NHL Lockout (Day 92) Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2012.

Reaction as the NHLPA begins voting today on disclaimer of interest, plus the latest analysis of recent NHL lockout news.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: cited an Associated Press report indicating the NHLPA will begin voting today “on whether they will grant the players’ association’s executive board the authority to dissolve the union because of the inability to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the league.” Two-thirds of the membership must vote in favor of allowing the PA executive to file a “disclaimer of interest”. The vote will be conducted over the internet over the next five days, and if the players vote for disclaimer, the executives has until January 2, 2013, to file the disclaimer and inform the league. On Friday, the NHL took action to challenge this move by filing a class action lawsuit hoping to declare the legality of its lockout.

Legal gloves about to be dropped in NHL CBA standoff.

Legal gloves about to be dropped in NHL CBA standoff.

OTTAWA SUN/STARTRIBUNE.COM: Bruce Garrioch and Michael Russo singled out a key section in the league’s complaint in which all existing NHL player contracts would be null and void in the event the NHLPA’s disclaimer were not deemed invalid by the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB):

“The NHL requests a declaration that, if the NHLPA’s decertification or disclaimer were not deemed invalid by the NLRB, and the collective bargaining relationship between the parties were not otherwise to continue, all existing contracts between NHL players and NHL teams (known as Standard Player’s Contracts or “SPCs”) would be void and unenforceable,”

Garrioch cites a PA source warning the league might want to be careful going that route, as teams with superstar players could risk losing them as free agents, while Russo considered the damage for both sides if all existing contracts were nullified.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Why would the NHL go to that length as to nullify all existing contracts? My guess is they’re hoping to rattle the players by hitting them in the wallet while creating uncertainty over their futures. That,however, cuts both ways, especially for teams with superstars. We won’t know until probably early-January if it comes to that. It would certain create an interesting situation whenever the league returns to action, creating a frenzy of free agent signings on an epic scale. Covering that might help me recoup some of my losses from this lockout, though I’d probably have to mainline Tim Horton’s coffee to do it!

SPORTSNET: Mark Spectorand John Shannon on the sad state of NHL affairs in which everyone loses if this  lockout winds up going before the courts for resolution.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best line to sum all this up came from Spector’s column. “A coach asked the other week, “What are we going to write on the ice when we get back? ‘Sorry we f—ed up?'”

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks mockingly dismisses the NHL’s attempt to block the possibility of the NHLPA going the disclaimer route. He claims disclaimer and decertification “are neither maneuvers nor tenets PA executive director Don Fehr embraces easily”, as Fehr prefers negotiations. Brooks also considered it absurd the NHL recently didn’t want to negotiate with Fehr, yet now they’re essentially taking legal action to ensure he still negotiates with them. He also suggests the league threatening that every player would become a free agent if the PA were allow to disclaim or decertify could spell the death knell for a struggling franchise like the Columbus Blue Jackets (“Goodbye, Columbus!”). Also, a hardline owner like Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs might find it difficult to attract players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks’ mocking of the league aside, he does make an interesting point regarding the difficulty some teams, depending upon location, history or ownership, could find in re-stocking its roster if all NHL player contracts were voided. It would create a chaotic situation and a frenzy of bidding, significantly changing the NHL landscape. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott with an updated profile of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman has to be careful how he plays this situation. If it reaches the doomsday scenario some suggest, which ends up killing some franchises and a massive change in rosters, his legacy as the man who killed the NHL will be assured. Both sides are now engaged in a case of legal chicken to see who blinks first. Bettman’s gambling it’ll be the players. They could, but under Fehr’s leadership, that’s not a certainty.

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance reports Olympic participation and realignment are two issues which remain unresolved thus far in CBA negotiations

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators may be a Canadian-based NHL team, but they too could find it difficult to woo back fans whenever this lockout ends.

STLTODAY.COM: Just emerging from several unproductive seasons, the Blues could suffer under a new CBA. “The league has failed to deliver the message in these negotiations that there is a “business need” for many struggling franchises to fix the economic system. Instead, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has dropped lines such as “we’re paying the players too much,” which only motivated the union’s contingency.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An excellent point. During the last lockout, the league was very proactive in making its case for cost certainty via a salary cap system, which successfully earned it the support of the fans. This time, the league has done little to justify or explain its position.

8 Comments

  1. WHO GIVE A DAMN. FORTY GAMES IS A NOTHING. just let the season go. for forty games i will watch Michigan basketball and soccer. sorry but not going to do hockey no matter what they do. forty games are fine for the older guys. but they may not be around next year. so watch the younger guys whom will be around for some time. good luck and bye bye hockey

  2. There is more to life than hockey. If it comes back this year fine but if next season that’s fine also

  3. A “Disclaimer of Interest” does not de-certify the union. It is an independent decision by the negotiating committee to remove itself from acting on behalf of the union. Legally the NHLPA cannot participate in the negotiating committee’s decision to file a disclaimer. It leaves the NHLPA to fend for itself, either by reforming a negotiating committee to deal with the NHL or to vote to de-certify. If the players were to de-certify the union it would be then up to the individual players to sue the NHL independently of one another.

