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*Official* CBA Negotiations and Lockout Thread

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Gary Bettman's labour of love:

You get the feeling that Gary Bettman loves his lockouts.

This is Bettman's thing: Shut down the league, grind the players to powder, go back to the owners and get his own salary bumped up for having satisfied the owners' greed.

Then come back five or 10 years later and say the salary system he shut down the league to get is unworkable, so he has to shut it down again.

Why? Because he wants to. Because he can.

Last time round, it seemed like the owners had a case. We were on the fence, until the latter stages of the lockout when Bettman morphed into Richard M. Nixon.

This time, it is Bettman who has presented an entirely irrational plan, one the NHL players' association would be mad to accept -- and it is PA executive director Donald Fehr who responded with a proposal so rational, so well thought out, that we actually hoped Bettman might accept it, at least as a starting point for a new approach.

Nyet!

There is no rationale whatsoever for the coming lockout. The only problem -- the only problem - is that the rich owners don't want to share some of their largesse with struggling, small-market franchises. They'd rather take it out of the players' hide, which is where Bettman comes in: bilking the players is his specialty.

Never mind that the players are the ones who risk career-ending injuries every time they step on the ice. Never mind that too many of the best of them have been plunged into the twilight world of the long-term concussion. Never mind that most of the owners risk nothing at all, because they're specialists at playing with other people's money.

Never mind that Bettman loves to tout the fact that revenue has increased from $2.2 billion to $3.3 billion since the last lockout. Bettman looks to the dysfunctional National Football League and to his former mentor, the little dictator David Stern of the National Basketball Association, for business models. In those leagues, owners and players cordially hate one another and every new CBA means another war.

Fehr asked that the NHL look instead to Major League Baseball, which is approaching 20 years of labour peace since the 1994 strike that cost the Montreal Expos their shot at a World Series. Baseball has worked out a business model that works for everyone: players, owners, networks, apparel companies, sponsors and fans.

But that isn't Bettman's way. His way is an alley fight, and this time he's going to get it because the considerable figure of Donald Fehr stands between Bettman and his latest cash grab. Not since the birth of the NHLPA have the players been so unified or so well-led.

Fehr has a hammer: Jan. 1. New Year's Day, 2013. That thoroughly silly outdoor game called the Winter Classic, even though winter is a vanishing season. This one is to be played at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., in front of 115,000 people and a boffo television audience on NBC.

Bettman wants that game. NBC wants that game. The owners want that game. How much do they want it? That's what Fehr has to find out. His message to Bettman will have to be a simple one: "If you want to play the Winter Classic, start acting like a reasonable human being and stop trying to rob my players blind."

Trouble is, a pit bull like Bettman doesn't go into negotiations with such an obvious Achilles heel. If he wasn't willing to sacrifice the Winter Classic, he wouldn't have a chance. You can hold out some hope that the latest lockout will be resolved by then, but no one connected with the game should be surprised if we're having the same discussion a year from now, following another lost season.

Why? Because Gary Bettman loves lockouts -- a great deal more than he loves hockey.

How sweet it is, Part 1: They were up against a pretty good Eskimos team in Edmonton. They were missing Jamel Richardson and Brandon Whitaker. The Eskimos had just added Cory Boyd.

Result? The Montreal Alouettes put a royal stomping on Edmonton on Friday, even if some garbage-time points made the score look closer than it was. Anthony Calvillo went to Brandon London and S.J. Green, Victor Anderson took up the slack for the missing Whitaker -- but the most critical performance came from an increasingly aggressive defence.

After a somewhat shaky beginning, defensive coordinator Jeff Reinebold is moulding this unit into one of the best in the league. If you recall the way last season ended, with the Als surrendering basketball scores to the opposition, you know how important a shutdown defence will be to any possible Grey Cup run.

How sweet it is, Part 2: Late last Monday night, the Washington Nationals beat the San Francisco Giants out on the Left Coast, 14-2 -- a few hours after the Philadelphia Phillies whupped the Miami Marlins 4-0.

That left the Marlins 20 games behind the high-flying Nationals -- the best team in baseball. Yep. The once-woebegone franchise is back where the Expos were in 1994.

Yours truly has been looking for a baseball team to support since the Expos left town. The Red Sox were OK for a while, until they loaded their rotation with obnoxious pitchers like Josh Beckett and John Lackey and became the most dysfunctional team in the game. Now we like the Orioles in the AL East.

The Giants would do in the NL, except they play on the Left Coast. The Phillies have faded. That leaves our once and future team, the Expos/Washington Nationals. Young, talented and on top of baseball.

And best of all, 20 games up on the Loria Samsons.

And we leave you with this parting thought: The more we see of the regrettable Sir Paul McCartney, the more certain we are that without John Lennon, the Beatles would have been the Monkees.

Heroes: Clara Hughes, Simon Whitfield, Melissa Tancredi, Christine Sinclair, Mo Farah, Anthony Calvillo, Brandon London, S.J. Green, Rod Davis, Dwight Anderson, Victor Anderson, Jeff Reinebold, Felix Hernandez, Mike Trout, Petra Kvitova, Max Pacioretty, John Lennon, Fabrice Muamba, and last but not least, Donald Fehr.

