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*Official* CBA Negotiations and Lockout Thread

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@TSNRyanRishaug: Mediators would have to fly to get in, so wouldn’t be until later today or tomorrow if agreed on. Pa’s internal meetings ongoing.
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No One is Saving The NHL Except The NHL

The last two days of CBA negotiations have been the most exciting so far in the entire process. We have reached a critical point as the calendar has turned to December, and the clock is ticking as we inch closer to the date that the season may be lost.

The issues are the same, but the key players have changed. Last week, after mediators failed to make any real headway, the suggestion was raised that Gary Bettman and Don Fehr remove themselves from the negotiations and the owners and players met face-to-face. A group of 6 owners and 18 players (a number that has gone up and down at times) have spent the last 48 hours having open, candid discussions and all appearances are that progress is being made, even if a deal is not imminent.

Look, we all know that a deal is going to be signed at some point. It's not a given that we will see NHL hockey this year just yet, but there will come a time where both sides realize there is middle ground and strike a deal that (hopefully) brings prolonged labor peace.

When that happens, the natural reaction will be to bestow praise on those that made it happen. In the last 2 days, reports have emerged that a couple of Pittsburgh guys, Ron Burkle and Sidney Crosby, have been very influential in the room and cooled some of the hot tempers that exist in the room.

What this has done is led some people to anoint Burkle and Crosby as the "saviors" of the NHL, something that is going to make a lot of people very angry. There are some out there who will non-ironically spout things like "Sidney Crosby is the greatest player and person ever because he literally saved hockey from itself", leading them to be pelted with rotten fruit and beaver skins.

Personally, I'm glad that Crosby dove headfirst into negotiations. Whether people like it or not, he is a mega-star and one of the faces of the league. He has generated a lot of buzz for the NHL, and that has led to increased revenue. To disregard what he has to say would be a mistake because an unhappy superstar could lead to a decrease in the amount of money lining the owners' pockets.

But it would be a mistake to suggest that Sidney Crosby and his high school education are leading the charge against the owners, especially since you've got George Parrosand Kevin Westgarth and their Princeton degrees sitting at the same table. He may be making suggestions regarding what he'd like to see in the new deal, but his voice is one of 18 in that room, many of whom have college educations.

That also doesn't take into account that whether they're in the room or not, Bettman and Fehr are still exerting influence over the negotiations. I don't think for a second that a deal is going to get done without their knowledge and input, especially Fehr because he is a professional who negotiations labor deals for a living while his constituents play a game.

The same goes with Bettman. Jeremy Jacobs may be the heavy-handed meanie who is driving this lockout, and Burkle may be the voice of reason within the room, but Bettman is the leader, and whether he's receiving marching orders from the 29 owners or providing the strategy himself, he's an integral part of this entire process, whether he's in the room or not.

But in the end, does it matter? Much like the so-called "PR War", the idea that one or two guys are the difference between there being NHL hockey this year or not is irrelevant. When you think about it deep down in your soul, do you really care whether it was Sidney Crosby that "saved" the season? Yes, it would mean he'd be featured even more than he is now, but if you're worried about the health of the NHL after yet another work stoppage, then shouldn't his face be used to bring fans back? And wouldn't you just be happy that the NHL was back, regardless of who made it happen?

The idea that any one person is responsible for a CBA being signed is short-sighted and wrong. The process is ongoing, and it's going to take contributions and engagement from 29 owners and 700+ players. That's the only way this deal gets done and we get our NHL back.

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Damn, I wonder what could be causing this mass exodus. They seem to both agree on the critical issues, I have a tough time believing players are pushing for more on a make whole that the owners have generously conceded on. Contract length and variance limit are not worth the battle. Players have issues with a longer CBA ... why go through this again in your career?

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Damn, I wonder what could be causing this mass exodus. They seem to both agree on the critical issues, I have a tough time believing players are pushing for more on a make whole that the owners have generously conceded on. Contract length and variance limit are not worth the battle. Players have issues with a longer CBA ... why go through this again in your career?

