Former Players Seemingly Lack Influence In NHL CBA Talks.

The current NHL lockout refutes the notion of more former players in front office roles potentially preventing labor disputes between the league and the NHLPA.

A theory bandied about by some fans during the previous NHL lockout suggested as more players moved into executive roles at the team and league level,  CBA negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA might become less contentious.

Currently ten former players are NHL general managers. They are Jim Rutherford (Carolina Hurricanes), Dale Tallon (Florida Panthers), Marc Bergevin (Montreal Canadiens), Garth Snow (NY Islanders), Glen Sather (NY Rangers), Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia Flyers), Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay Lightning), Joe Nieuwendyk (Dallas Stars), Don Maloney (Phoenix Coyotes) and Doug Wilson (Tampa Bay Lightning).

Of those, five went through a work stoppage as players. Yzerman and Nieuwendyk through the 1992 players’ strike and the lockouts of 1994-95 and 2004-05, Snow through those two lockouts, Bergevin through the strike and the first lockout, and Wilson through the strike.

Mario Lemieux is currently co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and like Yzerman and Nieuwedyk, went through the strike and the first two lockouts as a player, though in the last lockout, he was also co-owners of the Penguins.

Wayne Gretzky is no longer affiliated with the NHL, but was part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes during the previous lockout, and went through the 1992 strike and 1994-95 lockout as a player.

Brendan Shanahan also went through the strike and the first two lockouts as a player, and is now the NHL’s director of player discipline.

A considerable number of former NHL players are part of the front office staff of every NHL team. Among the notables are Hall of Famers like Mark Messier, Joe Sakic, Chris Chelios, Al MacInnis, Luc Robitaille, and Ron Francis, who also went through at least two NHL work stoppages.

Despite the fact all the aforementioned were former members of the NHLPA – some of them influential and outspoken members during their time with the PA – it appears none of them wield any influence in the current NHL labor dispute.

Indeed, once the players hang up their skates and move from the dressing room to the boardroom, their allegiance to the NHLPA, which some of them fought so hard for in previous labor disputes with the league, seemingly comes to an end, especially when it comes to CBA negotiations.

Of course, once they work for the league or a team, they’re under a gag order not to voice opinions publicly, lest they or their club be reprimanded and/or fined by the league commissioner’s office.

It’s possible some of these aforementioned players are the so-called “moderates” mentioned in the media, though thanks to the league’s gag order, they appear to be mythical creatures, like the Loch Ness Monster or Sasquatch. Sighted for a fleeting moment, but gone before you can positively identify them.

Those players may indeed be attempting to work behind the scenes to broker a new deal and bring about labor peace. Then again, they might also be following the advice of a former wrestling star: “Know your role, and shut your mouth”.

Perhaps some of these players were assimilated like The Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation, or like Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars, taken over by the “Dark Side”, which in this instance would be the NHL team owners.

Yes, I was being facetious in the last three paragraphs, so please, spare me the “you’re so against the NHL you believe the owners are evil” responses in the comments section to this post.

Facetiousness aside, I do believe there’s some truth in what I wrote in those paragraphs. Some of those players-turned-executives may be among the supposed “moderates” on the league side trying to reason with the more hawkish team owners and league executives. Some may have simply decided to stay out of this current fight. Some may have changed their opinions after working on the league side of the house after their playing days.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear the notion of more players in executive roles preventing more NHL lockouts was based more on wishful thinking than reality.


  1. Mario Lemieux needs to look in the mirror long and hard (without that greasy make up on) to see how he got to where his at today. If he does that he will see the light and approach a few other owners and have Betman fired.
    Life is a 2way street Can’t have the cake and eat too even if you own the bakery. Without good well paid employees you have nothing.

    • Maybe he has(behind closed doors). Maybe a few others have too(also behind closed doors), but the big market teams are the ones with the most influence over Bettman are the ones who control this lockout. As for you continuing to call out only Mario to say something publicly(and you only seem to mention Mario and not Mike Gillis-former player agent-Garth Snow-former player-Steve Yzerman-former player and team captain, etc.)shows your prejudice against him. Why not rant about anyone else? My guess is that you really don’t care about the real issues, you just care about hating Mario. NONE of the teams owners, management, front office employees are legally allowed to say anything about the lockout or they will face fines, diciplinary action.

