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*Official* CBA Negotiations and Lockout Thread

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I would've liked to see Dolan in as well, but by all reports he and Bettman haven't even spoken since their legal battle in 2007, so it didn't seem likely. There are rumours that he doesn't even attend Board of Governors meetings. Seems like he has decided to hang back as a silent partner in the NHL until a new commissioner comes in.

Happy that Burkle and Chipman will be there, they've both come across as respectable owners from everything I've read about them. I don't know much about Vinik or Tanenbaum, anyone else?

DeNiro - I think it was Union's request to have legal representation on either side, hence Daly. I assume they'll be sending Steve Fehr.

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No problem. I'm trying to be selective by posting the ones with new info or interesting editorial pieces rather than just flooding this place with every lockout article out there. Hopefully it's not annoying anyone.

btw I haven't been copying them but Grantland's Katie Baker has started a great ongoing column called the NHL Apocalypse Watch. Here's the latest one from Friday:

NHL Apocalypse Watch: The Beast Ascendeth Out of the Bottomless Pit

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Having too many people would likely get in the way of a good conversation.

Big picture, it's irrelevant that there are more players overall than there are owners. There's only two sides represented in the fight. The players and the owners. Each side gets to send 6 representatives. Neither can complain because it is even.

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CROSBY, TOEWS TO BE IN NEW YORK AS CBA TALKS CONTINUE

Tuesday's CBA negotations between the NHL and NHL Players' Association won't be lacking star power, as Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will be among the players in New York City as the talks take place.

However, the NHLPA still has to decide on which specific players it wants in the meeting with the six league owners.

Both sides will meet without most of their NHL and union representatives in an attempt to continue talks towards reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.

The owners that will take part in the meeting are Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins, Ronald Burkle of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mark Chipman of the Winnipeg Jets, Jeffery Vinik of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Murray Edwards of the Calgary Flames and Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The NHLPA requested that a staff member from each side be present for the meeting. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly will attend the meeting while the NHLPA has yet to identify which staff member they will have in the room.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr will not be involved.

Following the breakdown of talks between the two sides that involved federal mediators, Bettman proposed on Thursday that the leadership from both sides step aside for the next bargaining session, leaving a group of owners and players to try and break the stalemate.

The NHLPA asked to have the same mediators involved in Tuesday's meeting but the NHL rejected the offer.

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But I disagree completely with the idea that each side getting 6 is fair in any way. There are 30 owner groups. There are around 700 players. Having only 6 representatives from each sides means each owner represents only about 5 owners, but each player represents more than 116 players. Many of the owners have business degrees and many of the players do not. Plus, the owners are having their Chairman of the Board of Governors present, so he's not just an owner but an NHL brass which purposefully circumvents the "no representatives" concept since he does represent the NHL in every regard.

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It's a good point about too many people getting involved making it complicated, but that's the problem you create when you purposefully remove the representatives.

But I disagree completely with the idea that each side getting 6 is fair in any way. There are 30 owner groups. There are around 700 players. Having only 6 representatives from each sides means each owner represents only about 5 owners, but each player represents more than 116 players. Many of the owners have business degrees and many of the players do not. Plus, the owners are having their Chairman of the Board of Governors present, so he's not just an owner but an NHL brass which purposefully circumvents the "no representatives" concept since he does represent the NHL in every regard.

I got nothing to add to that other than "Amen!"

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Are you suggesting that this meeting is going to carry on actual negociations?

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Quantity and quality are two completely different issues though. Just having more players probably wouldn't help resolve anything any quicker.

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^^ Yeah the players should start their own league. I'm all for that. Would love to see how it unfolds.

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Excellent point, but therein lies the inherent problem with this particular setup. There are more players to represent, but few qualified to do so.

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That's why I am saying that the number 6 is irrelevant. I don't think this is one of those situations where there is safety in numbers. The players can get the job done just as effectively (probably more effectively) as long as they select the right 6 to represent themselves.

