every line is the skill line. And that's what the silent majority of fans would prefer to see.

     

    Sure, the people who have supported pro hockey so far may complain. Some of them may even stop watching and switch to MMA or boxing or even the WWE, and they probably should if that's the level of violence they want to support.

     

    But fans of the sport of hockey will see the game is improved without fighting and stay. And all the people who want to watch hockey, but hate to see fights and cheap hits determining the outcome, will finally be able to say "This is a product I can support with my time and my money."

     

    Other professional hockey leagues around the world refuse to risk the health of their players by encouraging fighting. No other American leagues allow fighting, either. You're going to have players coming out of college who have never had to deal with it. It's inevitable. Why prolong the matter when it could save the league right now?

    G
    G

    The poor franchises - and there are only 6-8 franchises that have really great revenue streams - rely mostly on gate for revenue, so they really lose when games are lost.  Let us hope this financial pressure works in favor of the players.  The players are why we watch, they should not get under 50% of the money.  The current 57% seems quite fair.  If to have a league, the richest 6-8 franchises need to share more $ with the poorest 6-8, then let the sharing begin.

    phillybluz
    phillybluz

    i hope all the players go to europe to play and tell the owners to shove it.

    imagine, every player with a new career in the EU and the owners having to start from scratch.

    wouldn't that be a trip....end the league as we know it.

    too bad, too greedy.

    matthewstrubel
    matthewstrubel

    I can't see the NHL ever contracting. Stu, being closer to the situation, what are the chances that they'd throw in the towel in cities instead of relocating?

     

    And a lighter question, how will you be filling time normally reserved for hockey?

    scBlais
    scBlais

    If this goes long like in 2004, the players will fold.  Simple reason is the vast majority of NHL owners do not make their primary money from their teams.  Their teams are at best a secondary business that they do not rely on to make profit (though they would of course like to make a profit).  Players, need to play to get paid.  Yes the big name stars have the resources to sit out, but the majority of the players do not have that luxury.

    The players are saying the same thing they did in 2004 about how strong they are and their willingness to stick together through this.  If this gets to January, the players will fold.

    WTFNHL
    WTFNHL

    If you're upset about this - come to "We The Fans of the NHL" (http://www.WTFNHL.com) and tell us your thoughts.  We're a Fan's union looking to broadcast your side of the story!  Follow us on Twitter @WTFNHL!

    atsirk58
    atsirk58

     @rick.roubos

     You do make a geat point.... but I bet if someone walked up to you today and said...  I will give you $3 million dollars BUT you have to make it last for the rest of your life.. I bet you would give that deal serious consideration.

     

    I do not buy the length of service argument... because a player makes a deliberate decision to enter the draft.... I have yet to see a rope of any kind dragging players to any draft for any league.

     

    But each person is entitled to their own views of course.  I prsonally think that the NHL is headed for a very, very rocky future.  The argument is how do players and owners split $3 Billion dollars...... a rich man's agrument for a game I think is in serious trouble.

    G
    G

     @atsirk58 How many wage earners gave up 10+ years of their childhood/teen years for a long shot chance at being a pro athlete?  How many average wage earners face the prospect of broken bones, destroyed joints and concussions on a daily basis?  How many average wage earners are one the best 690  in the world at what they do?  If you're a world class anything - hockey player, computer programmer, accountant, salesman, engineer - you are making way more than $37K.

     

    And why shouldn't the men who actually play - as opposed to the members of the 0.1% richest people in the world club, who are owners - get a strong chunk of the dollars?

     

    You got better things to watch?  See ya.

    Dan12
    Dan12

     @atsirk58 I'd also like to add that I would sign a petition to kick Gary Bettman off his throne as this is the 3rd stoppage under his watch. Clinton was impeached for less.

    Robb
    Robb

     @atsirk58 Actually, it is a lockout, not a strike. And if you look at what the owners are trying to do, you would understand why the players won't acceept the deal. The last time, the owners complained that salaries were out of hand. They basically broke the players and got their final offer accepted with very little benefit for the players. Now, they complain about the deal they made. Maybe, just maybe, if they stopped giving out $100,000,000 contracts and stopped expanding into bad markets they wouldn't be in such bad shape. But instead of fiscal responsibility, they want to make it the players' fault. Sometimes I wonder how these guys made enough money to buy an NHL team with their poor business decisions.

     

    James C
    James C

    The players on not going on strike. Maybe you should know what you are talking about before you start typing.

     

    The owners have locked out the players. The players did not vote to go on strike. The CBA ended at midnight and the owners locked the doors to prevent the players from accessing the teams facilities. That is not a strike.

     

    If you look back at most recent labor disputes in professional sports, they have not been strikes. The 2011 NFL and NBA disputes were both lockouts not strikes. The 2004-2005 NHL dispute was a lockout, not a strike. The 1994 labor dispute was a lockout as well.

