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*Official* CBA Negotiations and Lockout Thread

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As I stated before the meetings this week. I knew the player would be manhandled in that room alone with the Owners...why because they dont know anything beyond ice, hockey and dollar signs...and certain people here dont get that...I heard Bettman say the word FANS many times in his PR did Fehr?...NOPE~! He did mention Canada...lol but only because press brought it up...

GO OWNERS~!

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Once Fehr got back involved everything went to sh!t, gg NHLPA

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Yeah and the Players and their agents are all so innocent and have nothing to do with a market team trying to stay competative...maybe this is one of the reason for the lockout and why the players are neglecting to sign a CBA...lol educate yourself.

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NHL Apocalypse Watch: Its Rider Was Named Death, and Hades Was Following Close Behind Him (Hi, Gary!)

At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this past winter, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke was asked to identify the best negotiator he'd worked with throughout his career.

"Gary Bettman," he said. "There's smart — and then there's Bettman smart. He's a very three-steps-ahead type guy."

Burke, who was onstage as part of a panel called "The Art and Analytics of Negotiation," gave an example of the NHL commissioner's inner Bobby Fischer.

"Actually had to ask him to slow down a few times when we were doing the CBA back in '94," he said. "Because he's getting ahead of all of us, talkin' to himself in the room: 'Well, this won't work,' 'Well, yeah, but in three years … ' … Huh?"

Last night Bettman once again delivered a speed-talking monologue on collective bargaining that left people bewildered, though this time it wasn't behind closed doors. Capping off an exhausting few days that contained all the emotional highs and lows of, say, a good hockey game, the NHL commissioner stood inside the Westin Times Square and addressed the assembled media.

Most of them were buzzing before he even spoke. Just 30 minutes earlier, NHLPA head Don Fehr had delivered a rather sunny assessment of the state of negotiations — "We think there is a complete agreement on dollars," he said. "There shouldn't be much reason why we can't get an agreement in the near term" — only to abruptly return and announce, "There has been a development. It's not positive." The league's side, he said, had just left a voice mail on his brother Steve's phone rejecting the players' most recent proposal. What's more, they had informed them that certain elements of the owners' offer were now off the table.

So when Bettman finally took the mic, he appeared uncharacteristically rattled. No longer abiding by his stated policy of "not negotiating in public," the NHL commissioner gave a blow-by-blow of (to hear him tell it) the massive compromises that had been made by the owners that had been unappreciated by the players. The league had gone as far as it possibly could go, he said, and then it had stretched just a little bit more in the spirit of getting something done.

And thus the hearts of hockey fans everywhere sank.

As Bettman spoke, a few NHL players gathered stone-faced in the back of the room, prompting many to wonder whether they were there to intimidate or to cause a disruption. The answer was far more benign: The TVs in their hotel rooms at the Westin Times Square didn't get TSN, and no American stations were broadcasting Bettman's words. (Hey, at least the Taiwanese news agencies care!)

For all the sound and fury, it seems clear the question of who will come out ahead in this deal has been settled: Almost all of the meaningful movement to this point has come from the players' side. They agreed to a 50-50 revenue split, down from the 57 percent they have been receiving. They budged on contract term limits and the length of the CBA (though not far enough to satisfy the NHL; those issues are two of the remaining sticking points). They submitted, implicitly, to the idea that teams may not wind up paying in full all the contracts that their front offices offered and inked — some of them just weeks before the expiration of the last CBA.

By comparison, the NHL hasn't yielded much of anything. Some of the items on which the league considers itself to have compromised — arbitration rights and the parameters surrounding free agency, for example — are merely remaining unchanged from the last (already owner-friendly) CBA. Others aren't exactly generous: One of the league's biggest concessions to date has been its willingness to create a "make whole" fund that would help ease the transition down to a 50-50 revenue split from 57-43 — meaning the NHL has grudgingly agreed to pay some, though likely not all, of the salaries it contractually owes.