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This is getting sad. First it was Bettman's dominance and control of the NHL that explained why there was a lockout without resolution. Now there is a meeting with out Bettman and fans are saying because Jacobs is there the meeting is a farce. The fact that Jacobs was the chair of the NHL negociating committee means nothing. The poor inexperienced players were walking into a trap and what chance did they have facing experienced and savy businessmen? Oh, what's that. Our leader Mr. Fehr is doing his job and ensuring both sides have people there who are up to speed on the talks. To many on here do not give either side of this dispute enough credit. We all do not see the dispute from the same perspective but these are major league talks with serious issues involved. Neither Bettman or Fehr are loose cannons.

Instead of shooting from the hip look at the four owners who are new to the talks. All of them are mid to small market owners and a few have said their main goal is to get the games going. I would be very surprised if this meeting led anywhere no matter how much I want the Canucks playing. The four new owners, with their history, are people I am sure the union reps and players want to talk to. The only hope the PA has is that the unity of ownership collapses and if these four do not show any indication of that happening then the dye is cast and the season gone unless in fact it is the PA who adjusts their position. I think that is the intent of this meeting. The NHL owners are sending this group forward to show the PA how committed they are to their position. Bettman and Jacobs can be discounted for whatever reasons but when ownership brings out 4 doves who have the same message then the players have to pay attention. Reality sucks.

That is my take but I could be 180 degrees wrong and this owner group might throw out a white flag. Naw! Not going to happen! :(

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I hate that Jeremy Jacobs is going to be there. Get the bully out of the room and put him in his place. He is not bigger than the game. I have a good feeling about this and i haven't had one for awhile. My only issue is that while this is good and i hope it opens dialogue, these guys don't have any teeth to make a deal happen. I do hope it gives confidence to some of the smaller guys on either side to get them to pressure for a deal.

If they can't get it to happen this lockout is going to take forever to recover from.

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Are you suggesting that this meeting is going to carry on actual negociations? I hardly think so. My take is an exchange between owners and players without intermediaries for whatever that is worth. I guess some negociating points might be discussed but more than anything I think the NHL wants to ensure the players understand that this dispute is not about Bettman or the negociating team. It is about the concerns that owners are putting forward. I am sure that whatever players are selected will be doing the same. Who knows what the 'takeaways' will be but I suspect the players will not be happy. I hope otherwise but doubt it.

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NHL COO none too pleased

It seems the frustration surrounding the lockout has made its way deep into the NHL office. John Collins, the NHL's COO, isn't a happy camper. The man responsible for spearheading the Winter Classic, moving the NHL Awards to Las Vegas, getting the NHL back on a major network (NBC), significantly expanding the League's digital reach, and so on, is ticked off. And rightfully so.

Imagine getting to the office every day and having to deal with an inbox full of disgruntled emails and a voice mail loaded with "call me back, immediately" messages. Not only has the NHL significantly wounded itself (again, not just a one-way street) with this lockout, but it's causing more headaches for Collins than he needs.

In news first reported by Joey "Vendetta" (well connected to the NHL, and no, that's not his real last name), it has been speculated that Collins is considering and exploring all of his options. Whether he decides to leave is an entirely different matter, but I've been told by multiple sources that he's "upset" -- not only by the length of the lockout, but by being shut out of the negotiation process, which, by itself, raises eyebrows.

Collins, an award-winning businessman aficionado, who made his bones on a much bigger NFL stage, has been one of the NHL's top assets since the 2004-05 lockout (he first jumped on board in late-2006). League revenues have jumped approximately 150% since he joined the NHL, and it's no secret the League can't afford to lose him.

Now, this doesn't mean he's walking out the door tomorrow. He'll probably stay (his contract is significant enough), but the mere notion that he's irked by all of this is truly telling. And the fact that it's being whispered now, at this point in time, might not bode well for this week's CBA meetings.

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From the same article Bookie quoted above,

players expected include Jonathan Toews, George Parros, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Miller and Shane Doan -- though more NHLers will be in NYC tomorrow and they'll formally decide as a group as to which players will jump in the meeting with the owners
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there is a big problem of having Jacob in this player/owner negotiations since Jacob is pretty much like Bettman so nothing good will happen.......should have someone else beside the chairman of the BOG

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Three reasons why owner-player meeting will fail

Almost nobody in the hockey world is attaching even cautious optimism to the Tuesday owners-players-only meeting, which is probably wise. That’s because there are too many aspects to this that work against it merely being an exercise in futility.