     

    The last time  the NHL players went on strike was 1992, which lasted 10 days from April 1st to April 10th. That strike, which was called after playing nearly a full season without a CBA in place, lead to changes in free agency, playoff bonuses, and arbitratgion.

     

    The last time any major professional sports union went on strike was the 1994 baseball strike. Every other labor action taken since then was the result of the owners closing the doors on the players. The owners of these teams are generally making substantial money off these teams despite what the owners of the teams say.

     

    As an example, the average ticket price at Joe Louis Arena is roughly $60.00 per ticket. The team had attendance of 824706 for it's 41 home games. That means the team netted almost 50 million dollars just from ticket sales last season. That amount does not include the revenue from the television deals, the revenue from the stadium advertisers, or the revenue from the concession stands that sell vastly overpriced food and drink items (with that I agree).

     

    The owners of these teams are not going to the poor house because they own NHL teams, they act like they are, but they really are not.

     

    The NHL owners face two problems.

     

    First, Bettman and his ego have caused more harm to the league than the entire NHLPA has ever done. His decision making as commissioner lead the NHL has lead them to be by far the 4th North American franchise behind the NFL, NBA, and MLB. H

     

    Second, they have a sport that has a limited demographic, however they feel it should fit all over. The owners who have teams in hockey hotbeds like Miami, Tampa, Anahiem, and Phoenix should understand why the teams doesn't do well.

     

    It is these cities that are struggling and bringing the entire league down.

     

    During the 2011-2012 season there were 30 NHL teams. Over those teams, 16 of them had attendance at 100 percent or more of the listed attendance for the season. Another 5 of them had attendance at 95% of capacity or better for the season. The cities that did not have at least 95% capacity for the season were: Florida (86.6%), Carolina (85.9%), Colorado (86.1%), New Jersey (87.4%), Anahiem (86.4%), Columbus (80.0%), Dallas (76.8%), New York Islanders (81.3%), and Phoenix (72.5%). The only cities on that list that have had sustained hockey success but struggle with attendance are the Devils. Every other team on that list is on the list in large part because they are in areas that don't support hockey well anyway.

     

    Let's look at this another way. If you own a boatyard in Nebraska chances are you are going to do well financially. The demand just isn't there. The same thing is true with the NHL franchises. If you own won in Florida, Texas, or Arizona, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle because you are not in the traditionally hockey area.

     

    The Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg because they couldn't cut it financially in Atlanta. What happened? They were 25th in attenance last season, not a big upgrade from their Atlanta days rank wise, but they averaged 100% capacity for their games. The only reason they were 25th is the stadium that play in is small and limits capacity. The team moved to a hockey area and things drastically improved.

     

    The simple fact is, instead of locking out the players, the owners need to look at their business model and see why it isn't successful and adjust the business model. It would start with teams moving to Quebec, and Seattle instead of Phoenix and Florida. Add in the often proposed move to Hamilton, and the NHA might be able to get back on track.

     

    The simple fact is the NHL's model of trying to compete with the big sports isn't working. They need to move where the fan base is, not attempt to create a fanbase where it doesn't exist.  

    James C
    James C

    They recovered from the last strike just fine. That was in 1992. They have not recovered from the last labor dispute, which was a LOCKOUT, not a strike.

    Kate O
    Kate O

     @NukeSciTeach This hockey fan watches the Finals with or without my team.  I love hockey first, my team second.  My team had never won a Cup before this season and yet, I never missed a game in all those years, never missed a Finals in all those years, never stopped watching hockey just because my team wasn't playing.  As I see it, there are fans of hockey and then everyone else.  Fans of hockey watch the Finals, period.

    DarrellBryant
    DarrellBryant

     @Gus Why shouldn't they get more than 50% of the revenue?  They are the game... the owners aren't.

    JoeCabot
    JoeCabot

     @NBFORG You want to have a say?  When the games do begin again, stay away in droves.   There have been comments made that basically say that the entire organization takes fans for granted, and if you start attending games again on opening night, whenever that may be, you will have proven them to be correct in their assumption.

    JoeCabot
    JoeCabot

     @its419 Ban fighting and instantly double your fan base?   Where did you come up with that?   Seems to be a claim with no substance.   Somehow I don't think that  a bunch of pacifists are suddenly going to become hockey fans if there is no more fighting.

    Kate O
    Kate O

     @its419 As long as there is such a thing as professional fighting, I find this cry for eliminating fighting in hockey preposterous.  When you look at how much time in a game actually involves fighting it's a mere blip and always engaged knowingly and willingly (they talk about it, they square off, they drop gloves facing each other ready to go).  Not much different than a boxing match and again, a blip in 60 minutes of skilled hockey play.  If you have issues with fighting, take on Professional Boxing.  They actually say you know what, don't bother doing anything else but punch each other in the face - talk about a risk to health! And now with MMA, and it's massive popularity, they say go ahead and kick each other in the face too!

