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"We will not play this year"


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The NHL’s first offer in its negotiations with the NHLPA was seen by many as a shot across the union’s bow. And with the league reportedly asking for a considerably larger split in hockey-related revenue from the players, the elimination of signing bonuses, as well as a salary rollback, predictions of a work stoppage are growing in number.

In fact, one source with knowledge of the players’ side of the negotiation is predicting not just a work stoppage, but an entire lost season.

“Last time around, the NHL made its salary cap proposal and barely moved off it,” the source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told PHT. “This is not an initial proposal. The league is shutting down and it’s ‘come back when you’re ready to accept.’

“This is exactly what happened last time. You heard it here first, we will not play next year.”

Granted, that’s just one opinion.

For most, it remains hard to imagine another lost season after the entire 2004-05 schedule was wiped out due to a lockout. Could the league and union really let it happen again?

It’s also still very early in the negotiations. The current collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until Sept. 15, and we’re only in July.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly declined to comment on the above.

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empty-arena.jpg?w=320

Getty Images

The NHL’s first offer in its negotiations with the NHLPA was seen by many as a shot across the union’s bow. And with the league reportedly asking for a considerably larger split in hockey-related revenue from the players, the elimination of signing bonuses, as well as a salary rollback, predictions of a work stoppage are growing in number.

In fact, one source with knowledge of the players’ side of the negotiation is predicting not just a work stoppage, but an entire lost season.

“Last time around, the NHL made its salary cap proposal and barely moved off it,” the source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told PHT. “This is not an initial proposal. The league is shutting down and it’s ‘come back when you’re ready to accept.’

“This is exactly what happened last time. You heard it here first, we will not play next year.”

Granted, that’s just one opinion.

For most, it remains hard to imagine another lost season after the entire 2004-05 schedule was wiped out due to a lockout. Could the league and union really let it happen again?

It’s also still very early in the negotiations. The current collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until Sept. 15, and we’re only in July.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly declined to comment on the above.

GREED.

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Anybody have the offers from the last CBA negotiations handy..I'm not at a computer right now. I would like to see how accurate the "source" quoted is...

I thought that initial offer, was the "nuclear" option. I get negotiating, and all that, but that offer was down right insulting to the NHLPA, and will do nothing but insure hostile negotiations, right from the start.

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@DaGreatGazoo The offer is really a slap in the face for the NHLPA and sets a horrible tone for future dealings with Fehr. This is the guy you will be negoiating with for the next 10 years+ .....perhaps this is why the NHL chose this route, to set the tone....."we've heard about how effective you are Mr.Fehr....but not in our sport". A bush league move for a bush league President.

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Hope from Eklund of all people...lol, he said there is a chance that both sides can play this year under the current CBA and hash out a deal during the season.....AND yes ruxpin, sumwon said "hash"....LOL!

I heard this, too, and not just from Eklund... though I can't remember where else I saw it at the moment. :huh: If that really was the initial offer then I expect a long, hard road. Here's another article pointing to the same...

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=400580

Quite a lot of concessions for the NHLPA to make! Hopefully this is a "here's what we really want" knowing that the PA will pare it down and feel like they got something. However, having seen the way the league has operated in the last CBA discussions and in the years after it, I'm probably way off base. As always we, the fans, are the ones who suffer.

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@jammer2: I couldn't agree more. I can only hope this is a negotiating tactic. I mean, some of the changes I think would be a good thing, especially as they relate to player contracts, etc. However, there is no way in he|| the NHLPA is going to accept that kind of adjustment in revenue split. And I don't blame them. As others have said, that's a true slap in the face.

Off topic but on... I read on a forum (if it was this one I apologize for not remembering who it was that said it) an idea where if a team "home brewed" a player, and that player's contract was expiring, the team that groomed the player should be allowed to resign the player with only 75% of the annual salary counting against the cap. The idea was to allow teams who have groomed their own players to potentially benefit for having done so. So a team could potentially offer a little more money to keep a player without having to worry quite as much about the cap hit. I haven't really thought hard about any implications that might have, and maybe the numbers should change a little, but I thought it was an interesting idea nonetheless. I bring that up for no other reason than to bring it up. :P

Anyway, I sure hope we're not all in for a big disappointment!

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From someone who deals with union negotiations this is posturing. Nothing more. If I'm seeking 4 percent pay increase I don't ask for 4 percent at the table. I'll prolly ask for 6 maybe 7. Then they come back with 2 and we neg to a median. Maybe they include a better benefit package to bring me down in salary request. It's negotiation. And this is how it works. The only way this thing goes south is if nhlpa or NHL refuses to compromise on key issues. I fail to see that happening considering there a huge tv deal going into affect next year which the NHL hasn't had in a decade or more. They cannot and will not take the chance on losing that with any work stoppage. The tv deal is contingent on this cba working out or they terminate it. Way to much to lose of a few percentage in revenue. Or a year or two to Ufa. Or eliminating bonus money. All that will be worked out. What i see is a 52/48 player owner split. 10 percent salary roll back. Same with cap and bonus money to stay along with Ufa age increase two years.