    Here is the scenario….the union votes for the PR value…drama, drama, drama….better yet make that drama last over 5 days. They get their vote and win. Fine….Bye Bye Fehr brothers, but the union as a whole still exists. Yes thats right, they are still members of a union, until they vote to decertify, or hire new representation. So in the meantime the owners get a court date, challenging the validity of the Disclaimer, using players tweets and union press releases to prove that it is a sham and negotiating tactic. Now this is 3 weeks to 2 months down the road, but the two sides finally go to court (be advised, the season is already cancelled, so now the owners have absolutley nothing but time on their hands), and there are two outcomes. The NHL Owners win, the disclaimer is removed, back comes Fehr, the season is cancelled and the NHLPA have used up one of its Nuclear Weapons. Or the Union wins, Fehr goes bye bye, the season is still cancelled, and now the union has a tough decision to make……..Hire new representation or use their other Nuclear weapon and file for Decertification.

    Lets say the Players go for decertification, once again, the NHL challenges this in court, we are now in June or so, the draft is cancelled until this is worked out. Once again, 2 possible outcomes, The NHL wins, the draft is back on, and the players now have to find new representation to negotiate for them as they have used up all their Nuclear weapons and right now the owners arent feeling too generous. Or the Players win, they are decertified, the union is dissolved, the draft is cancelled, and a group of players decide to sue the League for 1. Illegal lockout, and 2. Anti-trust violations.

    So we are well into the 2nd season by now, still no hockey, and the players suits go to court. And as has been stated by multiple legal analysts, the players have an incredibly tough time proving their case. The lockout itself is easily proved to be legal by the fact that there was no existing CBA in place when it was called. If there was a CBA it might be different, but the owners are not accountable to run the league without one. So bye bye that case. The anti-trust suit is even easier…..the NHL presents a list of over 600 names of players who since the last labour negotiation, signed professional contracts in other leagues once their NHL contracts were completed. Meaning…..you cant be a monopoly if someone else hires you to do the exact same job at a reasonable salary…….From 4 different online legal experts who have written statements about this since it became an issue, there is very little fear in the legal community or in the NHL owners about losing any of those lawsuits.

    And lets not forget, in the last 30 years only one sports anti-trust lawsuit was won and the damages awarded $3.83…just under 4 dollars (after being tripled), by the USFL from the NFL.

    The players continue to hope to “scare” the owners into movement, or they go on one of their twitter assaults to try and get fans to push the owners, but in this day and age, with social media, and the facts available to everyone who looks, scare tactics dont work…..and I think they are playing a losing game. Unfortunately.

  4. @ old_soldier Bettman has been banking on the players caving once again and it hasn’t happened to this point. the NHLPA doesn’t need to use it’s “nuclear weapons” all they have to do is create a little more discontent among the owners, you have to remember these are very successful businessmen who are used to doing things their own way and the longer this goes the harder it is for Bettman to hold things together. once the owners start secondguessing Bettman it’s over for him in fact i don’t think he’ll be around much longer considering the current state of negotiations in what the owners expected to be a slam dunk win for them.

  5. What happens if the decert goes through and no court cases by the players and some owners who we know they are around start to form a new league or the players start one from scratch. This could be a real possibility and that’s what Betman and some of the owners are worrying about. contract soon orThis league is about to implode on its own greed.

  6. Gameon63, you maybe right. The players are banking on the less hardline owners turning on th hardline owners like Jacobs, Calgary’s onwer and Minnesota’s owner. And from where I am sitting it could happen. Jacobs who has been front and center in the lockout has nothng to lose with want the owners want and only everything to gain. He gets the lower payroll with salary rollbacks, thus keeping his talented lineup intact. He team which probably was one of the teams to make money makes more money. How does this help a team who lost 25 million last year. They get a slightly lower payroll but his or her team gets no better, and no way to play with the teams who make money.
    If the league where impose the 50/50 split and honor contracts that they have signed with players, teams like Boston, Minnesota, Calgary and they such would either have to find trading players to teams with lower payrolls or cut players thru some system like buyouts after the last CBA. This would even the playing feild and allow teams with marginal talent improve and maybe attract fans. But Jacobs will not allow that to happen because he sees this as not fair to his team and him. So lets blame the players. Easy and they are not us but them. Until some radical idea which includes a fair way to divide, like better teams that make money buying cap space from teams at the cap floor to go over the cap, this situation will continue.

  7. I thought before the lockout started Bettman had said the CBA only needed a little tweaking…..?

    Life goes on I guess.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  8. NHL = I don’t care anymore.. It saddens me to say it but I did and
    It actually feels good. ( I DON’T CARE ANYMORE !!!!) sigh…
    How did this happen.?. Where did you go so wrong…
    Merry Christmas everyone.