If a concept or sense of conciliation comes out of the meeting that germinates into something bigger and leads to a collective bargaining agreement that saves the season, we’ll have commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr to thank for putting their egos aside and allowing it to happen. But this whole scheme reeks of nothing more than a Hail Mary pass – a stroke of genius with huge rewards if it works, but one that results in failure on the vast majority of attempts.

Here are three reasons why your correspondent thinks the meeting is doomed:

1. The presence of Jeremy Jacobs and Murray Edwards on the ownership side.

Let’s see if we have this straight. The league extends an olive branch to the players by proposing this meeting, then insists on having its two most prominent hawks as part of the meetings? How counterproductive can you get?

As chairman of the NHL’s board of governors, Jacobs is Bettman’s most ardent ally, followed closely by Edwards. Both have been present and prominent in all the CBA discussions to this point and have been a large part of the overall NHL strategy to this point, from its laughable first offer to its propensity to turn its nose up at pretty well any proposal the NHLPA puts forward.

Jacobs wields an enormous amount of power and sway among the owners and those who know the inner workings of NHL ownership caution it’s very wise not to cross him. So, who among these guys is going to step out of line and try to be conciliatory with the players?

Edwards? Probably not, since he appears to be next in line to take over Jacobs’ spot as arguably the most powerful man in the game as chairman of the board of governors executive committee. As influential as the board is as a whole, the executive committee is Bettman’s cabinet and that’s where the real decisions are made.

Winnipeg Jets chairman Mark Chipman and Toronto Maple Leafs representative Larry Tanenbaum represent teams with the most to lose during the lockout. Tanenbaum’s team makes the most revenue in the league, so it is losing the most by locking the players out. Chipman, meanwhile, is losing an enormous amount of momentum that his team has created. But who was the chairman of the board when Chipman got his team? Jacobs. And while Tanenbaum tried to broker a deal with a small group in 2005, there’s little evidence to suggest the Maple Leafs would go against the league. After all, the Maple Leafs made back tenfold in salary savings what they lost in the last lockout.

That leaves Pittsburgh Penguins representative Ron Burkle and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. Burkle, in particular, has a long history of conciliatory dealings with unions and is seen as a consensus builder, so there is definitely some hope there. Vinik would probably have the ability to cut through the legal drudgery and get to the business of making a deal, realizing that neither side is gaining anything by losing all this revenue.

But as long as Jacobs and Murray are in the room, is there any point in anyone else being there?

2. Gary Bettman.

The one intriguing question in all of this is what would happen if this meeting actually put the two sides on the path to forging an agreement?

Is there anyone out there who believes Bettman would survive as NHL commissioner if that were to happen? As the man who has been front-and center of three lockouts, Bettman and his legacy would certainly take a severe beating if that were to happen.

Which is why, I believe, Bettman made the proposal in the first place. There is far too much risk attached to it for him if this scheme were to work. Bettman likely believes it has no hope, therefore he knows there is little to lose by making the proposal.

3. Don Fehr.

By being passive aggressive and unflinching, Fehr has managed to wrestle control over the negotiations despite not having any cards to play. Love or loathe him, Fehr has proven to be a brilliant negotiator for the players.

Before the lockout, the prevailing thought was that Fehr might not want his lasting legacy as a sports negotiator to be the man responsible for shutting down an NHL season and that he would come into these negotiations in a cameo role, collect his money and then ride off into the sunset after handing the head job at the NHLPA off to his brother Steve.

As usual, Fehr was underestimated. He is clearly in this race to win it. It’s obvious he does not give much thought to his lasting legacy, or what the fans or owners think of him. He is tying the NHL in knots with a negotiating style that is as passive-aggressive as they come and he knows he has the league frustrated. That’s how he intends to gain the upper hand in all of this.

Does anyone think Fehr would be willing to throw that all away by allowing owners to make an end-around with the players? Not a chance. More likely, he knows this is a good exercise in proving the players are doing everything they can and will give them another good reason to decertify, should that be the route they choose to go.

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They can forge a perfect contract but if Bettman and Fehr get their panties in a knot about it it won't happen.

Which they will.

Greedy manchildren.

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