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*Official* CBA Negotiations and Lockout Thread

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There is a good chance in which we have a situation of a journalist not being able to understand accounting and financing relationships (it happens often).

I am making an assumption here because I haven't seen the books. However, it seems to me that AOC would have made less money that year simply because they didn't charge rent to their number one tenant - the Panthers.

Then the journalist goes on to combine AOC profits with Panthers losses to get net profits. Yes, the ultimate owner is making money after combining non-hockey operations with the Panthers operation results.

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Note: The bolding is mine.

Union: We won’t decertify

By LARRY BROOKS

The option of decertifying as a union was presented to the players in at least a quasi-formal fashion for the first time on Wednesday during a conference call that was open to the full membership of the NHLPA, Slap Shots has learned.

We’re told Don and Steve Fehr outlined three options for the players in the face of the NHL’s ongoing militancy as follows, and in no particular order: 1) Decertification; 2) Capitulation; 3) Continued negotiations in an attempt to end the owners’ lockout.

Sources report that few players expressed interest in opening Doors 1 or 2. Rather, an overwhelming number of players on the call directed union leadership to continue on the path through Door No. 3.

The players were told opting for decertification would not merely represent a legal technicality, it would in fact mean the players would no longer be negotiating as a unified group; indeed, decertification would mean the union would be disbanded.

There was little appetite to adopt that route, though talk of decertification — which presumably would be followed by filing of antitrust action in the U.S and filings in Canada, where labor laws differ throughout the provinces — will inevitably become louder and a more acceptable option for the players if the league continues to stonewall through next month.

We’ll all have a better idea where matters stand once the league and union reconvene in New York tomorrow afternoon.

* If the season is canceled, the Maple Leafs will lose approximately $100 million, the Rangers at least $50 million and the Canadiens somewhat less than that.

Yet not one of these ownership groups is represented on the NHL negotiating committee. And while Toronto GM Brian Burke is on the committee, we’re told the league’s agenda is being plotted all but exclusively by Canceler-in-Chief Gary Bettman and Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs, the hawkish chairman of the Board of Governors.

Indeed, according to one trustworthy individual who attended the negotiating session in New York on Nov. 9, Calgary owner Murray Edwards was at one point silenced by Bettman just a moment after Jacobs leaned over and whispered into the commissioner’s ear.

It is unfathomable that league owners who understand the ramifications of extending this senseless lockout have not demanded Bettman call a Board of Governors meeting for a full airing of the issues.

* Let’s say the parties are separated by as much as $150 million a year following their latest round of proposals and counters.

The difference is all but impossible to accurately gauge given the apples-to-oranges nature of such a comparison and the spin-doctoring that accompanies every exchange — league documents released on Friday, for example, account for a truncated season in the revenue column but a full season in the “make-whole” expense column — but let’s say it’s that much.

That $150 million becomes $5 million per team. And that is actually nothing. It’s nothing because most teams will never spend that $5 million a year. No team is mandated to spend to the cap, only to the floor. Most teams never come within $5 million of the cap. They’re arguing over money they will not only never spend, but never will actually save.

The answer is to drop the floor, either to a percentage of the ceiling, or to $10 million to $12 million below the midpoint as compared to the previous $8 million. The object shouldn’t be to limit how much a team might spend, but to limit how much a team must spend.

It’s astonishing neither side has focused on that issue.

* Here’s what I think: If the NHL were to present a plan under which the Hockey Related Revenue split falls to 50/50 in year three of an eight-year CBA with a transition plan to accommodate cap teams and eliminate front-loaded contracts, I think we’d be no more than a couple of weeks away from a settlement.

There is no doubt there are a significant number of players waiting for the league to make an offer they can accept. But the league continues to make offers the players cannot in good faith even consider.

The owners’ system demands are word-for-word what they were in the league’s opening July 13 proposal that established the tone of this debate.

If that’s the league’s definition of bargaining, they must be handing out unique law dictionaries over at Proskauer Rose.

If the league insists on going to 50/50 immediately as a requirement for unlocking the doors, that should be part of a system featuring a transition period through 2014-15 in which clubs would be permitted to exceed the cap by paying a luxury tax.

