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"The Players Association's proposal is not responsive to our proposal"


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Donald Fehr has very effectively boxed Gary Bettman into a corner on two, or maybe three or four fronts. First: Bettman's' support among the owners has historically been from the smaller market owners. The Players Union has thrown a bone to the small market owners, by suggesting more money for them via revenue sharing, realizing that the unions intertests are in having many teams, ergo, more players. The NHL's proposal is not geared to change how the smaller market teams receive, or how much they receive of the sharing money. Second: The players Union realizes that the richer teams are frustrated by the "Cap". Ergo- install a modified, limited tax allowing them to exceed the cap. Thus there is an incentive for them to consider the Player's Union proposal. Third the Players are willing to reduce their share of the total revenue, as revenues continue to grow (an assumption, born out by history), and finally, Fourth: They have presented a reasonable proposal, made no demands and have agreed to work through the negotiations without a work lockout. This has won the pole of public opinion.

"Responsive" in legal terms generally means not addressing a specific question. It is not necessarily relevant in a negotiation. Management made their proposal, the union made their proposal. The fact that the Player's Union proposal did not address the management's proposal is not the point. It does not have to be "responsive". It is their proposal. The fact that Mr. Betmann, fell back on the legalistic concept of "responsiveness" suggests, to me, that he was not prepared for union's response and realizes that he has been boxed in, and that by giving any credence to the union's proposal would only lead to his demise.

It's a shame. Mr. Bettman is hired by the owners. He serves at the owners discretion. He is doing their biding. But listening to him on NHL Home Ice, it is apparent that he has a real passion for hockey. It's sad that things can't be workout, there are record earnings, without having a looser: fan, players or owners.

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Donald Fehr has very effectively boxed Gary Bettman into a corner on two, or maybe three or four fronts. First: Bettman's' support among the owners has historically been from the smaller market owners. The Players Union has thrown a bone to the small market owners, by suggesting more money for them via revenue sharing, realizing that the unions intertests are in having many teams, ergo, more players. The NHL's proposal is not geared to change how the smaller market teams receive, or how much they receive of the sharing money. Second: The players Union realizes that the richer teams are frustrated by the "Cap". Ergo- install a modified, limited tax allowing them to exceed the cap. Thus there is an incentive for them to consider the Player's Union proposal. Third the Players are willing to reduce their share of the total revenue, as revenues continue to grow (an assumption, born out by history), and finally, Fourth: They have presented a reasonable proposal, made no demands and have agreed to work through the negotiations without a work lockout. This has won the pole of public opinion.

"Responsive" in legal terms generally means not addressing a specific question. It is not necessarily relevant in a negotiation. Management made their proposal, the union made their proposal. The fact that the Player's Union proposal did not address the management's proposal is not the point. It does not have to be "responsive". It is their proposal. The fact that Mr. Betmann, fell back on the legalistic concept of "responsiveness" suggests, to me, that he was not prepared for union's response and realizes that he has been boxed in, and that by giving any credence to the union's proposal would only lead to his demise.

It's a shame. Mr. Bettman is hired by the owners. He serves at the owners discretion. He is doing their biding. But listening to him on NHL Home Ice, it is apparent that he has a real passion for hockey. It's sad that things can't be workout, there are record earnings, without having a looser: fan, players or owners.

Hockey...in this economy...who knew???

The better not miss a game if both sides are smart.

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The funny thing is, Bettman has gone on the offensive to try and preempt any maneuvering by Fehr.....Fehr, I think was prepared for this but Bettman and the owners never saw it coming.Fehr is being (appearance wise) more than reasonable and addressing some of the hot button items with the weaker owners. This a brilliant move that has left Bettman and boys looking like the greedy, non cooperative people who are dead set on a work stoppage to get only their way or the highway. The fact that Fehr did not even fight the almost 1/2 billion shift to the owners which might be expensive but it has taken any thought of sympathy for Bettman and crew away. Fehr is showing a willingness to negotiate, Bettman and the owners have not. Due to this fact, National Labor Relations Board could step in and direct them to play one more season under the old CBA to give them more time to work out a contract. This lockout if it comes will have a domino affect on all the service jobs that the games require and reek absolute havoc on the local economies and that is something the owners need to take into consideration...

