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Mistrust shows up to bedevil CBA talks

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By Stu Hackel

Another day, another series of talks for the NHL and NHLPA : Day 110, to be precise, and while there have been some positive developments this week, there is still no certainty that an agreement is imminent or even assured in time to preserve a 48-game season. The supposed deadline for that is Jan. 11, with the schedule beginning on Jan. 19. Neither the deadline nor the puck drop can be guaranteed.

That’s because some outstanding issues — like the salary cap, pensions, and contract limits — remain and the sides are not close to agreeing on how to resolve them. There are new suspicions on both sides as well that have kept the anxiety level high. Both Gary Bettman and Don Fehr said after Wednesday’s marathon talks, which extended into early Thursday, that some progress had been made, but there were still some hard miles to travel.

UPDATE: As of Friday morning, Day 111, the two sides were conferring with a mediator and no formal bargaining session had been set.

UPDATE: As the clock ticked, there were no large-group negotiations Thursday afternoon or evening, only a small group session on the critical pension issue. The absence of talks on the core economic issues dividing the sides got ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun righteously agitated, writing, “The most embarrassing work stoppage in the history of pro sports has found a way once again to show it might also be the most irrational ever of its kind.” His piece is worth reading. And in The Winnipeg Free Press, Gary Lawless quoted a “veteran member of the NHL’s board of governors” saying the season’s cancellation is only a week away. Yahoo Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski, for one, was not surprised by the story and had some salient observations on it which you can read here. Meetings are scheduled to resume Friday morning.

Mistrust has to be bubbling: The owners apparently attempted to slip into the deal a provision that removed harsh financial penalties on clubs that improperly reported (i.e., hid) Hockey Related Revenue. The ploy was detected by the players union, and during talks early on Thursday the penalties were re-instituted. If you need any more of an explanation about why this wholly wasteful and damaging lockout fiasco has dragged on — and on and on and on — this one little episode tells all you need to know.

Potentially more troubling, the NHLPA plans an expedited vote beginning Thursday evening to reinstate its right to file a disclaimer of interest, the fast-track method of decertification that could unleash the anti-trust law hounds at the owners’ legs. The earlier provision to file expired at midnight on Wednesday, to the great relief of the league. The threat of filing the disclaimer, which would make the owners vulnerable to litigation (a tactic the union can use when it believes the other side is not negotiating in good faith), was at least partially responsible for the resumption of talks last week. There was some sentiment among the players that they still need that weapon to keep things going. Some reporters following the story say that the NHLPA believes once the deadline passed, the tone of the league negotiators changed.

UPDATE: More on the vote to reinstate that right to file a disclaimer of interest here on the SI.com Tracking Blog.

In fact, word is that Don Fehr was authorized by the NHLPA Executive Committee to invoke the disclaimer by himself on Wednesday if he believed the situation required it, but he declined to use it, perhaps concerned that it might disrupt the talks. “So wait,” tweeted Yahoo Sports Nick Cotsonika. “It was Don Fehr himself — the bogeyman, salary-cap crusher — who decided against disclaimer last night? Hmm.” And he continued, “Say what you want about Fehr. He has his ideology and his strategy. But he is practical and represents his constituents.”

If nothing else, the expiration of the first disclaimer has allowed the PA to ask the U.S. District Court to dismiss the NHL’s suit against the union that was filed when the news broke last month that they players were going to vote to decertify. If you have the inclination and lots of time (or, as The Globe and Mail’s Dave Shoalts tweeted, “If your life is completely bereft of meaning”), you can read the NHLPA’s motion here.

Part of the good news disclosed on Wednesday was that a Federal mediator, Scot Beckenbaugh, had rejoined the process on Monday and probably has played a significant role in keeping things on track. He’s been in on these talks twice before, actually inviting himself because the league wasn’t especially keen on mediation. But with a new urgency for some semblance of a season upon them, the owners have changed their attitude on the assistance. They are going to need it because the unsettled items seem thorny.

First, is the matter of the salary cap for 2013-14. The owners want it set at $60 million, and the players object to it being that low, seeing as how it will probably cost jobs as teams try to fit under a number that a few clubs have already exceeded. As we noted on Monday, the Canucks already owe $60.7 million to just 13 players in 2013-14, the Flyers owe $59 million to 16, and the Bruins owe $57.1 million to 16. All NHL teams are required to have 23-man rosters, so filling them out with little or no money to spend is going to require that some players be moved or dumped.