So when considering this whole unholy mess, it's worth remembering that when the NHL talks about how far it has moved toward the middle in these labor discussions, it's not really in terms relative to the status quo, but rather in comparison to the lowball-y offer the league opened negotiations with back in July. Bettman himself admitted as much in a surprisingly frank comment to the Winnipeg Free Press's Gary Lawless back on November 19:

Free Press:
Was the aggressive nature of your first offer to the players a mistake?

GB:
I think the view some have of our first offer is fairly naive as it relates to collective bargaining. A sophisticated negotiator would have looked at it and said, 'Obviously they want a 50-50 split.' If we're at 57 and they propose 43, they must be telegraphing where they want to end. If your intention was to use it in an inflammatory way, you could do that. If your intention was to make a deal, you could pretty much chart out what the course should be.

His candor made me think of something else Burke had said during the Art and Analytics of Negotiation panel at the SSAC: "My theory is, make the first meeting as short and unpleasant as possible," he said. "Sometimes it's better to just punch the guy in the face."

Burke was hamming it up a bit for the audience then, but it's a good reminder of how much of this lockout is scripted. It's easy to read everything into a rejected offer or delivered ultimatum, but sometimes all it means is that a negotiation is going on. We're dealing with people who are trained to think three moves ahead.

Which is why it's alarming when you start to see emotion creep into the boardroom, especially from executives who ought to know better. "The owners were beside themselves," Bettman saidyesterday, explaining that their offer of an additional $89 million in "make whole" money to the players was not received gratefully enough. "Some of them I had never seen that emotional." Bill Daly characterized the response as "quite frankly … insulting" and added that "They wanted to leave the room; the players asked them to stay."

Aren't these guys supposed to be savvy businessmen? You think they acted this way, say, when they were in talks to purchase their teams? It's almost as if some Frank Luntz focus group determined that the owners were coming across too facelessly, and a rusty dial marked "emo" was cranked up. Or maybe it's just gotten personal.

During the Art and Analytics of Negotiation panel, Alec Scheiner, the general counsel for the Dallas Cowboys, talked about how losing your cool can lead negotiations right off the rails. "In complicated transactions, emotions will at some point get hot, and someone will say, 'Here's my dealbreaker, this is my walk-away point.' And I find that it usually isn't." Gary Gertzog, one of the NFL's lawyers, agreed: "We've seen situations where ultimatums have been issued, then it's, no, that's not really the deadline," he said. "Then you're not going to believe it the next time they tell you that it's truly a deadline."

The question that no one knows the answer to yet is what the league's true walk-away point or its true deadline is. Bettman called it "incomprehensible" that Fehr would try to paint a rosy picture of the state of affairs knowing full well that the players hadn't acquiesced to the league's three remaining untouchables: a CBA that lasts 10 seasons, no compliance buyouts or caps on player escrows, and a five-year cap on contract length (seven if you're re-signing your own player) limited to a 5 percent yearly variance. That last one, Daly vowed, is "the hill we will die on."

But if the NHLPA is guilty of trying, a bit disingenuously, to make the league look like the bad guys by overemphasizing just how close everyone is, the NHL has damaged its credibility too: by saying time and again that they are making a final, take-it-or-leave-it, we-can't-do-better-than-this offer — and then, weeks later, doing better than that.

If the league is serious this time about taking the "make whole" allowance off the table, then the players will likely counter with a push for decertification. (Here's a great primer on just what that nuclear option could mean.) And while at least one of the league's "depth" players anonymously questioned his union leader yesterday, the NHLPA appears to remain mostly united behind Fehr.As Jonathan Willis pointed out, by this point in the 2004 lockout many players had gone public with their doubts about former boss Bob Goodenow; as Bruce Arthur said, if in fact Fehr is advising the union to do something that he thinks will yield them more in the end, then he's "basically doing the job the players hired him to do." But the worry is that Fehr may be underestimating the owners' resolve — and, I guess, their feelings.

As Burke warned during the Sloan conference, "If you drive too hard a bargain, at some point it's gonna bite you right in the ass."