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Its almost like the owners want another lockout because last time they did it they got whatever they wanted. They must feel they can bully the players union into whatever they want. It worked last time.

Fehr made a smart play. Well, he may just genuinely want to negotiate and avoid a work stoppage.

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Due to this fact, National Labor Relations Board could step in

That's an interesting thought, but does the NLRB have any authority over a league that operates in two sovereign nations?

And the Union proposal is an excellent approach to relieving the league's revenue disparity without screwing anyone over, and with incentives for each side. Well played, Fehr!

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Allan Walsh@walsha

Spoke with a top executive with an NHL team this morning. "Gary Bettman is hell bent to destroy the game." Lots of discontent among clubs.

Allan Walsh@walsha

Many people pointing out tdy, this is the deal Bettman+the owners locked the players out for 1 yr to achieve and now refuse to play under.

Allan Walsh@walsha

Want to hear what people working with teams really think, ask Bettman to remove the threat of massive fines for anyone who speaks publicly.

Allan Walsh@walsha

It's true. Any NHL owner, GM or team employee that makes an unauthorized public comment about CBA is subject to a massive fine by Bettman.

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am i the only one who thinks the Players Union actually gave up too much in their first volley!? i like what they submitted, but i think the salary rollback concession was too much to put forward in the first round. however, i do think it shows that they are being more than reasonable in these negotiations.

I think what bettman knows is that the players have that lockout fresh in their minds. losing an entire season for any career is fairly much bigger for them than an owner losing a season.

i might also be alone in my belief that they will actually get something hammered out before sept. 15. i really wouldn't underestimate that both sides know just how bad a lockout is for the entire league. still... the league needs to budge for this to happen.

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i do think it shows that they are being more than reasonable in these negotiations

Yup, I think that was what they were after and why they felt they had to give what they gave. They are winning in the eyes of the fans, and they must think that will count for something. I'm not sure it will, but they clearly do.

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@Bakanekimiwa I think Fehr might have given up to much on the first volley, but he accomplished a few things in doing so....

1)put the public opinon squarly in the players corner

2)effectively split the ownership and instuited his divide and conquer game plan

Jammer, I think that you hit the nail on the head. One other thought has come to mind. Do you suppose that Fehr and the Players Union structured their proposal to take Bettman out?

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From what I have heard, Betteman has pretty solid support from the owners, but at the very least, it puts him in the awkward positon oh having to suck up to the real power broker owners while having to placate the financially strapped owners at the same time. The split is real, but the 8-10 super powerful owners still run this thing....Betteman knows where his bread is buttered.

That's why the NFL has revenue sharing of 60% and the NHL has revenue sharing at 6%.....cause the big boys want to hold onto their cash, and as long as that happens, his job is safe. That is also why Betteman is trying to force the players into being part of the solution, when everyone knows this is all a problem that lies directly at the feet of the owners and their utter and complete failure to divy up the pie properly among themselves. 7 straight years of record breaking profit says I'm right.

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Bettman for sure wants to keep all the smaller-market, non-traditional market teams going. He'd slit his wrists and forsake his darling Sid before he agreed to contraction - and he's nearly as preternaturally opposed to relocations if they don't suit his idea of perfect geographic distribution. So he's facing some bottom-up pressure (sorry for that phrasing) to get something approved by the big-time owners that enhances the ability of small-market teams to spend wisely and still compete.

Meantime, he's facing a really reasonable proposal (by the parts we've seen) from his nemesis, who so far is clearly winning the PR battle but who is known for being just as recalcitrant (fancy word for ****) and is superb at the Art of Spin.

What we have here is a perfect storm of egos and stubbornness, in a situation where some good-faith negotiations would reveal much common ground and illuminate a few paths to an agreement that benefits both labor and management.