The league agreed on Wednesday to allow a second player to be bought out by each club (“compliance buyouts,” they are called) and their salaries would count against the players’ share of HRR instead of the cap. The players want a higher cap, perhaps $65 million. The league is reluctant to give on this, in part because $60 million means a floor of $44 million for the have-not clubs, about $10 million less than the floor was supposed to be for this season. (It will still be that figure, but prorated based on the shorter season.) Last season’s floor was $48 million.

The players have suggested keeping the floor at $44 million but raising the cap over $60 million. The league has resisted, believing a bigger spread between the top and bottom might hurt the NHL’s competitive balance, its parity. Some observers (Larry Brooks of The New York Post, for example) have pointed out that some low-spending teams like the Hurricanes and Oilers have made the Stanley Cup Final and even won the Cup. They believe this parity argument from the owners is a ruse to cut salaries.

This gives you an idea of the difficulty surrounding the unresolved portions of the CBA, and the pension issue seems to be even more tangled. Not much is known about the details (we linked to Pat Leonards’ New York Daily News item yesterday, and Yahoo’s Cotsonika also has some insight on it and other stalled matters), but it was thought that the pension issue had been agreed upon a month ago. Not so, because apparently this is another item that the owners changed in their most recent offer.

“It’s a very complicated issue,” Bettman said after the Wednesday-Thursday talks. “I mean, the number of variables and the number of issues that have to be addressed by people who carry the title actuary or pension lawyer are pretty numerous and it’s pretty easy to get off track, but that’s something that we understand is important to the players. If we can get the issues resolved, we’re hopeful we can satisfy the players on that but that’s still a work in progress.”

For now, we wait and see how — and if — the sides can manage to plow through these things. We’ve already waited over 100 days, and we’re going to have to wait some more.

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  • Published On Jan 03, 2013
  • 33 comments
    CobyPreimesberger
    CobyPreimesberger like.author.displayName 1 Like

    the first cancelled season it was on the owner's as in that it was the players who gave and gave and gave and the owner's tried to squeeze everything out of the players, this time if there is a lost season it would be the players, because the owner's have giving everything possible and yet fehr doesn't agree.  To me though it's a pox on both there house's because this deal should've been done a long time ago, like they should've been talking at the the all-star game and on and fehr just said, no let's wait until the lockout happen's then will talk

    acully30
    acully30

     @CobyPreimesberger Disagree completely...the players went down from 57% to %)5 in revenue, thats a major drop in the money the players are seeing.  In reality the league wants everything and is very unwilling to compromise.  Fehr is making sure the players dont get screwed as they last "negotiations."  Fher has stayed calm and has had a plan all along, how many times have we heard Gary say this is a take it or leave it offer only to come back with something better.  The league is trying to bully the PA into trying to take their deal and when the players haven't caved in they get mad and walk away from the table.  The real problem is Gary Bettman and the owners.  The owners need to stop trying to save them from themselves and do a better and SMARTER job managing their teams and the personal they hire to make those teams, not look to the league to make sure they don't get in too deep with contracts or take advantages of the rules the league put in place in the last CBA.  There will be no "winner" in this go around, neither side will really get most everything they want so its time to just put the egos aside and get a deal done. And who ever says the NHL talent now is less than it was 20 years ago is crazy, top to bottom the league has never had better players, they all skate faster, shoot harder, and check harder.  The goalies are the best they have ever been (they had to change the rules of the game in order to try and get more scoring after all).  Back then they had fighters who could barley skate and hardly play, now every fighter can play and play decently well. So I have no idea what rose color glass people are wearing saying the talent level is lacking now just don't see it.

    therednorth1
    therednorth1

    If cancelling the season gets Bettman fired, cancel the season already.  Unfortunately I think Bettman would survive even a cancelled season.