Burke wasn't the only one on the panel to be asked that day about the best negotiator he's ever seen. Joel Linzner, a bigwig at Electronic Arts, got the question too; he said that the most skilled people he's worked with have been mediators.

"I marveled sometimes at the way the mediator could actually take two warring parties — that's two people that [didn't have] any intention of actually doing business together, or even necessarily wanting to — to actually agree on a structure," he said. The NHL tried bringing in federal mediators last week — only to be told that the situation had grown too toxic to be mediated.

Still, it may help to take a bird's-eye view of what happened this week. The two sides inched ever closer to an agreement, with just a few small-seeming sticking points remaining between them. The league made a proposal. The players countered. The league pulled away mad. This is something that has happened numerous times since the summer, and every time talks have resumed and progressed. Bettman would not name any sort of "drop-dead date," though he did say that he wouldn't be interested in a season any shorter than 48 games, as in 1994-95. That comes out to a de facto deadline of somewhere around the New Year.

"You need to keep emotion out of it as much as possible," Scheiner said during the panel this winter. "There are times in any complicated negotiation where you'll be upset with the other party. You have to put that to the side and realize you're there to get the deal done. It's a good deal, and you're there to get it done."

And that's the biggest problem between the NHL and the NHLPA right now: Both sides are starting to wonder aloud whether what they're fighting so hard for is even a good deal at all. But if they want to get anything done, they'll have to start believing that somehow, it will be.

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I see an Idiot and it's not Bettman and its not me lol....why because if you for one second think the players give 2 sh!ts about you then you could not be more wrong...lol Who pays the players....NHL Owners....where do they get those dollars from ....? You...the Owners need you to come to games and fill those seats, to watch games on tv, to buy those HRR items jerseys, foam hats and fingers, hrr the players seem so obessed in claiming...

take tha crosby jersey off your face and open your eyes...don't fall for the Im the little player that you cheer for....NO~! You cheer for the goal scored by any player... just remember that...

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I see an Idiot and it's not Bettman and its not me lol....why because if you for one second think the players give 2 sh!ts about you then you could not be more wrong...lol Who pays the players....NHL Owners....where do they get those dollars from ....? You...the Owners need you to come to games and fill those seats, to watch games on tv, to buy those HRR items jerseys, foam hats and fingers, hrr the players seem so obessed in claiming...

take tha crosby jersey off your face and open your eyes...don't fall for the Im the little player that you cheer for....NO~! You cheer for the goal scored by any player... just remember that...

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May have been said I just can't fathom going through so many pages.

If contract length and % variance are so crucial to the owners why don't they just stop signing ridiculous contracts. They want 5 years max? Then only sign 5 years max. Don't want contracts heavily weighted upfront and so low near the end then stop sigining them. Eventually we will find out who sticks for the money and who sticks to play the game.

As far as the free agency thing goes why change it? If owners want to keep players they should make an attempt to make the team appealing to the player.

This "three core items" thing is redundant in my books.

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May have been said I just can't fathom going through so many pages.

If contract length and % variance are so crucial to the owners why don't they just stop signing ridiculous contracts. They want 5 years max? Then only sign 5 years max. Don't want contracts heavily weighted upfront and so low near the end then stop sigining them. Eventually we will find out who sticks for the money and who sticks to play the game.

As far as the free agency thing goes why change it? If owners want to keep players they should make an attempt to make the team appealing to the player.

This "three core items" thing is redundant in my books.

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I won't quote the whole article, but here's a snippet of what some have already suggested will happen to the bottom 6/9 type of players if contract lengths are reduced on top of other methods of avoiding back-end diving contracts:

How Zach Parise Signing for 13 Years Is Good for Kyle Brodziak

...

The issue of length of contract and variance in terms of annual salaries seems to be a big one and one that’s worth discussing in some more detail.

It’s pretty easy to understand why this is an issue for the owners. When you squeeze the money that can be paid to the players, as the 2005 CBA did, people competing for the services of highly coveted players are forced to compete on something else. Length of contract is a pretty obvious one. It’s the exact same problem (from the owners’ perspective) that existed prior to 2004: it only takes one person willing to go very long in terms of years in a contract to force other owners to match it if they want to be competitive in getting the best players. If you’re an owner motivated primarily by a desire to increase the profits and value of your hockey team, this would be infuriating. It’s easy enough to see.

