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Slegr

Francesco Aquilini the Puppet Master

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wait, you DON'T like arguing for endless hours about politics and religion? Where's your sense of fun buddy?

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I find it interesting how on the eve of the lock-out deadline, Donald Fehr was surrounded by an army of players, while it was just Gary Bettman by himself on TV, acting as the face of ownership.

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The NHL may have presented a unanimous front, but there is significant competition between them, and are significant contradictions between their interests. There is also obviously a huge disparity between the revenues of the have and have not franchises. Naturally they are presenting a unanimous front - they aren't stupid - this is a negotiation process where they are attempting to leverage the players to take some responsibility for propping up the peripheral non-hockey markets, which they are collectively using as the 'necessity' behind their lockout.

Aside from the fact that the owners have very different interests (or non-interest) in a lockout, they are also faced with the irony that the players are proposing a greater revenue sharing pool. This is, in large part, why I am leaning towards the players side of negotiations at this point.

I think behind closed doors, the owners no doubt have to deal with far more divisive issues. The process gets very complicated because the NHL has to work out their own contradictions in a negotiation where they are also attempting to get the most return vs the players' interests. We've all seen teams agreeing to contracts with UFAs (even a smaller market, albeit northern hockey market team like Minnesota) that simply defy their stated collective interest and illustrate the contradiction in the claims of an unfair ownership revenue share. An additional factor that leans me towards the players is the fact that teams have entered into these contracts freely, as a result of competition between franchises to acquire the services of UFAs. To then collectively refuse to honour the terms they individually entered into is an odd part of the process mitigated by the process of re-engaging in Collective Bargaining. In this sense I dont' see them operating as a typical business must - there are different legal consequences if a business hopes to reneg on a contract, and in what other form of business can you count on your competitors to subsidize you if you are a failing venture? Teams that are unable to survive are not subject to the typical grow or die of the market - they have the benefit and the limitations, as another poster mentioned, of being part of a collective entity. To try to put left/right labels on things is to oversimplify them - the NHL (owners) are already a hybrid/mixed economy of sorts, with 'left and right' elements structured together. It is very difficult to simply support the owners - to do so is to support a bunch of contradictions. If all the teams were in the position of the small southern non-hockey market franchises, supporting the owners would be a no-brainer (and teams wouldn't be behaving as they have). If all teams were in a position like the Rangers, Leafs etc, supporting the players would be a no-brainer. But the way the NHL internally addresses these issues is opaque - to simply trust the way they present their 'collective' financial hardship would be exceedingly naive.

I am not interested in getting into political ideology - I think it winds up dumbing us all down. It's been a long time since I identified with left or right or particular ideologies and it doesn't help me personally to try to reduce this dispute into those kind of terms. As I said, I am leaning towards the players because of the manner in which specific issues are being addressed - the players have seemed more mindful to speak to those issues, whereas the NHL doesn't seem particularly concerned to address them publicly - they see it as a supply and demand marketplace where they are (at least collectively) in a position of strength and aren't really terribly concerned with fan perception or public opinion - at least not as things stand - and fair enough - they are a business that is weighing it's interests and they are probably correct to assume that demand will remain regardless of the optics of this dispute.

People on both sides are suggesting analogies that make this into an owner/employer, player/employee relation. The differences are so significant that the analogy falls apart as soon as you start to analyze it. The owners have less power than a typical employer/employee relationship, for a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which is their own collective limitations, and the relative wealth and ability of players to financially endure a lockout. The terminology of a players 'union' suggests that they are employees - but it is just as easy to see them as contractors, particularly once they succeed their ELC and have the freedom to offer their services in a bid for the best contract offer if they so desire. In reality they have the power of management class in the marketplace, and few people consider the middle class to be workers/employees. I'm not particularly concerned with how they divide up the 3.3 billion, but I have felt the contradictions coming out of Bettman's position are more patronizing than the feel-good commercials of the players... For me, if the owners return promptly with a revenue sharing plan that rivals the one the player's proposed, the field will be somewhat levelled. I'm not particularly concerned with how they divide up the 3.3 billion - but the fact the owners have locked out under the circumstances and are proposing a smaller revenue sharing pool makes it difficult for me to see why I should support their position.

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I'm not claiming to know everything but I'm just using my brain here instead of just blindly following the crowd but you really think Aqulini has a problem with the current system? You think he's in favor of shutting the league down losing out on millions, losing out on a sold out Rogers Arena every game no matter what, holding out for a deal that will probably end up making him pay out MORE in revenue sharing to the have not teams only for them to use that money to drive up the prices of FA's that the Canucks want to sign? I'm pretty confident if it was his call, the NHL would be in training camp right now under the terms of the previous agreement.

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I find it interesting how on the eve of the lock-out deadline, Donald Fehr was surrounded by an army of players, while it was just Gary Bettman by himself on TV, acting as the face of ownership.

But let's not fool ourselves. Gary Bettman is just the figure head for owners. They pay him big bucks to say what they don't want to say to the public. He is boo'd by every single team's fans in the NHL, yet his job security is bullet proof because the owners love him. He is truly their puppet.

When Gary Bettman was standing alone, announcing the NHL has locked out its players, he might as well have been holding hands with our own Francesco Aquilini. Our owner is one of 30 who is offering the players a raw deal. Aquilini is more at fault for this lockout than Bettman because Bettman is just following the demands of owners.