     

    Still, just imagine how strong hockey could be if we had a real commish.

    geeon1
    geeon1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

     @therednorth1 Bettman not only will survive he will have been deemed the winner of the current negotiations if it goes down as is. Owners get the 50-50 split, they get shorter contracts, they get lower salary cap number. Bettmen is not , nor has he ever been, the issue here. He answers to the NHL owners who haven given him his marching orders.

    geeon1
    geeon1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

    Mr. hackel you might not be seeing this the way I am: Fehr has never lost a negotiation, he made himself scarce at two recent meetings. Why? Simple he does not want to have the loss on his resume. He knows right now accepting this deal will mean a big loss for him. He might be willing to sacrifice the season thinking the owners will cave at the last minute or cave for the next year. this would mean a smaller loss for himself. He could care less about the players or the league it is all about Fehr. Moreso than it is ever about Bettman. Bettman has been given his marching orders by the league, Fehr has been handed the keys to the NHLPA to bring them to victory.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @geeon1 You're right. I don't see it the way you do.

    geeon1
    geeon1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

     @Stu Hackel I know you 100% (maybe 95%) behind the players I don't think you have grasped the costs factors yet, though i keep hammering them on you :)

    Fehr was the wrong man to bring in here, you do know he intentionally avoided the last two meeting with Bettman right? No reason given. Why? My opinion is above and I know Fehr, trust me on this, he does not want to lose this negotiation. Right now he is losing big time.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @geeon1 No, I'm not behind the players. I'm in favor of a fair and equitable deal for both sides and good-faith bargaining to achieve it.

    hdogg48
    hdogg48 like.author.displayName 1 Like

    Stu you make some valid points in response to Tim Teller's post below, but on a few of them I definately beg to respectfully differ. True hockey players are essentially entertainment figures, but are they the same as actors or singers or musicians? It is more the rule than the exception for actors and singers starting out with essentially nothing but their talents to go on a be successful producers, and owniers of television and movie as well as recording studios. In the modern age I can only think of two players that had enormous success as players and then became owners... Michael Jordan and Wayne GretTzky, and how did that work out? So in essence we aren't comparing apples to oranges here......more like grapes to watermellons. Let's talk entertainment value here as well. OK a Springsteen ticket is about the same as a hockey ticket, but does he get a 10 year contract to play in the garden? No he is only as good as his last show or album. Broadway tickets? Yeah, right, what kind of company is going to do The Lion King in Columbus or Winnipeg and get people to shell out two bills for a seat? And your serf and slave comment about players of before. It looks like serfs and slaves like Connie Mack, George Halas, Paul Brown and Curly Lambeau did alright for themselves as serfs and slaves. Sure the owners are greedy, but they have something that the players don't have in terms of commitment. Finally the point on the players narrow window of earning power, and the owners lack of respect in honoring long term contracts I would like to cite two examples of the kind of player that I respect. The first is Stan Musial, and this I got from an article written recently in SI by John Posnanski. One year in the fifties The Man was making 100 grand, one of the highest contracts in baseball at that time. He had an off year and his stats from the previous year diminished by 20%. He went in to August Bush the owner of the Cards and told him to cut his pay. Today Stan is far from poor and is one of the Most beloved Cardianl ever, they even built a statue of him. The other player is George Brett. In the the late 80's George Brett's career was winding down. He played for the Royals and had an HOF career. KC was and is a smal market team. He had a gentlemen's agreement on a fill in the blanks lifetime contract with his beloved owner Ewing Kaufman that he hoped wouldn't bankrupt the team. One day he called a press conference and announced his retirement saying that as a .280 hitter hE didn't want to cheat the fans. He took a $250K front office job. Then there is the former owner of the Orioles, Mr. Jacobs, who put his blood sweat and tears into building Camden Yards, then lost everything. Today that venue s considered the blueprint of the myriad of great urban ballparks that were built afterwards. So in response to your blog and comments I see don Fehr as the anti Stan Musial and George Brett.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

    @hdogg48 Thanks for your comment and the interesting points you raise. I'll have to disagree, however, with many of your premises, and I'm not entirely clear on what your point is other than that you don't like Don Fehr because he isn't in favor of players making less money, even if they don't perform as they did during their best years. Again, as I said in the post you are reacting to, I'm not a big fan of that either, but that's the realities of the sports world in which we live and it's a vastly different world than it was in the eras you seem to lionize. You can wax nostalgic all you want for a bygone era and at times I do as well. But we are where we are now because there are different realizations about the business of sports than existed back then and laws that reflect those realizations.