    Rollie
    Rollie

     @its419 No other leagues allow fighting? er not quite, infact other than some amateur leagues (ie- US college, peewee-under 16yr olds) they all do.  Overseas as well. get a clue. Americans love violence, I dont see how getting rid of fighting (which really isnt that common) is going to attract them.

     

    CorddryTaylor
    CorddryTaylor

     @its419 It's far more likely that the larger ice surface, that opens up the game in terms of speed and flow contribute to it. Larger ice surfaces allow for the true skill players to survive. Passing lanes are more open, skilled skating is rewarded. It also means that classic "goons" can't survive. You need to be skilled on the big ice, and can't just muscle around guys in a smaller area. 

    It's not the fighting ban that makes the international game more enjoyable, it's the larger ice surface that changes the dynamics of the game towards skill & speed. 

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @G Without the owners and their finances you would not be able to see the "players". The Owners are responsible for way more than you think and have far more input into things than you might like. Sorry, the players should not be getting 57% of the HRR. No way no how.

    williamkuhn
    williamkuhn

     @phillybluz

     I hope so too. Fold the league and kick all the players out.

    The NHL will never see another $ from me or my family.

    Minor league hockey is great, and people can afford to go to the games!

    Of course, the AHL is cool to watch too.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @matthewstrubel Matthew - I agree with you. I don't see the NHL contracting. It would be bad for business to reduce the number of clubs, first of all because the league would be abandoning TV markets, but also because it would be an admission that the sport lacks appeal in enough major markets. A failed franchise would be relocated and there are cities who would be able to take in an NHL club. The experience with the Thrashers is a perfect example. And with Seattle and Quebec both building new arenas, there are two places that could support an NHL club.

     

    As for what I'll to during the lockout, I will probably have to search out other hockey leagues because I'll need to find things about which to write. I'll read a bit more and spend more time with my family instead of in front of the TV or computer. Maybe I'll discover something new. I think that's an interesting question for all fans to ponder. Thanks for asking it.

    MattLeis
    MattLeis

     @James C It may not be a player strike, but I am pretty sure that atsirk's point was that the players are still asking for more through their counter-offers rather than taking the NHL's offers and getting back to the game. Negotiating is a two-way street, and right now, we have two-way greed. Both sides are playing the "gimme gimme" game when they already get, as he said, way too much.

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @James C I agree the business model is flawed but the owners are trying to address that flaw. NO Business should be paying out 57% of their revenue to the work force. The players hire Fehr to lead them, why? Because he will not bend.  This is technically a lock out but is only because the owners are smart they  know the players could and would strike somewhere around mid-season putting a hurt on the NHL as a whole. The Real TV deal begins later in the Hocley season, that is when NHL games get some prominence. This is when the players would strike. Placing a severe hurt on the pocketbooks of the Owners.

    Too many teams are being run in the Red, that is not healthy. Contraction is obviously the smartest move they could make but neither Bettman nor the players would ever go for that. The Players would lose numerous jbs, Bettman would lose his fallacy of hockey works in all markets.

    Remember G, it was the owners who took on the risks, hardships, turmoil of owning the franchise. the players are merely cogs of the machine and are easily replaced. Being the owner is not a cakewalk like your silly quote below tries to portray them as.

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @Kate O  @NukeSciTeach Like Nuke once my Rangers are done, I care very little for watching the remaining rounds, though I will follow the results in the paper. I would consider myself a better than average fan, I watch/attend 60+ games a year not counting the playoffs. I will say quite honestly if it is a game 7 for any team I will tune in.

    BrandonGildea
    BrandonGildea

     @JoeCabot  @NBFORG I agree 100% .  As a rabin NHL fan it will be very hard for me and damn near impossible for some, but the only thing that will make them think twice about locking out again the next time is repercussions from the fans.  If they lock out for a single day I will boycott live games and won't be watching on TV. Hit them in the ticket/concessions/Neilson ratings area.  I know that there are too many people out there that will flock to the game when its back but really we must resist. for the entire remainder of the season!!!!

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @Stu Hackel  @matthewstrubel Mr. Hackel, I find your pieces very infomative but they tend to favor the players? Why is that? Both sides are equally to blame and quite honestly no business should be handing out 57% of their revenues to the workforce.

    As for contracting. Yes we should remove the teams in the red ink, however NO way Bettman nor the Players would allow this to happen. Less teams means less jobs for the players. As for Bettman he is on record saying that Hockey can make it anywhere. No way he wants to lose face by closing franchises down.