Revenue sharing can be a double-edged sword, but the NHL needs to improve it. Clearly, the definition of Revenue and the precise means to share and distribute it (to small-market clubs and the players) are the keys to solving this problem. But if the revenue is too generous, or a luxury tax too light, would that lead to -- crudely put -- a welfare-state of lower-market teams living on the dole and a few more high-flyers who then pillage the talent and relegate the others to farm teams, player-development operations? MLB comes to mind here (note the Fehr connection and frown).

Or is there some more perfect means of revenue definition/sharing that creates a more equitable competitive situation? Think NFL, where there is more competitive and revenue parity (albeit in a more roundly popular sport in the US). There must be something that can bring this about, if the parties can actually work in good faith without digging trenches and lobbing artillery at each other while their teeth and feet rot. Not that we're gonna have a beer-soaked internet conversation and fix everything ;) .

Feel free to comment, and to decry my strained analogies.

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They are winning in the eyes of the fans, and they must think that will count for something. I'm not sure it will, but they clearly do.

I'm not sure either. I don't think public opinion matters. No matter how reasonable an offer the players make, Bettman will turn it down. It's how he makes points with the owners. He doesn't want a solution now. He wants to appear strong and resolute, because that's the way he'll keep his job.

I'm afraid we're in for a long wait before NHL hockey is played again. If I was Fehr, I'd up the ante at every meeting. The owners will settle when they're good and ready, and the players backing down won't speed up the process.

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@blocker

I agree re: what Fehr should do. The comments that Fehr makes in the news are outstanding communication pieces in and of themseleves. I respect him and the players for getting their **** together in that respect. The owners are behaving like asssses by letting Bettman conduct himself this way, they deserve to be punished for that alone. There is only one way for fans to punish them, as we all know.

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@blocker

The owners are behaving like asssses by letting Bettman conduct himself this way, they deserve to be punished for that alone. There is only one way for fans to punish them, as we all know.

I agree, but as pissed as I was after the last lockout, I came back like a lemming. We all did. And we'll do it again.

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Yeah, I know.

Except it's not true of everyone. I know people who stopped following NHL hockey after the lockout, but it's only a couple and they were moving away from the game already. Too many trades, too hard to keep track etc. The lockout was kind of the last straw.

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Why should profitable, well-managed teams fund those teams that either mismanaged or unprofitable or both? If they're mismanaged, they need new management. If they're unprofitable, they need to change the way they do business or sell. Isn't that how business works?

Seriously, the NHLPA's offer might sound 'reasonable', but it's just as self-serving as what the owners are doing.

While the NHL Players' Association and executive director Donald Fehr said Tuesday that the players are willing take a smaller percentage of revenues in a new collective bargaining agreement, other details have emerged from the union's proposal as well.

According to TSN hockey analyst Aaron Ward, the offer also calls for a limit on 'non-player' spending such as costs for head coaching, front office and management payrolls.

In addition, the union's proposal suggests - at the discretion of both the NHL and NHLPA on a case-by-case basis - giving extra draft picks to teams in financial trouble.

The players' offer also allows for franchises in distress under special circumstances to be permitted to trade or sell up to $4 million in cap space to another team - giving the team a way of adding another 'paycheque.'

As presented by Fehr on Tuesday, the proposal already includes delinking the salary cap from hockey-related revenue and setting a fixed rate - increasing by two per cent for the first year, four per cent for the second and six per cent for the third. Afterwards, the players would hold an option to have the fourth year revert back to the current system, where they are entitled to receive 57 per cent of all revenues.

By the NHLPA's calculations, the deal could see players give up as much as US$465 million in revenue if the league continues to grow at an average rate for the next three seasons.

So now, on top of the fact that successful, profitable teams need to fund the poorer teams, they get to watch them receive extra draft picks?? Can you imagine Pittsburgh getting EXTRA draft picks on top of Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, and Staal?? That makes no sense.

The only reason the association is hell bent on helping out poorer teams is to save JOBS. Period. As long as players get their millions, and jobs are saved, they could care less how the underlying franchise is actually doing.

