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NHL players face massive escrow increase on Friday

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Ryan Getzlaf will soon be seeing less of the huge 8-year, $66-million deal he recently inked with the Ducks. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

By Allan Muir

They won’t be scrounging for forgotten change in vending machines or offering to squeegee your car at a major intersection any time soon, but NHL players are about to be much shorter on cash than they’d expected.

Multiple sources are reporting tonight that the escrow deduction will leap from 10 percent to 20 percent starting with this Friday’s pay check. The bigger chunk is required to cover for lower-than-expected revenues. Sources say hockey-related revenue estimates have been lowered from $2.4 billion to $2.1 billion.

The good news for the players is that the 20 percent rate is aggressive and they can expect to get some of that money back in the long run. The “make whole” provision that was the core issue of the recent CBA discussions will ensure that much of that amount is restored. And there’s a chance that higher playoff takes will have a positive impact on hockey related revenue as well. In other words, every player’s second-favorite teams right now are Toronto and Montreal.

More to come.


  • Published On Mar 11, 2013
  • A ‘Yes’ with a season in the balance

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    Bill Daly

    Really, what else could Bill Daly say? No one knows if a deal will be struck in time. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Will there be an NHL season?

    The league cancelled its schedule through Jan. 14 on Thursday so the fact that this question still torments us after 96 days of the lockout is hardly surprising. But the hockey community did raise its collective bruised eyebrow on Wednesday when CBC’s Elliotte Friedman asked that very question of NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly — and only wanted to hear a “yes” or a “no” answer. No qualifications of equivocating allowed.

    “Do we have a season?”

    You can listen to Daly’s response here or continue reading for it.

    “Yes.”

    It was the most encouraging word we’ve heard in a couple of weeks, since Daly stood shoulder to shoulder with the NHLPA’s special counsel Steve Fehr (video) and talked about how real progress was being made for the first time in the marathon collective bargaining meetings that were held earlier this month.

    NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr reacted quite positively when he was informed of Daly’s answer (at around 1:45 of the video below).

    Read More…


  • Published On Dec 20, 2012
  • NHL’s money-loser mirage, Rangers-Flyers hurricane relief game, more

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    Florida Panthers

    The Florida Panthers are regularly portrayed as an NHL basket case. (Elliott Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    What is this lockout about? That is something that the NHL’s team owners have never clearly articulated, but one thing we’ve been led to believe is that while a group of established clubs are generating huge revenues, many more are not and some are losing boatloads of money. One franchise that is frequently cited as drowning in red ink is the Florida Panthers, which Forbes Magazine pegged as having lost $7 million last year. During the last nine years, Florida supposedly took a $68 million bath, about $7.5 million annually.

    But in a new post, Johnathan Willis of The Edmonton Journal’s Cult of Hockey blog writes about how he hunted down and examined publicly available documents of the Panthers’ parent company’s finances and they show a much different and more complicated picture. Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, which owns the team and controls its arena, actually showed a profit of $117.4 million between 1998 and 2012, including a stretch in which the Panthers missed the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons.

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  • Published On Nov 16, 2012
  • The CBA and the sausage factory

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    hockey fans

    Wake us up when this nightmare is over: a sentiment shared by more than a few hockey fans during the lockout. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL cancelled another swath of games on Friday, through Nov. 1. Do you care? Have your eyes just glassed over, your ears become so full of this stuff that the words — well-meaning as they may be — and numbers just bounce right out?

    At a certain point in this process of the NHL arriving at a new collective bargaining agreement, a big chunk of fans have just thrown up their hands and said, “I’ve had enough.” The claims and counterclaims, the blizzard of statistics and dollar figures, the same arguments over and over again, the threats and the responses, and the perceived lack of progress all becomes too much. And this week, just when it appeared that there might be some hope of a settlement, the floor dropped out beneath us again and now there is news of more games being axed. No one can be blamed for wanting to get off this roller coaster and let it ride on without them.

    And yet…and yet…perhaps there is some light amidst the darkness.

    When the owners this week proposed a new deal that, for the first time, said they’d accept a 50-50 split of Hockey Related Revenue, the players agreed on the target. However, they used some other formulas to reach it. Different versions of 50-50? Sounds crazy. Well, no one has ever — ever — said that NHL economics are sane. Still, never in all these months of haggling had the sides reached some sort of rough agreement on the portions each would receive. Now they merely (merely!) need to agree on a formula.

    “Good luck with that, guys,” you say, waiving your hand in farewell. “Call me when you’ve got that figured out.”

    It could be soon; it could be a long time.

    This is the world of collective bargaining, which is certainly not a spectator sport, even if this negotiation is all about spectator sports. The stars of the CBA process don’t really care if you watch them or not; in fact, they probably prefer you don’t. Most of what they do is away from the cameras. But the more you see and the more you pay attention, the more you understand the truth in the famous quote that’s often wrongly attributed to Otto von Bismarck: “Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.” The quote and the source may be apocryphal, the sentiment is not. Making the law for NHL labor relations is ugly business, a horror show with blood, bone, muscle and fat strewn and splattered about. It’s not for everyone.