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What i see is a 52/48 player owner split. 10 percent salary roll back. Same with cap and bonus money to stay along with Ufa age increase two years.

So what exactly are the owners giving up in this scenario? Not being a ****...but that is all player give backs. Less revenue, less salary, less bonus money, and UFA goes up. We all know negotiations require give and take..just don't see much give by the owners under your projection.

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I see your concern. Owners want no bonus and 50/50. There are lots of other issues that are in the background . 35 age contracts . Long term contracts. Same salary for each year. Owners will be giving up some of those but let's be clear here. It's the league higher ups who want some changes to salary structure. Not all owners are on board with this. Especially high revenue teams.

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Yah. I don't see any reason why this won't work. It's odd. Nobody is bringing up the fact the union vetoed the realignment for next year. Isn't it odd that was done and now the cba is due for negotiation. It's all tactic. Union has a huge chip the NHL wants. There is plenty to give on both ends

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@Jmdodgesrt4 I feel a lot better about things after reading your post. Excellent point on the tv deal, the only way to grow the league from a fan base perspective is a contract with a major network....*that* is a lot to lose...not to mention the revenue generated. Maybe there is hope??

One of the NHL's team owners now owns a major network that has developed a Cable Sports Network around its brand based in large part on the presence of the NHL.

I can't honestly see Comcast dropping coverage of the NHL on NBC...

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No problem guys. Radoran it's not comcasts money alone. Put this way. Revenue takes a hit it also hurts income to cable companies. They cannot risk losing this money. Infact the cap ceiling,by my calculations, should increase not decrease. Money is there for profits for teams however bettman ruined it by allowing teams to locate where there is no market. Costing owners millions and millions in revenue sharing.

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Radoran it's not comcasts money alone. Put this way. Revenue takes a hit it also hurts income to cable companies. They cannot risk losing this money.

I was responding to jammer talking about keeping a major network deal to grow the sport.

They have a major network deal that's not likely to go away unless someone else floors them with an outbid because Comcast - and it is Comcast's money alone at this point - will want to keep their investment in NBC, NBCSports, the NHL and the Philadelphia Flyers mutually realizing profits from each other.

The Flyers' $70M payroll is a drop in the bucket for Comcast. Even if the Flyers "don't break even" in a year, the added value Comcast receives from all of the ancillary revenue streams (which is not included in "NHL related revenue") is massive. They may "lose" even tens of millions of dollars on the Flyers franchise (they don't) and STILL it's worth the money for them.

Suppose the players start to look for a piece of that added value by restructuring "NHL related revenue" the overall percentage split wouldn't be as much of an issue?

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Sorry, Jammer. I hate to post this, but;

There is posturing then there is posturing. Donald Fehr is not one to mess with. He turned the baseball union into one that really scares the devil out of baseball owners. Look at baseball's collective agreement. The players got and will continue to get exactly what they wanted. If Fehr can hold the players together, Bettman needs to be careful, very careful!

The owner's proposal is just probably a salvo shot across the unions bow to get things started, if not, the NHL owners are in for more than they are bargaining for!

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Believe it or not baseball revenue is not even in the same time zone as the NHL. Yes the nhlpa head is in my professional opinion an amazing union head. He isn't about the glory believe it or not. He does his job and says really nothing to the media. It's all buisness. He is not scary at all. He just has the brians to know what he can get and asks for more. There is way to much to lose here on both sides. Owners will be very vocal towards Bettman as this continues.

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Believe it or not baseball revenue is not even in the same time zone as the NHL. Yes the nhlpa head is in my professional opinion an amazing union head. He isn't about the glory believe it or not. He does his job and says really nothing to the media. It's all buisness. He is not scary at all. He just has the brians to know what he can get and asks for more. There is way to much to lose here on both sides. Owners will be very vocal towards Bettman as this continues.

I think, hope, you are right. Betman is a marketing man. Last go-around he went up against a lightweight. Fehr is smart and knows the game. Hopefully, the owners reel Bettman in.

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http://www.csnphilly.com/hockey-philadelphia-flyers/flyers-talk/NHLs-offer-may-trigger-work-stoppage?blockID=741296&feedID=695

NHL's offer may trigger work stoppage

Well, so much for a summer of cordial labor negotiations between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr.

Sources within the NHLPA confirmed to CSNNE.com over the weekend that the laughable first offer submitted by the NHL last week was indeed not a rumor.

Here is the Greatest Hits package from the offer that left players scratching their heads:

• The players would take an 11 percent cut from 57 percent of the revenue share to 46 percent. And they could take a cut of well over 20 percent as both sides haggle over what actually constitutes Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) in the next collective bargaining agreement.

• The Salary Cap next season would be $52.516 million under the NHL's proposal – or more than $10 million less than it was during the 2011-12 NHL season. The cap ceiling would be just $4 million over the midpoint for each team. (According to capgeek.com 19 NHL teams are already over the proposed cap ceiling and the league is already $130 million in guaranteed money over the allowable salary for next season. The salary cap floor would remain $8 million under the midpoint total for each team.)