Canucks fans tend to talk so favourably about Aquilini, because he has opened the purse strings and allowed this organization to compete at the cap limit for several years. He has invested in unique strategies and created a healthy, winning environment for players and fans.

But he is still an owner, and an influential power in an unnecessary lock-out. So, as a reminder, don't hate Bettman, even though he is so easy to hate. He's just the messenger. It's time we recognized who the real culprits are, and keep them accountable.

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Don't be fooled, he is not just a puppet (GB). You don't pay a puppet millions and millions unless he can provide value for service. He is educated, eloquent and precise. He knows the financials of the game better than almost anyone and he convinces owners to send their income to other owners who do not earn as much (see revenue sharing).

If GB was let go, he would get hired by another set of owners in a second.

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I'm not claiming to know everything but I'm just using my brain here instead of just blindly following the crowd but you really think Aqulini has a problem with the current system? You think he's in favor of shutting the league down losing out on millions, losing out on a sold out Rogers Arena every game no matter what, holding out for a deal that will probably end up making him pay out MORE in revenue sharing to the have not teams only for them to use that money to drive up the prices of FA's that the Canucks want to sign? I'm pretty confident if it was his call, the NHL would be in training camp right now under the terms of the previous agreement.

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Sadly, I'm afraid it's not as obvious to everyone, because you'll never see any reporting with "lock-out" and "Aquilini" in the same story, only "Bettman" and "lock-out".

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I think you guys might be a bit under-informed and underselling Bettman's role in the lockout. He recently had the NHL bylaws changed so that he only needs the support of EIGHT owners in order to turn down any NHLPA proposals:

http://twitter.com/w...075057878925312

Anyone who has that kind of control cannot just be a mouthpiece. He's an agent, yes, but I think it might be he who is advising the owners on what needs to be done and so much not the other way around.

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What a refreshing thread; certainly it is the absolute first time I have read the name Aquillini in regards to the lockout on this forum. Aquillini's track record is well known especially to poor people in Vancouver so I'm betting he's totally on board with the lockout. It is astonishing to me how many people whine about "greedy players" in this the THIRD LOCKOUT of Bettman's tenure. I for one hope it lasts several seasons and the NHL is forced to transform itself into a hockey league that concentrates on markets where hockey is not only known about but is also massively popular. The South ain't gonna cut it no matter how low the Canadian dollar goes and with it hovering around par with the US dollar the southern sun belt teams are doomed. I say lose most of them, divvy up the players to the survivors and set up a minor pro league in the south that better reflects the relative popularity of the sport there. Maybe call it something like the IHL.

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Old News:

A particularly good post which one expects when they see your name on it.

I perhaps have been guilty in being sidetracked on this discussion.

Clarification: You suggested the players had 'proposed a greater revenue sharing pool'. Could you flesh that out a little more?

You also suggested that the competition for UFA'a and the resulting large contracts were simply the competiton for players and the game they play on the ice. I would suggest that there could be a number of business reasons for these bidding wars. Any franchise in a challenged market might feel forced to pay for a UFA player to retain their market. Losing a particular player could hurt their marketing, their team morale, or turn fans against the GM or coaching.

You stated that you thought the players had been more open with the public which I agree with. Bottom line however is that move is easier for the players to do than it is the owners. Fans know what the players make. Having public sympathy is one of the few tools that the players can use in this negociation. Bettman has always played his cards close and I think some of that is respecting the parties involved. Most of the ownership are not public companies and their affairs are private.

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Hockey survives in hockey markets.

Florida is 'snow bird' territory so it survives.

Phoenix,which should survive with 'snow birds' is a constant drain and drama.

This Bettman NHL expanded into the south on the lure of TV contracts that never materialised.

The sooner the teams that carry the dead wood get together and spell it out for those they are carrying,the better and faster the health of the entire league will become.

Time to end the Bettman nightmare and that is up to the clubs with the greatest revenue to orchestrate,together.

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If the Canucks play a full season they make a great deal of money for the franchise. If there is a full season lockout, the team will lose money. If Aquilini is so 'underhanded' that he will do anything to make a buck, don't you think he would also not want a lockout?? When the owners had their so-called vote which was apparently unanimous, Francesco was being held down by 4 of the other owners, while Bettman was holding Aquilini's arm up with all his strength....there is no way the Canucks owner wants a lockout. Use some intelligence in this, not blind hatred.

Bettman has enough support among the owners to do what he wants, he broke the union head last time, this time the union brings in 'the ace' so now Bettman wants to show Donald Fehr who the big boss is....

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I bet there are 10 owners who don't want a lockout. They can't say anything against it otherwise they will be fined a million dollars. The vote had to be unanimous otherwise Bettman would look like a buffoon. This is about propping up poor market teams. Bettman looked dumb last year with Atlanta moving and he wants to have the upper hand this time.

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Imagine wrapping up a billion dollars in a Canadian franchise and having hockey trying to be peddled in Atlanta and deep southern states where girls mud wrestling is better understood than ice hockey?

The Canadian owners have to be shaking their heads trying to rid themselves of the Bettman albatross.

Edmonton is said to need a new arena to make it and yet they have to funnel millions of dough down south so that Gary can expand into the land of the elusive TV deal that never manifests itself.

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