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  • Published On Oct 19, 2012
  • Hope dashed as CBA talks stall again

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    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

    Described by one witness as “seething”, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expressed disappointment that no progress had been made and that he could not see what the next step would be. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The optimism that some people felt when the NHL handed a new offer to the players on Tuesday quickly faded Thursday after the league rejected the NHLPA’s counter-offers that union members said were based on what had been presented to them. The players had three approaches that would all get to the 50-50 split in Hockey Related Revenue that the owners want, except that the split would not be realized in the first year of a new deal, only after a few seasons. The owners continue to want that division immediately.

    As a result, talks — which only lasted about an hour today — have stalled once again and, barring some sort of reversal by one of the parties very soon, the league’s hope that a full season can be played now seems gone.

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  • Published On Oct 18, 2012
  • Hard bargaining ahead on owners’ new CBA proposal

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    NHL lockout

    The players have been warned that the NHL’s latest offer contains some serious shortcomings. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    UPDATE: Thursday’s collective bargaining session in Toronto has ended with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expressing disappointment at the lack of progress. The NHLPA reportedly offered three alternate proposals, none of which were deemed acceptable. A new post on today’s talks will be up a bit later this afternoon.

    The first response from the NHLPA to Tuesday’s new offer by the NHL has been made public and anyone who believed that what the league has proposed — which you can read here — would lead directly to riotous cheers from the players and a quick deal is bound to be disappointed.

    After a meeting by the union’s negotiating committee during which the proposal’s details were evaluated, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr sent a letter to membership and agents outlining the problems. Bob McKenzie of TSN got a copy and you can read it here.

    The two sides will reconvene talks on Thursday afternoon in Toronto. A number of observers are calling this a critical make-it-or-break-it session which may determine whether we have a season or not, but that may be an overstatement, unless what is meant is a full 82 game season. A shortened season remains a possibility. No one on the owners’ side has said what is on the table is a final offer and, in fact, some have reported the NHLPA will make a counter proposal today.

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  • Published On Oct 17, 2012
  • Searching for hope in NHL CBA talks

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    So far, fans have seen few signs that the 2012-13 NHL season will start on time. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    The Labor Day weekend has come and gone and there’s still no labor agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA. About a week and a half remains before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement on Sept. 15 and most observers, like my SI.com cohort Al Muir, are downcast, and not without good reason. They look at the calendar, they’ve heard what the lead negotiators — Gary Bettman for the owners and Don Fehr for the players — had to say last week after deciding to not talk for a while (Bettman says it was a mutual decision, Fehr said it was at the owners’ behest; they can’t even agree on that) and believe that the chances of reaching a deal are negligible.

    Yet, strangely, both Bettman and Fehr insisted that a deal was still possible. Are they posturing? Just putting up a brave front? Delusional?

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  • Published On Sep 04, 2012
  • Is a CBA standstill on the way?

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    With CBA talks dragging, Commissioner Gary Bettman is under fire from angry fans who see a lockout coming. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The Thursday meeting between NHL owners and players was a short one, only 90 minutes, but it seems that’s all that was needed. An impending stalemate in CBA negotiations (discussed here in Wednesday’s post) looms with each side’s position in danger of ossifying. It’s hardly unanticipated; you had to know that amidst all the talk about being focused on reaching an agreement, there’s long been a sense that each side would dig in its heels over some fundamental issue and those heels now seem to be sinking into the earth.

    This isn’t to say that the sides aren’t trying to negotiate a deal at the moment. They’re still talking and plan to resume on Tuesday. According to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in his remarks after the most recent discussion, the league had tried to craft a revised position of its own — incorporating elements of the NHLPA’s “alternate proposal” that offers the owners’ some concessions on player salaries — that would be the basis for whittling down the difference between the sides. But Bettman said the NHLPA didn’t have much “receptivity” to what the league devised, despite a couple of attempts to engage the union on it. Then the players presented the owners with the remaining parts of their proposal, those dealing with the NHLPA’s views on contract issues: free agency, salary arbitration, contract length and the like, things the NHL wants to restrict. The owners didn’t much like what they heard. “The union,” Bettman said (video), “is looking for a system that has more flexibility and we’re looking for a system that has less flexibility.

    “The bigger point, I think, we made today goes to the fact that whether or not we are talking about the contract or system issues or we’re talking about revenue sharing, it’s clear that we’re at a point where it’s going to be very difficult to move this process along until we deal with the fundamental economic issues. And certainly as it relates to the fundamental economic issue, we are far apart, both in terms of magnitude and structure. And that’s something we’re trying to get a handle on.”

    Read More…


  • Published On Aug 23, 2012


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