• There would be a five-year term limit on player contracts with no signing bonuses, no arbitration rights and a minimum of 10 years of service within the NHL before a player is granted free agency. Currently a player is granted unrestricted free agency after seven NHL seasons or after reaching 27 years of age. Entry-level contracts for rookie players would extend from three years to five years.

And those are just a few of the changes listed in the NHL's draconian opening offer.

The league basically wants a caste system set in place in a league where not a single player is in the top 50 money-earners among US athletes. It wants to scale back player cost and hopes to turn the NHL into a throwback league where players are little more than indentured servants.

In the proposed system the players have little bargaining power or negotiating clout until they are close to 30 years old. Until then, they'll simply have to eat whatever the owners decide to force-feed them as all pro athletes did before the days of Curt Flood in Major League Baseball.

One source from the players’ end of things told CSNNE.com “there wasn’t a single thing in the NHL proposal” that would be embraced or approved by the NHLPA membership. Not even close.

Instead the players are now trying to decide whether they should even accept the league’s first proposal as anything more than a list of stale jokes left over from the NHL Awards show.

It’s interesting that the owners have made this proposal on the heels of their complaints about a broken system they missed an entire season to install in the first place. In reality, they’ve reached record highs in revenue over the last five seasons culminating in a record $3.3 billion last year.

Exhibit A of the league’s hypocrisy: Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leopold complained about the need for a CBA change just months before ladling out $196 million in guaranteed money to both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Here’s what Leopold told the Star Tribune in April: "We're not making money, and that's one reason we need to fix our system. We need to fix how much we're spending right now. [The Wild's] revenues are fine. We're down a little bit in attendance, but we're up in sponsorships, we're up in TV revenue. And so the revenue that we're generating is not the issue as much as our expenses. And [the Wild's] biggest expense by far is player salaries.”

Not a math major, Mr. Leopold, but it sounds like you willingly signed off on one of the biggest free agent spending binges in NHL history.

Plenty of fun can be had with numbers over the course of negotiations, but it's worth noting that that league revenues have gone up by 50 percent since the end of the lockout in 2005. Player salaries have gone up by a rate of 15 percent during the same period of time.

The NHL’s first CBA offer was unreasonable and one-sided, to put it kindly. It points to a summer-long exchange of labor ideas that will be far from the hug-fest both Bettman and Fehr waxed hopeful about during the last few months of the NHL season.

There are normally two types of negotiations in pro sports, no matter what the situation. There is the cordial, professional type of contract talks where both sides want desperately to get a deal done. During those negotiations there are little if any hurt feelings when a resolution has been reached.

A "happily ever after" marriage usually continues on both sides afterward.

Then there are the negotiations where one side is immediately insulted by a lowball offer meant to either A) create dissension between the party they’re negotiating with or B) send a message there really isn’t a desire to reach common ground on a new contract.

I’m willing to go with the former rather than the latter when it comes to the NHL as they have plenty to lose: television deals, rising ratings and record revenues along with that TV jewel known as the Winter Classic.

The NHL also has a group of elite hockey players they have no choice but to employ if they want to keep the good hockey times rolling.

But the league’s recent offer makes a work stoppage a distinct possibility. Both sides are getting ready to meet in New York this week to see if that can be avoided at this early stage of negotiations.

Most industry insiders felt that a few months of the season would probably be missed, much like what the NBA went through last year.

"When looking at labor negotiations you always look toward the other sports," said one industry insider to CSNNE.com. "The NBA didn't get started until Christmas, but attendance and TV ratings were strong by the time the playoffs rolled around. Nobody remembered the work stoppage. So the NHL could survive if they miss a few months."

The presiding feeling was that the season would be back on schedule by December -- or at the very worst case when the Winter Classic was set to arrive on New Year’s Day.

Now those thoughts have been shaken by one miserly, Montgomery Burns-like offer.

It’s unclear whether the NHLPA plans to bring a counter-offer with them to the Big Apple as Bettman and Fehr ready for another round of discussions this week. But it might behoove the NHLPA to let the league know they mean business by coming down hard on the gag-filled first offering.

Perhaps Fehr and his players will take the tact Michael Corleone chose in Godfather II. When Michael was being insulted by a crooked senator during an attempt to venture into the casino business, he provided us this cold-blooded line:

“You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: Nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.”

Perhaps Fehr and Co. could walk into the NHL offices this week, briefcases in hand, and calmly pronounce that their counter-offer is “nothing” and wait until September when owners might suddenly realize they’re killing their sport.

They must understand that missing an entire year so close to the last lockout is akin to league suicide.

But the NHL’s first penny-pinching offer isn’t a good sign that play will get underway without a Zdeno Chara-sized hitch this fall.

In fact, right now, that seems to be the best-case scenario to an increasingly bad situation.

Joe Haggerty is the Bruins insider for CSNNE.com.

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