And that last bit in the above article... in 3 years, the players' share of revenues will be right back where it is now under the NHLPA proposal. Essentially, a band-aid solution that allows them to look good in the eyes of the 'public', whoever that might be.

The league should counter with contraction and non-guaranteed contracts if it is to consider the PA offer seriously.

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Seriously, the NHLPA's offer might sound 'reasonable', but it's just as self-serving as what the owners are doing.

This is where the process of actually "negotiating" comes in...If you are serious about trying to save the season, you make a counter proposal, if you want a lock out just because you want your way or the highway then I call bull$hit. Contraction sounds so easy when it is not your team going away. It decimates an entire local economy when you lose a team. Restaurants, maintenance, vendors, and countless other businesses that will suffer the domino effect. The NHLPA is at least making an effort.....I can't say the same for the Owners....

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This is where the process of actually "negotiating" comes in...If you are serious about trying to save the season, you make a counter proposal, if you want a lock out just because you want your way or the highway then I call bull$hit. Contraction sounds so easy when it is not your team going away. It decimates an entire local economy when you lose a team. Restaurants, maintenance, vendors, and countless other businesses that will suffer the domino effect. The NHLPA is at least making an effort.....I can't say the same for the Owners....

Totally agree that contraction is hard on the local economy. But the same is true when you close a mine, or mill, or call center, or when any large business moves to a different location. But that's the reality of business and a so-called 'free market economy'. There are successes and failures. An NHL team is not a 'public' good, like telephone service, airline service, or (increasingly), broadband internet connectivity. These industries are regulated by the government as private entities providing a service that is a public good. A professional sports team is a luxury for large markets that can support them.

The players are just as much to blame as the owners for commanding ever-escalating salaries that make it almost impossible for small market teams to turn a profit.

True, the NHLPA is making an effort, but it is still self-serving and only looks good on the surface (but I have not seen the entire proposal). But on the other hand, contract limits help small market teams. The Flyers won't be able to come in and offer gargantuan contracts for 14+ years that effectively price smaller teams out of the market for the $ value and the term commitment. It might not be seen that way, but I'm pretty sure the Flyers, Rangers, Leafs, Hawks, Wings, etc are not in favour of them... though I'm sure they prefer them to more revenue-sharing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am not at all encouraged by the preceedings thus far. My stance is that while no one is paying to see the owners but the players, the owners take the risk financially. While hockey cannot be compared to the other major sports where they have huge television contracts, the revenue split does need to be changed. I would do 55 - 45 in the players behalf which allows the owners to recoup some money and save face in the process. I would even go as low as 53 - 47 if it means starting the season on time.

As far as the cap is concerned I hate it. I think the simple solution is to weight the cap by the revenue a team generates. For example if the Flyers generate 18% of the total league revenue then they should have cap amnesty up to 18%. If Toronto generates 20%, then they can spend 20% over the cap. That way the more successful teams helping to keep the smaller market teams afloat get to spend more. When the higher revenue teams get to spend more (in theory) they should be more competitive and successful which helps the leagues exposure.

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@Dynamo 47 " As far as the cap is concerned I hate it. I think the simple solution is to weight the cap by the revenue a team generates. For example if the Flyers generate 18% of the total league revenue then they should have cap amnesty up to 18%. If Toronto generates 20%, then they can spend 20% over the cap. That way the more successful teams helping to keep the smaller market teams afloat get to spend more. When the higher revenue teams get to spend more (in theory) they should be more competitive and successful which helps the leagues exposure."

Great idea, as Jean-Luc would say....MAKE IT SO!!!!

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Why should profitable, well-managed teams fund those teams that either mismanaged or unprofitable or both? If they're mismanaged, they need new management. If they're unprofitable, they need to change the way they do business or sell. Isn't that how business works?

Because the profitable, well-managed teams decided they wanted the expansion fees from cities which were unfamiliar hockey markets.

In that effort to grow the game and make it a truly continental North American sport, that is what is required.

That's how business works - you need to invest in new markets before they become profitable.

And, again - NFL.

For the record: I'm on board for either contraction or a relegation system.

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