Zeros: Jeremy Jacobs, Ed Snider, Bruce Jenner, Maurice Greene, Jacques Rogge, Carl Lewis, Melky Cabrera, Jeffrey Loria, David Samson, Claude Brochu, the Miami Marlins, Paul McCartney, Robin van Persie, NASCAR, and last but not least, Gary Bettman.

http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Gary+Bettman+labour+love/7114364/story.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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I believe the players NEED to have a lockout, or more specifically a strike...

1) the owners/GM's have repetitively shown themselves to be incapable of control WRT ridiculous contracts and salary offers. The desire to one-up or get that one player who will push them over the top is too strong.

2) the restraint, pain, constraints, cost etc. with the failure of item 1 is too weak to change the way the owners/GM's behave

3) ergo, unless the CBA is redone to provide this restraint, the owners/GM's will not change their ways

4) currently, the owners simply roll back the clock every time a CBA comes due

5) as long as the players will allow it (rolling over on a new CBA), the owners effectively use the player's money/salaries to undo/pay for what is effectively an inability for owners to control themselves.

6) therefore this CBA MUST (from a player's perspective) provide the ironclad restraint that forces the owners to police themselves. There must be a mechanism to separate the owner's largess from becoming the player's problem (yes I realize that the players profit from this largess, but it's the owners who are offering these ridiculous contracts.

7) anything less, there will be another lockout next CBA etc, lather, rinse, repeat...

GB

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Yakupov has 1 year of junior eligibility left, however agent Igor Larionov says he will not return to Sarnia Sting if there is a lockout.

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Willes: Money is only language NHL owners understand:

They’re a day late — which is the story of my career — but here’s a special edition of the musings and meditations on the world of sports.

■ Last week, as the NHL and the PA settled in for what promises to be a long and spectacularly dreary battle, free-agent defenceman Chris Campoli summed up the essence of the conflict in six simple words.

“Basically, they just want more money.”

Campoli will always be remembered fondly in these parts for the turnover that led to Alex Burrows’ overtime goal in Game 7 of the Hawks-Canucks opening-round series in 2011.

Turns out he should be admired for other reasons.

The “they” in this case are the NHL owners and over the next four months — we’re setting the over-under for a new deal at Dec. 15 — you will hear and read countless arguments and counter-arguments about the NHL’s latest work stoppage.

There will be detailed explanations as each side attempts make its case.

There will be a number of interpretations of the game’s economy and how to best move forward.

As we learned in ’91, ’94 and 2004, it will all be either infuriating or just tiresome.

But it will all come back to the same thing.

The owners want more money. This is all you need to know about the current impasse.

Eight years after the game was shut down for a season, the owners and their henchman Gary Bettman are back.

They got everything they wanted last time — a reduction in salaries, a hard cap, entry-level restrictions, and all with only modest revenue sharing — and they said that deal would ensure the game’s prosperity.

Now they want more. Now they want to fix it so they can’t lose.

Maybe it’s understandable. They crushed the union last time. They feel they can do it again.

When you are motivated by greed, this is the way you think.

But there’s a huge difference in 2012.

In ’04, there was some sympathy for the owners and their plight. In ’04, the PA was led by Bob Goodenow and there was a sense that salaries had grown out of control and had to be brought back in line.

That isn’t the case this time.

The league has the tools. But they’re preoccupied with getting more and giving less. You just hope they don’t insult their fans’ intelligence by claiming otherwise.

■ Way to go, Augusta National.

On Monday, the stewards of one of golf’s greatest courses moved boldly forward and extended memberships to not one, but two women: former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore.

The wearers of the green jacket then congratulated themselves for their enlightened thinking before retreating safely back to their clubhouse, where it’s still 1963.

Look, we don’t have the time or energy to open up this debate again, and we know rich, self-satisfied white guys make an easy target.

But how do you take this seriously?

Are we to applaud Augusta National for doing the right thing 30 years too late? Are we to congratulate them for finally grasping that they live in the 21st century?

Augusta National claims it’s a private club and, therefore, entitled to make its own rules, but it’s so much more than that.

There’s a huge public component to the club. It’s also in a position of prestige and influence.

It should, in short, be setting an example, not clinging to a way of life that, mercifully, passed out of the rest of society about the time of the first Nixon administration.

■ That sound you heard was another Blue Jays season being flushed down the toilet.

■ Reason No. 3,455 to love the CFL: Moments after the Lions-Roughriders game on Sunday, your agent stopped Leos centre Angus Reid for a comment.

This is the first thing he said: “How was London?”

Can’t really see Ryan Kesler asking the same thing.

■ Finally, Lions cornerback Dante Marsh plays one of the toughest positions in the Canadian game.

At 33, he’s now in his ninth season of playing that position, which qualifies him for some kind of CFL lifetime achievement award.