The player interest in all of this has been a bit harder for me to see. Kevin Westgarth set it out late last month, in an interview with James Mirtle:

As a fringe player, Westgarth added that he realizes some of what players are fighting for will never affect him directly, but he also argued that the trickle-down effect of eliminating creative contracts for stars would mean less cap space for the remaining players.

He also believes those contract rights are worth fighting for after other players lost a season in 2004-05 to get them.

“I will stand up for what I think is right for all the guys on my team,” he said. “The reason those contracts exist is because, in a cap system, that’s how you make room for paying other players. If we gave up the rights that the league wants, I believe it would annihilate the middle class of the NHL.”

My initial reaction to this was “Nahhhh” and I started to write a sarcasm laden post arguing that it was nuts. As I played with some numbers, I encountered a problem: I could kind of see what Westgarth’s point was. I hate it when this happens.

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Can I just say how annoyedI am at this point with the league and pa constantly playing this game back and forth while maintaining this intention that they wish to still have a shortened season.. I mean honestly, every week I hear in the media, in the news, on here.. about how they can still have a 60, no 50, no 48 now game season..

Am I the only one who is hoping they DON'T have a shortened season? Not only do I not feel at all like either side deserves to actually have a season at this point, I wouldn't be that interested in watching a shortened season anyway, on top of the fact that I don't feel like I'd be willing to give the NHL any of my attention after all this. Christ we've all given enough attention to all this ridiculousness with the negotiation, or should I say lack of negotiation.

Seriously, if it were up to me I'd quash this season.. its DONE. Just regroup and take the time needed to hammer it out like they should have been doing since the start. Both sides absolutely deserve to be in this position and losing all the money they are and I hope they continue to lose money over their greed and ego trips.

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Good post Bookie. This part of the article is key:

By comparison, the NHL hasn't yielded much of anything. Some of the items on which the league considers itself to have compromised — arbitration rights and the parameters surrounding free agency, for example — are merely remaining unchanged from the last (already owner-friendly) CBA. Others aren't exactly generous: One of the league's biggest concessions to date has been its willingness to create a "make whole" fund that would help ease the transition down to a 50-50 revenue split from 57-43 — meaning the NHL has grudgingly agreed to pay some, though likely not all, of the salaries it contractually owes.

So when considering this whole unholy mess, it's worth remembering that when the NHL talks about how far it has moved toward the middle in these labor discussions, it's not really in terms relative to the status quo, but rather in comparison to the lowball-y offer the league opened negotiations with back in July.

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May have been said I just can't fathom going through so many pages.

If contract length and % variance are so crucial to the owners why don't they just stop signing ridiculous contracts. They want 5 years max? Then only sign 5 years max. Don't want contracts heavily weighted upfront and so low near the end then stop sigining them. Eventually we will find out who sticks for the money and who sticks to play the game.

As far as the free agency thing goes why change it? If owners want to keep players they should make an attempt to make the team appealing to the player.

This "three core items" thing is redundant in my books.

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just cancel the season and end this nonsense.

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I am going to explain to you how stupid you sound when you call these guys greedy rich kids.

Most of them have been playing hockey since 7 or 8 and all of them have been putting tremendous effort to attain there dream of playing in the NHL. While you were going to school and doing jack squat, these kids were practicsing in ice rinks non stop to attain a dream. It is often said that hockey players are among the most dedicated athletes in the world. Majority of hockey players are lifting weights by 13 years of age. Prior to getting to junior developmental leagues, they practiced 4-5 times a week and had to do everything within there capabilities to stand out and become better players. They played in junior developmental leagues such as the CHL/etc where they were away from there family for 6-7 months of the year and had to balance school with this dream to play in the NHL. Oh, they also didnt get paid minus minor stipends for this. If they were lucky enough they got drafted into the NHL. They then spent on average 3-4 years playing pro hockey in lower leagues before finally getting a break and making the NHL. In the pro leagues, they spent 6-7 months away from family (more if you made the playoffs) with long gruelling bus rides and occasional air travel.