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Damn, I wonder what could be causing this mass exodus. They seem to both agree on the critical issues, I have a tough time believing players are pushing for more on a make whole that the owners have generously conceded on. Contract length and variance limit are not worth the battle. Players have issues with a longer CBA ... why go through this again in your career?

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Damn, I wonder what could be causing this mass exodus. They seem to both agree on the critical issues, I have a tough time believing players are pushing for more on a make whole that the owners have generously conceded on. Contract length and variance limit are not worth the battle. Players have issues with a longer CBA ... why go through this again in your career?

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Trust issues will linger into next CBA negotiation

As we’re hearing increasing rumblings that the end of the NHL lockout is nigh, we’re also hearing a sentiment that marked the end of the 2004-05 labor war and lost season:

“I just hope both sides get it right this time and we don’t have to go through this nonsense again the next time they need a new collective bargaining agreement.”

That’s a very understandable thought, but given the history of tumult and animus between NHL team owners and players, it couldn’t be more naïve. If the past three CBA negotiating sessions have taught us anything, it’s that NHL fans always will have to endure this ugly game of brinkmanship and propaganda pushing whenever a new labor deal needs finalizing. Lockouts have become a hallmark of the Gary Bettman Era and there’s nothing, even now, that suggests it will be any different five or eight or 10 years from now.

The way events have turned out this week – with the league suddenly relenting on the hardline stance owners have clung to from the beginning – those who believed all along the NHL never intended to play games in October and November and always intended to push the NHLPA as far as possible before salvaging a season are looking quite savvy.

If owners really wanted a full 82-game campaign, they easily could have taken a softer tact with the union and have arrived at this moment back in September. That they chose not to and instead took the scorched-earth approach perfectly illustrates their big-picture blueprint, arranged and carefully cultivated by the law firm of Proskauer Rose across a number of professional sports leagues.

No wonder the NHLPA’s strategy (at least, up until this week) has been to play the slippery fish, catchable for a brief moment, but never long enough to admire or even get a solid read on. If the league was going to be so openly aggressive toward players, they were under no obligation to play the game under the NHL’s assumed rules. That’s why weeks passed without any meaningful contact and why Bettman made ridiculous propositions such as a two-week moratorium on negotiations. Players quickly recognized there was never any impetus to reach a quick conclusion from the other side and responded similarly.

Unfortunately for hockey fans, the NHL is still in the same developmental stage as Major League Baseball was with its players union a couple decades ago. As NHLPA second-in-command Steve Fehr explained recently on The Hockey News Radio Show, baseball owners had to learn the hard way it made more sense to deal with its talent the soft way than the hard way.

“In baseball, Don and I went through a lot of stuff over a lot of years with (MLB commissioner) Bud Selig and (MLB executive vice-president) Rob Manfred,” Fehr said Nov. 23, “but eventually, out of that came trust and understanding, and baseball now, by the end of this current CBA, baseball will be working on 21 years of uninterrupted labor peace without a game lost. It would be nice to start to build a foundation so you could see how hockey could get to a similar place. Doesn’t look like we’re there today.”

It didn’t look like that two weeks ago, and it still doesn’t today. But say that out loud: Twenty-one years of uninterrupted labor peace. Sounds like heaven to an NHL fan, doesn’t it? Sadly, as Thursday’s CBA negotiations began giving off that old-car-that-somebody-has-lived-in-smell and rumors of fresh rancor between the sides re-emerged, it is clear that is a pipe dream Cheech & Chong would want a piece of.

No, the reality is we’re still no better off in the trust department than we were in 2005. Regardless of when a deal is signed, there will be hard feelings lingering in the air for some time to come.