The revenue from luxury taxes — say teams could exceed the cap by up 12.3 percent in 2013-14 and up to, say, 7.5 percent in 2014-15 — would go into revenue-sharing and be distributed under league mandate.

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First Christmas ad... this is depressing, no hockey and the winter is coming.

Anyway, glad to see this thread is no longer hijacked by those who agree with the owners, it's like arguing with a republican over social issues long since established. Frankly it's not a debate, one side is attempting to roll back salaries, negate signed contracts and restrict contractual freedoms fought for back in 2004. The other side has at worse asked for status quo. The bottom line is the players haven't tried to push anything new past the owners, while the owners keep trying to push their agenda down the throat of the players.

So fo the rest of us that are level headed, I have to ask how you think tomorrows negotiations might go? I keep being optimistic in hoping for something to happen, but based on serious meetings last week, and the owners voicing their displeasure with Bettman's attempted moratorium, that things might actually get done. Frankly it is of no substantial benefit for the owners to limit contractual freedoms, be that a year extra on ELC or limiting the length of the contract, the bottom line is the players will be paid even if it takes more contracts to do so. It really just restricts the negotiating power of their GMs. I have to think it's more vendetta than reasoning at this point.

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I think the players will back off on some of the contracting rights - it's not as immediate a concern as the fact that they are not playing 'right now'. I think both the owners are working towards a Dec start so that the sponsors can enjoy the rush of rabid fans back to the game just in time for christmas. I'm not sure where the players are at except that if current contracts are more or less honored they'd probably as a group rather be playing than not.

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I hope they come closer together on the make hole provision, to me that's the Key to saving the season.

I'm not all that optimistic though, trying to make a prediction on that is like trying to predict what will 20 years from today, impossible.

I don't have any expectations that something positive will happen, but i'm just going to hope for the best.

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The players concerns that they may very well be looking at another lock out after this CBA is done are very real because quite simply the NHL will likely be faced with the the same problems that has driven and prolonged this lockout. The CBA should include a provision preventing any future prolonged lockouts upon the expiration of the CBA ie. if an agreement cannot be reached 2 months prior to the start of season, the matter will go to arbitration (insert standard procedural arbitration clauses), and include a provision to begin negotiations 4 months prior to the expiration date, and provide audited statements 6 months prior to the expiration date. In other words insert time guidlines to provide some certainties to both parties that the CBA will be negotiated in good faith and in a timely manner. One has to wonder if the NHL is relying on lockouts to fix the financial pickle some teams got themselves into in effect compromising their ability to negotiate the CBA in good faith and potentially contravening any labour laws. The NHL needs to recognize that the problem has not been with the players or their salaries/ contracts but with the existing structure and operations/management of the teams/contracts. The league needs to look at addressing and alleviating the root of the problems ie. suggest internal team caps like the Canucks, and not rely on a band aide solutions by having lockouts and not pay its players to fix its financial woes every single time they have an opportunity to lock them out. This is poor business management and is not good for business nor an effective way of running a professional sports league by hindering what has been successful for the NHL at the expense of a few poorly managed or unsustainable teams. Look to the successful teams and get their input and follow their model. Unless the root of the problems are addressed we'll be revisiting this problem over and over again. You're only as good as your weakest link.

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Anyway, glad to see this thread is no longer hijacked by those who agree with the owners, it's like arguing with a republican over social issues long since established. Frankly it's not a debate, one side is attempting to roll back salaries, negate signed contracts and restrict contractual freedoms fought for back in 2004. The other side has at worse asked for status quo. The bottom line is the players haven't tried to push anything new past the owners, while the owners keep trying to push their agenda down the throat of the players.

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Just to see if I understand you correctly, do you think the old CBA was fine and they should have just rolled it over for another 5 or 10 years?

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While I agree that's a good possibility, it's at least an exercise in realizing just how owners separate their teams and their business related to it. Teams are often under a parent sports company, which is just one of the businesses an owner might have. That parent company will have other companies underneath it, designed to keep profits separate to magnify the team's loss. That doesn't mean the owner is losing money as a result of owning a sports franchise.