     

    As to your premise that my classifying hockey players as entertainment figures is somehow flawed because they generally don't become owners the way that film and TV stars become producers and such (and BTW, you neglected to include Mario Lemieux and Magic Johnson, to name two, with Gretzky and Jordan in the group of athletes who become owners, not to mention your own examples of Connie Mack, George Halas and the others. Eddie Shore was another from that era): First, even if that is so (and I'm not sure it is) that doesn't invalidate that in each of these businesses -- cinema/TV and. hockey (and all sports) -- the actors and players make their living because they entertain people. That's the point I was making and that's the key to the industry, that's what characterizes its uniqueness, not how many of those who make their living performing in it rise to some level of ownership. My point is that compensation in the entertainment industry dwarfs that of most other industries because of the special talents of the individuals who perform in it and the fact that people pay big money to watch them perform. You misconstrue to be grapes and watermellons or whatever produce you choose.  But the fact is I don't see too many, if any, TV or film stars become owners of major TV networks or flim studios. They may have their own production companies and such, but that's small potatoes compared to the big entertainment conglomerates which are owned by huge corporations and banks and hedge funds and such -- and those owners are more the parallels to the sports franchise owners. Furthermore, you should be aware that in hockey, a considerable number of former (and even current) players have gotten into ownership of junior hockey franchises, much smaller scale operations which might be the parallel to the actors who start their own production companies.

     

    Another premise I disagree on with you is that there are no long term contracts in entertainment. That's just not true. Springsteen and others may not have 10 year deals to play Madison Square Garden (although even that is changing with some performers signing exclusive long term deals to play a certain resort casino in Las Vegas), but three are countless top musicians and actors who sing long term deals with their record companies or movie studios, who want to lock up this top talent the way sports franchises want to lock up certain players.

     

    As I wrote in the earlier comment, I certainly remember the days of the reserve clause and, in some ways, have great affection for the way fans then were able to identify players with teams and so on. But the overwhelming majority of athletes in all pro sports back then were paid so poorly they had to have second jobs, The few men you mention who worked their way into ownership were the rare exception. And for every unfortunate story like that of Eli Jacobs, there are dozens of other owners in sports history whose level of benevolence is more akin to Jeffrey Loria, the owner of the Florida Marlins and killer the Expos. It's an error to pull out a few examples and believe they are reflective of the entire sports business when the business of sports was hugely exploitive and it only changed when the players organized to collectively bargain for better treatment and the courts struck down many of the pillars of the way the owners did business.

     

    You may not like the way things are now, but the old days aren't coming back.

    hdogg48
    hdogg48

    @Stu Hackel OK Mario was left ou and Magic. in the lateTwenties Charlie Chaplain and Douglas Fairbanks didn't like the way they were treated by the studios, so they formed United Artists Studios. Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, and Ron Howard make much more as producers Than they ever did as actors, but they put up a lot of their own money and took risks. In the Fifties, I Love Lucy was the top show. The Arnez's put up their lucrative syndication money and formed the Desilu Studios which gave us the Untoucahables in the early sixties. As far as studio musicians being locked up long term, hey Buddy Guy and BB King are in their seventies and are still killing it, as are actors like Eastwood...can you name a great athlete still in demand for me to pay and see at 70? And on the merchandise, besides the rare Superstar athlete that is great for ten years or so, it's the team brand that ensures, and like real estate is where the true value exists. Many people thought George Steinbrenner was nuts for putting up like what 7-12Million of his father's Shipbuilding money in the 70's to buy the Yankees in the early 70's. He wasn't buying a 6th place team, with a ton of retired Hall of Famers....HE was buying the New York Yankees brand.No matter how you try to spin it, the risk/reward dynamic of ownership may evolve but it won't change.