    Kate O
    Kate O

     @BrandonGildea  @JoeCabot  @NBFORG Unless you're a Neilsen family, no one will know you aren't watching games so that's a bust.  Go ahead and watch games, you're not helping or hurting them unless you're being counted.  As for not going to games, no way.  I'll be there the first time they hit the ice.  Not going isn't going to change a thing.  It's professional sports - the owners want to make money, the players want to make money.  I can't really blame either of them for wanting to make money since, well, I want to make money too.  I don't see one side being more greedy than the other, they both seem to have their points as well as their demonstrations of greed.  I will never make close to what a player or owner makes but I'm not going to change the large profits associated with professional sports by not going.  Not going isn't going to cause the league, or any league, to go from a billion dollar industry to a $100,000 industry. They aren't going to suddenly all say you know what, we have loads of cash we should slash ticket prices to $5-$10 because of the fans.  Sorry folks, not on board with you.  The minute the Kings hit the ice, I'll be there cheering as loud as ever.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @geeon1 I'm not "siding" with anyone. I guess you are, but again, if you look at what I've written, you'll see that I was not one of those who shrieked that the NHL "declared war" on the players with their first proposal, although it was very harsh by the league's own admission, but was a seen by them as a basis from which to negotiate and I recognized that. Now, I felt the players counter-proposal was more substantive and I think their approach is more thorough in addressing the NHL's problems The owners have a one-issue mind-set and I think this league's problems are far more complicated than the owners solution, which is only to pay the players less. And, you also should have read that I've been critical of the PA for some things they've done, such as Don Fehr glossing over some specifics in his media briefings.

     

    I recognize that there are some teams that are in trouble and there is a need for the next CBA to address that. But it's very hard to for me to undersatnd the owners' position that it's all about spending less on players when small revenue teams like Minnesota give players huge contracts, when the Flyers owner (who is one of the architects of this lockout) forces a small market team like Nashville into a contract on Shea Weber that almost guarantees they will lose money this year, when teams are signing players to contracts that are six years long in an effort to get around what they believe will be a five-year limit on contracts if the owners get their way in the next CBA -- circumventing the CBA before it's even negotiated.

     

    And even if the parties can't agree on the economic side of the CBA talks at the moment, I don't see the virtue in the owners refusing to negotiate on the non-economic issues. I think that's very counter-productive to the goal of getting a CBA done as quickly as possible. That's not "siding" with the players; that's siding with what is good for the game.

    geeon1
    geeon1

    I have read every article you presented Mr. Hackeland I have seen a definite edge towards the players. Don't worry that is the side you choose to side with. No issues with that at all :) I have chosen to side with the owners because as a businessman I know what goes into running a company, time effort, sweat, Nervousness,MONEY and so much more. Most that have never been an owner can not relate to the severe stress placed upon the owner(s). it is not only collecting the revenue and paying the players. Taxes, fees, upkeep, payroll, staffing, pricing etc are just some of the factors involved.

    I have mentioned HRR before perhaps not here but somewhere else :) HRR is all that should be prevalent to the Owners and the players, that is what they generate for each other. Baseball has Baseball related revenue also, not everything a team makes in necessarily sport related. 57% of that number is too high.

    Now remember they set a slary cap floor so many of those teams in the red have to pay out in order to get to the cap. The islanders had to pray for that player to lose his abitration hearing about his trade to them to make the cap.

    As for Doan, good not great player and yes he is over paid. However if you think of the Coyotes you think of Doan, do you not? They actually paid less than what he was offered by other teams. Competition drove the price to where it settled. They paid less than the market deemed his worth.

     

     

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @geeon1  Geeon - I'm glad you find my pieces informative and if you've read them carefully, you know that I have tried to present each side's perspective on things. It doesn't much matter to me who "wins" the lockout, if such a thing is even possible because everyone loses here. 

     

    That said, I go where the facts take me and I find the players are the ones more willing to offer new ideas, more willing to accept concessions, more willing to make a deal than the owners, who just want a deal that overwhelmingly benefits them  -- and BTW, the players did not receive 57 percent of revenue under the expired deal, but 57 percent of hockey related revenue, which not the same thing as it excludes a good amount of the revenue in the business. I've written a post about that and urge you to read it. If all the revenue was calculated, the players say their share now is 51 percent. You may say no business should hand out that much to its workers but that's the standard in the entire sports industry.

     

    I think you also must question just how broken this system is, how much money the league is supposedly losing, when you see the kind of money the owners are throwing around on player contracts just in the last few weeks. It doesn't square with the notion that the teams are hurting -- not just the high revenue teams but also the teams like the Coyotes who are owned by the NHL itself and just signed Shane Doan to a contract that is great for him, but pretty questionable when you consider his age, his declining production, the amount of miles he has clocked and how much he has left in the tank. 

     

    This sort of thing is not me favoring the players, as you put it, but the facts revealing things about the owners and their positions.