      Life is a two way street according to you. ‘Can’t have the cake and eat it too even if you own the bakery’? ‘Without good well paid employees you have nothing’? Way to use the ‘2way street’ analysis with no bias there Mike. Way to forget you need someone to open a bakery to work at in the first place. Way to forget that owner needs to provide the right envirnment to put together good quality employees AND good quality product AND charge a price that customers are willing to pay to provide these good employees their pay PLUS pay the business expenses.

      Two way street means good pay for employees balanced against a stable business model in order for both sides to prosper. If employees feel they are not paid enough, they will seek employment elsewhere. If employers expenses are so high they need to overcharge customers, those customers will buy their cake at another bakery. They need to comprimise(‘2way street’).

      Two way street does not mean ‘let’s rag on Mario, everything is Mario’s fault, Mario, Mario, Mario…’

      • Flying v – I don’t know what line of business you are in but to me it looks like the owners want to have a guarantee from the players (emplyees) as to how much money they want to make. In my business I invest the money I employee good people and I don’t have any guarantees from anyone. I can’t go to the government and say – hey if you don’t build a $200 million dollar arena for me ill leave. What a joke. In regards to me raging on Mario maybe you did not read another post where I ragged on Ron Francis as well. Gilles, Snow Yzerman and others are not owners they are employees of owners such as Mario and Ron Francis. I thought I’d mention it so you can distinguish the difference between an employee and an owner.
        What I’d like to know is why the media has not cornered Mario and Francis on this.

        • Do you read about investments before you invest money the same way you read a post that has the answer to your question?

          ‘What I’d like to know is why the media has not cornered Mario and Francis on this.”

          Because ‘NONE of the team owners, management, front office employees(all persons I listed are examples of such that would likely have a strong opinion of the situation and may have actually spoken up behind closed doors but you’ll never know because I repeat NONE…) are legally allowed to say anything about the lockout or they will face fines, diciplinary action.’

          In regards to everything else you said about business it doesn’t really make any coherent sense so it’s really difficult to respond to. You want the owners to buckle, fire Bettman and sign a contract with the NHLPA GUARANTEEING them salary and contract conditions yet in your own self descibed business world of ‘I invest the money, I employee(sp) good people and I don’t have guarantees from anyone.’

          Do your employed good people come in and tell you what you are going to pay them or do you negotiate a fair term? You pay a good employee a fair wage to keep them but not so much that you can’t afford to stay in business.

          An employee is not forced to work for you just as you are not forced to hire them. You find a ‘2way street’ that makes sense for both. You NEGOTIATE it.

          If you think the terms from the current NHLPA offer are fair because of your own comparison to your business model and the owners are just being unreasonable then I guess you must give your employees about 50% of your ‘IRR(Investment Related Revenue) currently being sought or similar to the way the players under the last CBA recieved 57% of HRR?

          Probably not because their business model is not the same as yours. If it was I daresay the players would only recieve about 25-30% of the revenue because that is what the Labor Cost is in most business markets.

          Or how about the players recieve 7% revenue- a percentage I use that is often quoted according to the Canadian Auto Workers Union leaders as to what percentage their employees recieve based on the sale of each vehicle?

          Should the players take 7% then because that’s what autoworkers recieve?

          No because none of these scenarios are the exact same business models and must be negotiated individually based on that.

          But lets get back to your main gripe: Why doesn’t Mario (or Francis) say anything to the media? They should because dammit, you say they should!

          But wait. They can’t because they are under contract (legally) not to speak to the media.

          You are legally obligated to not use insider trading information to boost the bottom line of yourself and/or your investors but using your logic you should do so anyway regardless of the legal ramifications because someone else wants you to and because they think you should (Martha…).


          • Mr. V You certainly have a way of twisting my question to your liking and answering it the way you want.
            Let me make myself clear to the ones that read these posts.
            When i say why the media has not called Mario out on this, I don’t expect an interview with Mario. (Mr V thanks but I know there is a gag order.) dont try to make me look silly
            This time around it seams like everyone including the media is on the players side. What i expect from the media is to start to question why a Mario or a Francis or any other ex-hockey player that is a shareholder/owner of a team. NOT ex players now working for a hockey teams (we call them employees) If the media did more of this style of pressure, attempting to question Mario, and even if he can just walk away you would see this strike solved sooner rather than later.
            Mr. V, now when we compare salaries to other professions, lets compare apples to apples not apples to oranges like your comparison of an auto worker to a hockey player.
            Lets compare them in similar industries professional sports – like English, Italian , German and many other countries soccer and see that there is no financial restraints in there line of profession. Heck Russia that had more restraints than your mother girdle now has ZERO restraints in there professional sports teams.
            And another similar industry – the entertaining industry, maybe they should put financial restraints on the actors as to how much they should make !! That’ll go over really well!!
            Funny how things in life have turned and we now have made it normal for an owner to say “Hey im not happy with making $$$ x amount I want more and i want it out of my employees pocket. And if you don’t build me a new $300 million arena i’ll just move. What a scumbag!