    hdogg48
    hdogg48

    @Stu Hackel The relevance of United Artists and Desilu is that they were both industries that were facing times of economic uncertainty and no one knew which way things were going and the best and the brightest took risks and ended up getting their fair share of the pie, not with a union or bargaining collectively but by the risk of an entrepreneurial spirit. If you think that Patrick Roy owning a Junior team in anyway resembles Clint Eastwood producing and directing the next blockbuster then I've got some beach front property in Arizona to sell you. Another point of contention I have with journalists like you is the way you guys constantly vilify corporations as if they are all so inherit entry evil and greedy and hell bent on destroying the little guy. I can tell you as someone that was born in Western Pa. that after US Steel and others closed down that the population has shrunk to nearly half. Ask the people in Detroit if they were better off when GM was the most powerful corporation in the World. I spent my of my life in Central New Jersey. That part of the country is the epicenter of the pharmaceutical Universe. It has always had a vibrant economy and the wages have always been at or near the top per capita in the country. The New York Jets are just a toy for a guy like Woody Johnson. His corporation and others like his has meant so much to the economic prosperity of this area. Believe me I would hate to see J & J, Merk, Bristol MyersSquibs or Warner Lambert go the route of GM or US Steel. I'm not blaming everything on the unions, but their are certainly enough labor and safety laws on the books to prevent the kind of abuse we saw in the past.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @hdogg48  Again, I'm not entirely sure what your point is other than you don't like the current sports labor-management landscape. I mean, I'm not sure what the relevance of the founding of United Artists almost 100 years ago or Desilu more than a half century ago has to this discussion of whether we can call sports part of the entertainment business.

     

    But if you want to talk risk-reward, no owner risks more than a pro athlete. You are absolutely right, no one watches a hockey player at 70 years old (and BTW, BB King is 87) and they have a very limited window to make the most of their career. They face all the real physical risks of injury that could cut short that career. The average NHLer only plays four years and because of how he has had to train from the time he's a child, he's largely unprepared to do much else beside play hockey. And all he does is attract all the fans and TV viewers,. He's the one who helps the owner amass the fortune gained from owning a franchise. No one pays to see the owner. So the player has earned the right to have his share of the business. We can talk about how big or small that share might be and I suspect you and I would disagree on that as well. But you can't deny that the player is at least as much a part of the equation in the sports business as the franchise owner.

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @hdogg48 You forgot mario Lemiuex as owner. Quite successful would you not think?

    BrianSpiegel
    BrianSpiegel like.author.displayName 1 Like

    For God sake: why won't Bettman and the owners play fair. Sneaking in a provision hoping that the players don't notice it? Do they think they are the US trying to sneak a vote in the UN while the USSR is in the bathroom? We are sooooo close to hockey... so... damn... close....

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @BrianSpiegel Nope that was already fixed FEHR is the culprit: he intentionally did not attend two meeting with the league. I mentioned a possible reason above. The players are playing games this time.

    TimTeller
    TimTeller like.author.displayName 1 Like

    Stu: Thanks for the reporting on these issues. It might seem as if there is a middle ground on the salary cap/floor and the contract limits (the pension issues are so complex, I am staying out of it intellectually). Yet, any movement on these issues on either side will alter their overall financial position. As a fan of a middle of the pack salary team, I see the points of both the players and management on the salary cap/floor. I cannot wrap my head around the need for long player contracts, however. I just do not understand it. I know it is nice if you are the player and are guaranteed $$$ for 6 + years, but I am amazed anyone in management signs off on these contracts. How many times do long term deals look okay in the first half of the contract length then blow up later? Many contracts over the years that exceed 6 years end up overpaying the athlete in the second half of the contract. Yes I know that the players have a short time to make their money as a player. But long contracts do not make sense to me. Your thoughts, Mr. Hackel?

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

     @TimTeller I fully understand your feelings, Tim. I can tell you, as a fan, I'm not generally a big fan of them either (although sometimes I am, depending on the circumstances). There are lots of things about the business of sports and players contracts that seem counter-intuitive. I grew up in a era when players were mostly tied to their teams in every sport, and they were identified with that team -- and the team got their identity from them. It was, perhaps, the main way fans got attached to the team, through the players. We may have loved that era, look back on it fondly, and maybe even wish it would return, but the provisions that made it so -- most notably the reserve clause -- were illegal. And rightly so. In some ways it's sad, but the players were really serfs, indentured slaves to the owners, and that had to change.