Just before Steve Fehr talked on THN Radio about Selig and Manfred and the lessons baseball learned that the NHL stubbornly refuses to, he paraphrased the famous American labor figure John L. Lewis by saying, “labor relations is like domestic relations, except there’s no divorce.” But I found a Lewis quote that is a better analogy for the current NHL boondoggle and the reason we’re likely to go through another agonizing lockout whenever a new CBA expires:

“Who gets the bird, the hunter or the dog?” Lewis asked in Life Magazine in 1954.

With apologies to Red Wings executive Jimmy Devellano, that is the appropriate animal/human analogy between NHL player and owner. The bird is Hockey Related Revenue, the players the dog and the owners the hunter. And the problem is, rather than taking a genteel, rewarding approach with their supposed best friend, the owners have used the cold riding crop and want the bulk of the bird for themselves.

Which makes it all the more baffling when owners are baffled as to why that dog won’t hunt anymore.

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So much for my optimism. Once again I'm disappointed.

So it sounds like the meeting has just started. My guess is that it lasts for 10-15 minutes, everyone walks out pissed off, and then they don't talk to each other for weeks.

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I think the problem might be that the owners only offered to increase their "make whole" IF players agreed to a 10-year CBA which for some reason they don't want. That, to be honest, is a mystery to me. It's not like they ever get better for the players, so having a longer one seems like it would be in the players' interest. Still, it's a jerk move on the NHL's part to agree to "make whole" only part of the signed contracts (while still calling it "make whole"), putting some of it in pensions instead of lump payments and making it contingent on another unrelated factor.

But D-Money makes an excellent point. Maybe the players do believe they'll be able to get a better deal in a few years, especially if they have to agree to things like a term and variance contract limit to get this deal done. I'd love to know how long they want the CBA to be. IF the players want one around the same length of the last one they could be fighting over just a few years here, in which case it seems a little dumb for the NHL to be dragging their feet for an extra-long CBA anyway. Instead of asking for a longer CBA they could just try behaving like business-minded adults who don't just lockout players every time the old one expires instead of trying to work out a fair deal.

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These "grown men" need to stop acting like a bunch of babies, and stop getting so emotional when they don't agree. Both sides want whats best for themselves, but they have to find a common ground based on giving and taking.

I was afraid that the buddy buddy feeling would wear off as soon as they start talking about the numbers again.

Lets just hope that cooler heads prevail, and they realize that they're too close to give up now.

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Knew this was going to happen, it's so predictable. It's been the same thing for 3 months, but at least they actually made some progress before losing their sh*t this time.

Deal will ultimately get done, the players will get their money either way. The Owners will find loopholes again and the players will get paid.

Hopefully the next high isn't followed by a low and this rollercoster ride is over.

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Owners = 50/50 HRR

Players = Existing contracts honored in full; bottom line owners offered it, now honor it...to not do so is just poor business practice; they'd probably have to make this up in the first 2-3 years in HRR share; unless another formula was proposed and i missed it

CBA = 7 years with option to extend and amend year to year...maybe won't have to have lockouts with room for tweaking before things get out of hand...give time to clean up extended contracts and get a sense of the state of the new CBA without being stuck to it for 10 years. The NHL should know better when they sign lengthy contracts.

Contract Length = 6 years seems reasonable for average hockey career, unlimited contract lengths gets out of control and tends to exceed the realm of the CBA and into unknown territory; 5% variance seems uneccessary with a 6 year limit, you can't really circumvent the cap with a 6 year contract, 15 years yes...6 years no

That's my proposal

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@FriedgeHNIC

Fehr/players to meet media approx 630 ET

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Afraid Fehr just intentionally stalled a December start to a shortened season. Been dragging his heels thinking there's more to offer and by doing so is asking for mediators to return. Will shoot down past 2 days as "corporate banter" and do his best Alan Alda impersonation. This guy is a __________. Owners are done with him and will cancel the season in January.

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@DarrenDreger

PA made presentation today. Say time is now to make a deal. Say addressed league concerns.

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So glad I never got sucked into the optimism.

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