On Sunday, he also supplied the game’s key play when his third-quarter interception and 43-yard return snuffed out a Saskatchewan drive and led to a field goal that gave the Lions a 10-3 lead.

The discussion over the best defensive back in Lions’ history includes Larry Crawford, Bill Munsey and Eric Carter.

It should also include Marsh.

http://www.theprovince.com/sports/owners+just+want+more+money+talks+with+NHLPA/7118998/story.html

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‏@aaronward_nhl

According to players attending NHLPA meeting in Kelowna,focus was on details of both NHL/NHLPA proposals.Theme likely to change tomorrow.

@aaronward_nhl

Players of note in attendance include Getzlaf, Weber, Iginla, Myers, Seabrook, B. Schenn, Tootoo, Hamhuis, Malholtra, Reimer. #TSN

Two Canucks players in attendance!

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NHL-NHLPA reach important stage of talks on CBA:

Where do we go from here?

As the NHL and NHL Players’ Association resume collective bargaining talks, that is the question they’re both seeking to answer.

The sides stepped away from negotiations last week with competing bids on the table and no clear road ahead. They spoke again over the weekend and agreed to devote sessions Wednesday and Thursday entirely to core economic issues – the area where the parties seem to have the most ground to make up.

“We are hoping that our meetings this week can serve as a jumping off point for further discussion and negotiation over the critical economic and system issues that we need to resolve in order to reach an agreement,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Tuesday in an email.

Essentially, it’s time to see how much each side is willing to move off its current position, if at all.

While a significant gap exists between the two proposals when it comes to the amount of money available to players, there is some common ground. The union’s decision to keep a hard salary cap in place was an important step in the process and its willingness to accept less than 57 per cent of revenues – for three years, anyway – seemed to indicate it was trying to work with the NHL.

“We thought it was a compromise,” Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, told reporters last week.

Even though commissioner Gary Bettman offered a cold public response to the union’s “alternate view” – as Fehr termed the proposal – it was clearly a step in the right direction. Are the players willing to go even further? How far will the league move off its proposal, which called for new contract restrictions and player salaries based on 43 per cent of revenue?

The sides are operating in the shadow of a Sept. 15 deadline, when the current CBA is set to expire and the NHL has said players will be locked out.

Talks are tentatively scheduled for the next two weeks in New York so there is plenty of room for continued dialogue if the parties can start getting on the same page in the coming days.

Beyond the monetary issue at the heart of talks, each side has prioritized a secondary cause.

The NHLPA has made it clear that it would like to see an increase in revenue sharing and proposed the creation of an industry growth fund that would see $100-million contributed each year for struggling teams. It would be part of a wider plan totalling $250-million in annual redistributed funds and Bettman would be given the chance to decide how the money from the industry growth fund is spread around.

“The idea was to come up with specific team-by-team plans to stabilize this industry and put the difficulties behind us,” said Fehr.

The NHL is largely happy with the current economic system, but has made no secret of the fact it would like to see the end to heavily front-loaded, long-term contacts. As part of its proposal, deals would be capped at five years and would be required to pay the same amount each season.

So far, the NHLPA has said players would like rules governing contracts to remain the same.

However, it’s reasonable to assume that the secondary issues could be taken care of once there’s some movement on the primary one. The tone of this week’s talks should offer a good indication of whether that will happen in time for a deal to be completed before Sept. 15.

“Hopefully we’ll find a way during that process to achieve more common ground than we have so far,” said Fehr.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/nhl-nhlpa-reach-important-stage-of-talks-on-cba/article4492365/

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I just want to see the Staal Brothers vs the Schenn Brothers vs the Sedin Brothers. Is that too much to ask??

Fire Bettman's troll ass.

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I just want to see the Staal Brothers vs the Schenn Brothers vs the Sedin Brothers. Is that too much to ask??

Fire Bettman's troll ass.

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I think the NHLPA's offer, with the growth fund, is absolutely brillliant. It snatches up the support of the struggling franchises, while stroking Bettman's ego. Is it not he who would dole out that extra 100 mil?

After reading about the The players' offter, I am hopeful.

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Gary Bettman and the owners should take a collective leap off the tallest building in the world...

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If this isn't resolved soon, I say that someone step up, grab all the NHLPA representatives, the NHL representatives and the owners and lock them up in a room (without any communications to the outside world) and don't release them until they finish the negotiations.

That'll be much faster than a meeting every few weeks and an occasional phone call. I mean, these guys do make millions right? Why can't they be meeting more frequently.

Think of how sad it would be for the people working in the arenas or for the team, to lose their jobs (which probably pay them 20-40k a year) because a group of guys who are paid millions to play a kids games can't make an agreement with a bunch of billionaires...

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I just want to see the Staal Brothers vs the Schenn Brothers vs the Sedin Brothers. Is that too much to ask??

Fire Bettman's troll ass.

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just heard on 1040 that CBA negotiations have been cancelled for today. WTH!

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Bettman's having his special lady day so CBA negotiations are cancelled for today.

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Gary Bettman and the owners should take a collective leap off the tallest building in the world...

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