     

    So we find ourselves in a different time with different rules and practices and free agency is among the biggest. We may not like it, but it's the reality of our time, it's the law and honestly, owners who dole out these huge deals clearly make enough money to afford them; and if they can't, well, that's really not the players' fault.  And when a team is courting a free agent, or wants to keep one of its own players from leaving as a free agent, guaranteeing them term and money is the way it gets done. You have bidding wars and such, and owners and GMs can lose perspective in their desire to build a winner or keep a winning team in tact. Most often, teams that can't afford a player won't bid on him or will drop out of the bidding. The owners know what they can afford for the most part. So the deals can be longer than they otherwise should and don't always work out on the field or the ice. Sometimes they do, but not always. And sometimes they don't work out for the entire length of the contract. But no one forces the owners to pay that money for as long as they do. They do it on their own.

     

    What the NHL is trying to do here is get the players to agree to certain conditions that will limit the players' rights. The players have made a lot of concessions in that direction in these talks but they are not about to give the owners everything they want at the expense of their own limited careers and earning powers. And the league has to have the players consent because without it, they would have to resort to illegal methods (collusion) in an effort to control the market. It's the way our economic system works, for better or worse. I agree: Fans may get frustrated when they see a player making lots of money under-perform -- and they have every right to feel that way, boo the guy or whatever. But while the player is making money, remember, the owner still makes out very well, too.

     

    I find the biggest problem fans have with all this is they compare it to their own circumstances, their own lives, their own jobs and the conditions of their employment and they are outraged by the money players make. But the sports industry -- in fact, the entire entertainment industry -- is really a different marketplace. Those who have a specialized talent are highly compensated because what they have is so special, so unusual, so rare, so exciting, that people pay lots of money to watch them. No one pays money to watch the guy making cars on the assembly line, or any other line of work. The entertainment business is very different.

     

    Anyway, those are my thoughts for what they're worth. Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading the blog.

    Steve Moore
    Steve Moore

    8th paragraph says,  "seeing as how it will probably cost jobs as teams try to fit under a number". Blatantly wrong -replacing $5mil players w/$1mil players is a wash, number of 'jobs' does not decrease. Seems everyone trying to sell their way of thinking says "it'll cost jobs". Completely untrue.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

     @Steve Moore No, it's not untrue. First of all, if you are moving from a cap of 70 million to 60 million, you're not replacing players dollar for dollar, as you state. There are fewer dollars, and players will be bought out so teams can fit under the cap. There is no guarantee the players cut will get jobs and with fewer dollars available, there is a likelihood that these guys won't be picked up by other clubs. It's not the number of jobs that is the concern -- there will still be 23 players on a roster. What they are concerned about is the loss of jobs among existing NHLers and replacing them with less talented guys who are perhaps fringe players, but more "affordable" (which is to say, cheaper). By the way, it will also decrease the quality of play fans see.

    StephenCurtis
    StephenCurtis like.author.displayName 1 Like

     @Stu Hackel It wont cost total jobs , it will make teams buy out an extra player. But that player still gets his money. So since all teams have to have 23 players as u your self stated then no jobs total are lost. Just a particular player loses his job. That happens to people like me everyday. A man who has 15 yrs on a job gets cut to give that job to a new bie because hes cheaper, Sow why should a hockey player be immune to this when people like me and other normal workers arent

     

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @Stu Hackel  @geeon1 Dishonest? hardly: if a p[layer stops performing the NFL can cut ties with them. this would work extremely well for the NHL. We have seen the NHL long term deals blow up on the Islanders for example.  Change is needed in the NHL, the current structure and the one currently being discussed will not be enough for teams that sign a player to max contract/term only to see that players performance die immediately. See Mr. Hackel the NFL's way would be outstanding for the NHL because sometimes a player is bought/signed and they don't gel with their team or the coaches it happens in all sports. Having a way to get out from under the bad deal (for both) is a good thing.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @geeon1 No. A contract is a contract. There's nothing phonier and more dishonest in sports than NFL contracts. It's up to the teams to make sound judgements on their player acquisitions and dealings.