  2. As far as former players and NHLPA members who are now in management etc. not saying anything against the league really comes down to knowing which side thier bread is buttered on, or not biting the hand that feeds you…whichever adage you prefer.
    Along with that I believe that there is a certain amount of loyalty to their employers by these individuals wether they are wearing a uniform or a suit.

    • It also comes down to a legally binding media gag order on them during discussions…

  3. Seriously Mike, you make no sense. YOU are the one who drew the comparison between hockey and your supposed profession of ‘I invest the money I employee(sp) good people and I don’t have any guarantees from anyone’ to support your twisted statements. I used your comparrison and threw a few others in as well in order to explain why your comparrison was ludricrous in the first place and could not be used to support your argument (which also seems to be increasingly unclear) as you also just suggested that EVERYONE INCLUDING THE MEDIA is on the players side but they are not putting media pressure on the owners, or more specifically to meet your criteria, the owners who used to be players? Could you come up with a more contradictory analysis? How is the media taking the players side not putting pressure on the owners? Do you even know what apples and oranges are?

    Actually, as per your original statement, you did not make any of these arguments as to how the media should put pressure on Mario to single handedly (oh, sorry, with help from his sidekick Ron) end the lockout.

    Your stated strategy for a successful end to the lockout would be for Mario to ‘look in the mirror long and hard (and I quote; without that greasy makeup on) to see how he got where his(sp) at today’ wave his magic poison mushroom at the entire rest of the leagues ownership and declare ‘I am Mario Lemieux! I have looked in the mirror without my greasy makeup on and I have seen how I got to where I am today! I, with the support of my good buddy Ron, declare this lockout over!’

    It wasn’t until I started to pick on your hate for Mario that you started to draw on even more ridiculous examples as to how this would all end if the media would just get it over with and concentrate on villanizing that one true evil being that is Mario Lemieux.

    P.S. way to throw in a ‘yo mama’ joke to support your statements and show everyone what a business genius you are.

    The reality is you have no idea what you are talking about. You just hate Mario. Do I think I can get you to see things rationally? Not really. So why did I respond to your post? For me it’s the pleasure of putting a smile on someone elses face who reads a statement like yours and shakes their head at the idiocy of it but doesn’t have the time or patience themselves to engage in a back and forth with a ‘I invest the money’ professional business genius like yourself.

    • Mr. V to you a comparison of Auto Workers and Hockey Players maybe similar but I call that apples and oranges and maybe you didnt read the rest of my post where i stated about owners wanting $300 million bucks plus plus plus or they will move. REALLY !! mr V
      So as you can see my dislike is actually against the owners for many reasons which have been posted here by me and others many times.
      I hold Mario to a higher standard than the rest of the owners just because he was an ex-player and i would think that he would have expressed a tiny bit of support for the players (even if he got fined) Can you understand that!

      • I didn’t say they were similar. I said they are all different. You compared your (pretend)profession to that of hockey players and I used all of those examples to explain why it was an inadequate comparison.

        Also this arena kick you are on makes no sense either. Most teams in almost all forms of sport at every professional level do not build their own arenas. They lease the space from a city, or other business entity for that matter, that wants to provide that space. If the team does not like the space they are leasing they are free to find another when the lease is up. If a city wants to attract a team it does what it wants to in order to attract a tenant. Cities build arenas to boost their own economy if they feel the cost is justified, not because an owner says build one or else. How is a team supposed to play in a city if the venue they are occupying becomes inadequate to their needs? They should just stay and play in a crumbling venue and shut the hell up?

        No, they should not.