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Why wouldn't they have charged the Panthers rent for the lost season? It wasn't know from day 1 of the lockout it would last as long as it did, so it seems presumptuous for them to have released their hold on the arena they would need whenever hockey resumed. Furthermore, what kind of lease would allow a tenant a year off paying simply because they couldn't use it for reasons unrelated to the venue itself?

I absolutely understand your point about the accounting being extremely complicated, but I also see the value in illustrating how they shuffle things around a la a shell game, making it next to impossible to know the truth. That is particularly true being that Forbes likely uses HRR to determine revenue, despite the fact that that number does not include all of the team's revenue and has multiple deductions for costs already taken off. If costs are then applied to that number, it will likely result in some double deductions for the same costs against a lower than actual revenue amount. Therein lies the problem. HRR is designed to limit what players are entitled to share in, not to accurately represent what the team actually makes, even before considering the other layers of companies involved.

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I think the players thought it was fine, and they weren't wrong in thinking that. It is certainly operable while both sides continue negotiations. Players might be the biggest cost of the league, but the more damaging cost is the markets that can't sustain themselves. The Coyotes owned by the NHL, Florida with dismal attendance, Dallas - a huge market making even bigger losses, the bottom line is if you want to cut costs, cut that in which is most 'in the red'. I'm not saying end these markets entirely, relocation to better markets would work just as well.

To answer your question, yes I think it would have been fine to have extended the CBA, maybe not 5 or 10 as the gap would be significant, but certainly another 2 years or at least use the CBA while negotiations are on going. 43% of 82 games is a lot better than 50% of whatever they will salvage from this season.

My point was, as much as you can vilify the players for not caving, they aren't being aggressive in asking for more than the previous CBA. If the players were as greedy as half these clowns make them out to be, then they would be asking for 60% HRR and UFA after a 3 year ELC; but that is Bettman's childish way of negotiating, not the players.

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I absolutely understand your point about the accounting being extremely complicated, but I also see the value in illustrating how they shuffle things around a la a shell game, making it next to impossible to know the truth. That is particularly true being that Forbes likely uses HRR to determine revenue, despite the fact that that number does not include all of the team's revenue and has multiple deductions for costs already taken off. If costs are then applied to that number, it will likely result in some double deductions for the same costs against a lower than actual revenue amount. Therein lies the problem. HRR is designed to limit what players are entitled to share in, not to accurately represent what the team actually makes, even before considering the other layers of companies involved.

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I think the players thought it was fine, and they weren't wrong in thinking that. It is certainly operable while both sides continue negotiations. Players might be the biggest cost of the league, but the more damaging cost is the markets that can't sustain themselves. The Coyotes owned by the NHL, Florida with dismal attendance, Dallas - a huge market making even bigger losses, the bottom line is if you want to cut costs, cut that in which is most 'in the red'. I'm not saying end these markets entirely, relocation to better markets would work just as well.

To answer your question, yes I think it would have been fine to have extended the CBA, maybe not 5 or 10 as the gap would be significant, but certainly another 2 years or at least use the CBA while negotiations are on going. 43% of 82 games is a lot better than 50% of whatever they will salvage from this season.

My point was, as much as you can vilify the players for not caving, they aren't being aggressive in asking for more than the previous CBA. If the players were as greedy as half these clowns make them out to be, then they would be asking for 60% HRR and UFA after a 3 year ELC; but that is Bettman's childish way of negotiating, not the players.

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Following the money is always a challenge.

There are many reasons for ownership to create companies as part of their overall activities other than 'hiding revenue'. Some people like the clarity of forcing a focus on a particular function. ie putting the arena under a seperate entity as it's revenue is not solely derived from the hockey operation. One of the major rationales is limiting liability to the particular function. ie A lawsuit aimed at a function totally seperate from the hockey operation would not impact it. One can also get into the tax ramifications as well. This type of thing doesn't bother me as long as it is obeying the law.

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While I agree with many of your points, I feel the PA is equally to blame for this debacle. There was ample opportunity for them to get together with the NHL earlier last season, but it just didn't happen. It takes two to tango, and I blame them both equally.

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