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @Stu Hackel Isn't it time to go to non-guaranteed contracts like the NFL? If a player isn't working out (example Wade Redden) then you can cut them allowing them to be free agents seeking an opportunity to show they still can play? It will prevent those big contracts from making the players feel to comfortable still needing to play hard every day. Which many, like Scott Gomez, did not after receiving his guranteed big money deal.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @StephenCurtis Agreed, Stephen, it won't cost total jobs. That's not the objection the NHLPA has to lower cap. It's that current players, which the union represents, will lose their jobs. Nor is it that a player won't get paid --  although unless it changes, players who are bought out do not receive the entire value of their contract but a percentage of it -- but that with a lower cap, he may not get another job. That's the repsonsiblity of the union, to protect its members. You may not like it for some reason, but that's what they are doing in opposing the lower cap. And just because it happens every day doesn't make it right or fair. Why should NHL players be immune to it? Because they apparently now have a pretty strong union. And I'd disagree with you that "normal workers" are always vulnerable to being replaced by cheaper labor. In any industry with a strong union, normal workers have more protection against that than non-union workers. The owners don't like it, but that's a fact of life in our society and it's a right protected under the law. It's part of our democracy.

    MichaelMacIsaac
    MichaelMacIsaac

     @Stu Hackel The quality was decreased a long, long time ago... I nearly threw up in my mouth when I read that they were considering expanding the post season to 20 teams, and another report that suggested 2 more expansion clubs. The league is already full of "fringe" players; the issue of greed does not come from those on the fringe.

    Stump
    Stump

     @geeon1  @Stu Hackel  @MichaelMacIsaac

     that is an absolutely embarrassing comment.  to refresh yourself, i suggest you pull up the junior hockey going on now and put your computer on and pull up nhl games from the 70's and 80's.  compare the two as you watch.  if you don't see the light years difference between the two, you are kidding yourself.

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @Stu Hackel  @MichaelMacIsaac Disagree Mr. Hackel. talent level is watered down because of all the teams. Many of the third and fourth line players playing now would never have made the league years ago. While i will agree the level of the superstar are higher (diets, better conditioning etc) the mid level players would not have made the original teams.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @MichaelMacIsaac I must disagree, Michael. I think the quality of NHL players has never been as high as it is now. The skill level is off the charts compared to any earlier era. I've been watching the NHL since the days of the Original Six and while everyone finds one era particularly endearing, any objective fan can only conclude this current generation of players are superior in every aspect of the game. Now, you may not like the fact that there are 30 teams and the talent is spread thinner than when there were 16 or 21, but I'd counter that in earlier times, each team had depth players who were poor skaters or who couldn't shoot the puck especially well. Now everyone on an NHL roster is a good to excellent skater and everyone shoots the puck with authority. And as for the physical side of the game, this generation of players is better conditioned and so physical that the league has had to curb certain types of bodychecking because of the increased risk of injury.

     

    As for your objection to adding more playoff teams, I'd object to that as well, but I don't see where that has anything to do with the quality of NHL players currently in the league.

    brighat
    brighat

    I hate the NHL but I love Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. I've seen them in concert twice and they kicked major butt. Canada would love to see more of Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings over a greedy bunch of NHL players who are the real villains in this lockout. Just bite the bullet, already.

    gwheels
    gwheels

     @brighat If it is a fight between millionaires and billionaires, why are you on the billionaires side?  Some like to demonize the union, and use terms like socialism, but it is the owners who are attempting to suppress the market.  Elite hockey (or any sport) talent is rare.  Owners are trying to drive down the price of it.  The players are rightly asserting that they, as THE PRODUCT, deserve more than a marginal return.  No one goes to a hockey game to see the Air Canada Centre, they go to see the players.  That makes this unlike any other CBA negotiation.  The NHL owners saw the NBA and NFL get a cozy labour deal, and now they want theirs.  Not happening.  Solidarity forever NHLPA, and God bless Donald Fehr!

    brighat
    brighat

     @gwheels The owners are trying to prevent what's going to happen to the NBA when their ridiculous CBA runs out. They want the NHL to remain healthy and it's not going to happen with the current agreement. Prosperity can't last for long in their league. The billionaires are the ones with the most to lose here. There needs to be some sort of constraint. Honestly, these hockey players do very little to help their franchise outside of playing hockey. 95% of them are dull, inert and blah human beings who speak in cliches. Have you ever seen an NHL hockey player interviewed? Many of them make Andy Dalton sound charismatic.

    geeon1
    geeon1

     @gwheels No they are not. the owners are the ones being screwed by the NHLPA. You forget the owners also pay for the employees, ice, building,equiptment ,travel, insurance etc that the Players don't do diddly for. That eats their revenue. That is why the current split had to be changed. 50-50 of the HRR is still relatively unfair to the owners because of those extra costs.