        Did someone tell you what apartment or house you are supposed to live in whether you like it or not and you are going to pay whatever the heck they think is fair and be told where you should live because someone else thinks you should and if you don’t rent it or buy it you are a scumbag? Or is this too complicated a comparison for you because you do not live on your own yet?

        • Mr V you are beginning to look like a fool
          When I decided to buy my first house and my second house I didn’t ask the government to buy it for me or build it for me. But in the case of these greedy nhl owners they have the balls to ask my government for $300 $400 million.
          And after the government says ok will give you $300 million the nhl owners want to be able to manage the arena and take all the profit from all of the other functions.
          If you knew anything about business I would take my hat off to you. Mr v when I expanded my business, I went out and looked at a different buildings to buy Without government help. Unless you are on welfare Mr V and than I don’t know ow how things work out there but maybe you can enlighten us.

          • Alright Mr. first house, second house, expand my business, looked at different buildings to buy, here’s one simple business question for you. Let’s see if you can answer it.

            Here is the question: Consider a government bond which is issued on Jan 1, 2004 with date of expiry as Dec 31, 2008. The bond has a face value of 1,000$ a YTM of r=3% and a semi-annual coupon of 6.375% Determine the Price of the bond.

          • Golly gosh gee whiz Mike, was my investment broker 101 question to difficult for you?

            In summation, as Spector pointed out at the end of this article, ‘whatever the reason, it’s clear the notion of more players in executive roles preventing more NHL lockouts was based on more wishful thinking than reality.’ Just as your self professed business genuis and occupation to back it up in order to hate on Mario was based on more wishful thinking than reality.

            Thanks for coming out anyway!

        • I should call you KID V instead of Mr. V.
          Give the quiz back to your proffessor ok
          and if you really want an answer you can do it all on Excel kid
          by puting the interest and principal receipts, then use the present value function using the current interest yield for the security and cash flows. Does that make since to you can you stay up late and punch that on your dada computer.
          Hey Kido i lied to you about something I dont own 2 houses, I actually own 3
          Sorry for the mistake but you got a long ways to go to catch up. You gotta pay your stuuuuudent loan, you than gotta find a job and if anyone sees that you are such a hard headed person you might have to go back to school to learn how to sweep first.
          It was a pleasure to discuss financial matters with you.
          And yes i still have the same feelings for all the owners and especially Mario. Francis not as much as he is a part owener.

          • It takes less than a minute to answer that question for even an entry level investment broker. I already know the answer. You clearly do not. Prove me wrong and answer it or you have zero credibility. You only know how to insult and you back up your nonsensical statements with your nonexistant business background.

          • P.S. Try speaking (or writing) in English. It might give you at least a little credibility.

        • Hey Kid V.
          I guess you read all my comments and the only thing that you picked on in the end was my spelling mistakes.
          Thank you for giving me credit for all the other comments that i placed here.
          Gotta tell you been around the block a few times kido, your quizes do not faze me, they mean nothing in the real world. What i want you to think about is this.
          Once upon a time when the true businessman (Lee Iacocca u should read his book) and other small bussinessman were proud of the products they developed borrowed $$ from the Government and paid it back. Can you imagine that!!
          Or in a small town where Mr. Smith owned the local mill and evryone in town had the highest respects for him (CALLED SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE)
          Instead your generation wants hand outs from mommy or daddy or the government . Learn how to sweep the floor first in order to be succesfull.
          As for journalists they should listen to some old tapes of Jack Webster or Rafe Mayer, they both spoke up about there beliefs.
          HAVE A NICE LIFE

          • In other words you can’t figure out the answer because you lied about your credentials. Does it make you feel better answering everything with a bunch of mish mashed nonsensical retoric followed by a statement saying you’re smart? Who exactly are you trying to prove you’re smart to by the way? Yourself?

            “What’s 2+2?”

            “I hate Mario! I Smart you stupid!”

            “What is your favourite colour?”

            “Red! No, I mean Blue! wait..what? I mean…I hate Mario! u should read book! I invest the money! I smart u stupid!”

            …life is a 2way street so it should be one way! my way!…yo mamma’s girdle…200 million…i mean 300 million…i mean 400 million…I own everthing…your generation, u should sweep a floor…apples and apples are different and oranges are different and not the same as apples and oranges and eat the cake too!…real world…you’re on welfare…stuuuuuuuuuuuudent loan…Mr.Smith! Mr.Smith!

            Is that better? You wanted me to point out something other than your spelling that discredits you.