When they made it to the NHL they are expected to be the best they can be and have insane pressure on them. They also have to make sure they are a cut above other guys so that they can secure there roster spot on a team and hopefully contribute positively to there team. Majority of hockey players have 1 month off and then they start training again preparing for the next hockey season.

Do not call them spoiled rich kids. It makes you sound ignorant and very stupid. These individuals have put in tremendous effort to ge tto where they are and have worked harder than you or I can ever imagine.

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please bettman for the love of god cancel the season already do the negotiations with no press and if you reach a conclusion don't even mention it til the draft all you the owners and the players are doing is hurting the game with this childish pr battle

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I am going to explain to you how stupid you sound when you call these guys greedy rich kids.

Most of them have been playing hockey since 7 or 8 and all of them have been putting tremendous effort to attain there dream of playing in the NHL. While you were going to school and doing jack squat, these kids were practicsing in ice rinks non stop to attain a dream. It is often said that hockey players are among the most dedicated athletes in the world. Majority of hockey players are lifting weights by 13 years of age. Prior to getting to junior developmental leagues, they practiced 4-5 times a week and had to do everything within there capabilities to stand out and become better players. They played in junior developmental leagues such as the CHL/etc where they were away from there family for 6-7 months of the year and had to balance school with this dream to play in the NHL. Oh, they also didnt get paid minus minor stipends for this. If they were lucky enough they got drafted into the NHL. They then spent on average 3-4 years playing pro hockey in lower leagues before finally getting a break and making the NHL. In the pro leagues, they spent 6-7 months away from family (more if you made the playoffs) with long gruelling bus rides and occasional air travel.

When they made it to the NHL they are expected to be the best they can be and have insane pressure on them. They also have to make sure they are a cut above other guys so that they can secure there roster spot on a team and hopefully contribute positively to there team. Majority of hockey players have 1 month off and then they start training again preparing for the next hockey season.

Do not call them spoiled rich kids. It makes you sound ignorant and very stupid. These individuals have put in tremendous effort to ge tto where they are and have worked harder than you or I can ever imagine.

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I also have spent my entire youth playing serious sport 7 days a week and travelling all over North America and the world. I have an idea what it's like. I believe these guys are entitled to some reward for what they do but anyone who thinks that a guy like Kevin Bieksa is 100 times more valuable than your average hard working 5 day a week, 25 years long Canadian is off their rocker or has trouble with relativism.

I believe they deserve to be rewarded more for what they are but not at the point that it makes those around them peasants or slaves, or 100 times less valuable as a human being. It's ludicrous, I'm sure Parise needs that $98 mil to ensure that he can squeak by. Hopefully he doesn't run out of money like some of the old NHLer's ... cause that would be a gosh darn shame.

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Last time I checked - I have never seen Aquilini attending a random practice and playing hockey with pee-wee kids.

Personally - any player I have met, has been polite and courteous with me, and has always willingly taken a picture.

If you think for a second that the players don't see the fans as the most important part, then you are blind.

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I'm pretty excited to see where things go from here. I highly doubt it will take long to restart talks but I hope to see the PA asking for more revenue sharing, more NHL payment into Make Whole in exchange for a slight give on contracting and CBA lengths.

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I also have spent my entire youth playing serious sport 7 days a week and travelling all over North America and the world. I have an idea what it's like. I believe these guys are entitled to some reward for what they do but anyone who thinks that a guy like Kevin Bieksa is 100 times more valuable than your average hard working 5 day a week, 25 years long Canadian is off their rocker or has trouble with relativism.

I believe they deserve to be rewarded more for what they are but not at the point that it makes those around them peasants or slaves, or 100 times less valuable as a human being. It's ludicrous, I'm sure Parise needs that $98 mil to ensure that he can squeak by. Hopefully he doesn't run out of money like some of the old NHLer's ... cause that would be a gosh darn shame.

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