            I wonder what your made up investors would think about your inability to answer a basic investment question and instead you tell them that it, and I quote, “means nothing in the real world.” Even though that question is key to your supposed life success? They are supposed to mean something in the real world and in particular your world but they don’t to you because your world is make believe.

            For some advice you could use but probably think ‘u r 2 smrt four’ I’ll end with a quote from someone’s whose autobiography I read many years ago;

            ‘There is no substitute for accurate knowledge. Know yourself, know your business, know your men.’ Lee Iacocca

        • Kid v
          If that’s what u call discredit – u need help
          Ur quiz – I did one better I told u how to get the answer
          As to what I own I can send u my pty tax slip if u like
          If I think I’m smart well my banker tells me I am and so ill take his word
          In regards to Mario think about what I said. I hold Mario to a higher standard because he was a player n that’s at the bottom of the totem pole in that industry. So what I’m saying is that he started at the bottom worked his way up n now he is turning his back to the players R u with me so far.
          And that’s my reason for disliking Mario
          200 300 400 million is what owners want from governments to build a new arena – the figure doesn’t matter if it’s 200 or 400 What matters is that they have the balls to even ask for it as a hand out. Lee iaccoca asked for it and than he gave it back with interest. Complete opposite of today’s executives.
          Back to your quiz – look at ur quote
          Very nice quote in the end which contradicts your quiz question
          Know your business
          And know your men

          • Answer the question liar…

  4. wow hard to believe there’s so much passion for the business side of hockey. i believe it’s important to have those former players involved as they (most of them) have the players respect in a way that the owners (save maybe Lemieux) don’t.
    the owners keep trying to classify the relationship between players and management as a partnership but it’s not and it’s not as simple as employer and employee either. what they have is a situation where both sides need each other, the players bring talent that few outside the league possess and the owners provide the venue for them to display those talents. there are other leagues for the players to display their talents but everyone knows the NHL is the premium league and the best players always want to play against the best. by the same logic there are lots of potential replacement players in other leagues but there’s a reason why they aren’t in the NHL, everybody knows it and no one would pay the premium prices to see them play no matter whose jersey they’re wearing.
    i believe the owners discounted the resolve the players had going into the lockout and they’re going to have to accept they won’t get their way simply because they control the purse strings. the hypocrisy the owners showed prior to the lockout locking up players to long term big money deals before crying poverty has the (better educated) fans firmly on the players side. i would question the owners unity when a have team like the Flyers tries to take advantage of a havenot team like Nashville with a ridiculous offer sheet to Weber all because Predator’s GM Poile had the nerve to ask for fair value for one of the league’s top players.
    i also believe owners are tired of funding Bettman’s ego by propping up that financial sinkhole in the desert known as the Coyotes. i understand that Bettman didn’t want someone moving a team without league approval but to rebuff a hockey mad Billionaire 3 times (Jim Balsilie attempted to purchase Pittsburgh, Nashville, and Phoenix only to be run off each time for less qualified owners or in the case of Phoenix no owner at all) when what he was offering would’ve solved an issue that’s still not resolved.
    to be fair the NHL under Bettman has improved the bottom line but that’s largely because of an improved Canadian dollar and the larger hockey mad markets where people will pay far more for premium seats than they will in the southern US markets Bettman is so determined to hang onto.
    the last lockout cost the NHL it’s exposure on ESPN (where they were replaced by a card game) at a time when more exposure was desperately needed and their latest tv contract has caused them to play at ridiculous times to suit a disinterested NBC/Comcast sports for a pittance ($200 million a year split between 30 teams after the league takes their cut would probably work out to $5 million per team or one halfway decent player’s salary). it should be noted that NHL heavyweight owner Ed Snider is the chairman of the board at Comcast.
    should recent news of an arena project in Markham, Ontario lead to an NHL team it should be mentioned that the group responsible for the arena project has announced business partnerships with Jeremy Jacobs (probably something to do with the concessions as a lot of his families fortunes were built that way) and Ed Snider (Global Spectrum a subsidiary of Comcast will manage and operate the arena), two NHL owners with considerable influence in the boardroom. it may not be a confilict of interest to have an owner making money from another team’s arena but the optics certainly don’t look good.
    it’s clear to me that the players don’t trust the owners and the last couple of paragraphs should illustrate why they have concerns.