NHL Lockout Morning Coffee Headlines – November 27, 2012.

With CBA negotiations stalled, the NHL and NHLPA agree to bring in a third party mediator.

TSN.CA/CANADIAN PRESS: The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to bring in US federal mediators in hopes some objective voices can bring the current NHL lockout to an end. Mediation was attempted twice during the last NHL lockout but proved unsuccessful. The mediators decision, however, would be non-binding. They are expected to meet with negotiators from the league and PA on Wednesday.

Can US federal mediator George H. Cohen bring an end to NHL lockout?

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle reports mediation failed to bring about an end to the recent labor strife in the NBA and NFL because of the entrenched positions between owners and players.

SPORTSNET.CA: Mark Spector on how the Twitter account of one of the three mediators led to his dismissal barely hours after it was announced they were being brought into the NHL CBA negotiations, taking the current NHL labor standoff to a new level of ridiculousness.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also doubts the federal mediators will have much effect in bringing an end to the NHL lockout. He also reports NHLPA director Donald Fehr proposed mediation a month ago, but his suggestion was dismissed out of hand by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.  Brooks cited “several team executives” are growing frustrated with the league’s “all or nothing” approach to negotiations, while players are beginning to grow more pessimistic over a deal  being reached via negotiation, believing the league will only open its doors if the PA capitulates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mediation isn’t a bad idea at this point, but because the mediators decision is non-binding, don’t get your hopes up expecting this process will bring an end to the lockout. The best we can hope for is that it’ll move the two sides closer to a negotiated deal to salvage what’s left of this season at some point in December.

SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL: Executives are weighing the impact the lockout is having upon the NHL’s future sponsors.

“National sponsors will eventually have to move their dollars because they have to sell soap, beer or whatever,” said Peter Luukko, president and CEO of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center. “Locally, there’s more loyalty, sponsor-wise, and not as many choices, though obviously we don’t take them for granted.”

 “If I was a company being courted by the NHL today, or if I was advising a company being courted, I would be concerned,” said Michael Neuman, the managing partner at Scout Sports and Entertainment, the agency for Geico, which has league sponsorship rights, and around 20 complementary NHL team deals. “The current commissioner [Gary Bettman, commissioner since 1993] has three work stoppages under his belt.”

 “New sponsors are going to be the slowest thing to get back,” said Genesco Sports Enterprises CEO John Tatum, whose clients include league sponsors MillerCoors and Pepsi. “They had so much momentum with last season’s playoffs and all the postseason games on national TV for the first time [on NBC and NBC Sports Network]. Fans will come back, but you have to reclaim some portion of their media consumption, because that has changed. I’m also concerned about the franchises that were struggling before the lockout.”

 SPORTING NEWS: The NHL lockout is wreaking havoc upon NHL licensing deals and memorabilia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not just the fan base the NHL risks alienating with this lockout. Part of the reason the league saw record-breaking revenue over the past several years was the attraction of big name sponsors. The league’s habit of implementing lengthy lockouts following each CBA could have an adverse effect upon its ability to attract and retain lucrative sponsorship deals, as well as the problems it creates with licensing and memorabilia. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby considers his playing overseas a strong possibility now.

MLIVE.COM: Veteran Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi doubts there will be NHL hockey this season, suggesting it could take years to repair the damage.

 USA TODAY: The planners of Operation Hat Trick, a recent charity game involving locked-out NHL players to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy, are thinking of staging another.

6 Comments

  1. the sponsors go where the ratings tell them to go.
    when hockey returns the ratings will dictate the cost to advertise and once the ratings begin to climb they will all be back.
    just like a lot of fans are saying they will not return but will once the game is being played.
    i was in a store yesterday and saw NHL stuff in plenty of carts waiting in line.
    out of curiosity i asked the guy behind me why the work stoppage has apparently not bothered him and he simply said ‘not costing me anything so who cares and my kid wanted the sweatsuit’.
    When the game returns a home team winning streak is all that will matter.

    • It’s totally logical to expect that, going forward, big-dollar national corporations like Geico will be disinclined to sign long-term sponsorship deals (more than five years) as long as Bettman and his history of work stoppages is a factor. They don’t like to deal with that level of uncertainty. ESPN dumped their NHL broadcast deal entirely after the ’04-’05 lockout, replaced it with poker tournaments, and never looked back.

      • ESPN did not dump hockey.
        they tried to get them very cheap thinking they had no competition and got beat out.
        This most recent contract they bid again and got beat out again.

  2. I agree with Brooks. To me the idea of bringing in a mediator “now” is questionable and seems more of a PR stunt on both sides behalf. Both sides have had major PR gaffs lately (Bettmans 2 week break, Fehrs Decertification threat) and by bringing in a mediator allows both sides to say “see we are still trying” but the reality is, as like last time, it will serve no purpose. I believe its a last step before calling the season. In fact, if both sides cared about the fans at all, they would simply call the season now, let us move past it without the constant media barrage about nothing. Give the fans time to recover and get excited over the draft lottery and who might win…..and bring the sides together again in the summer…..

    As far as advertisers….I agree with the previous poster. The money will follow the fans. There has not been a single documented occasion where a work stoppage has hurt hockey in any way, shape or form, and though some pundits seem to be hoping this will happen, it wont. The fans will come back, and so will the advertisors…

    • The NHLPA had to get some kind of mediator and have no real plan to listen to them.
      one of the criteria allowing them to decertify is documented use of mediation.
      Fehr knows exactly what to do step by step to decertify and i am thinking the way he has stonewalled talks and made no real attempt to bargain that this has been the plan since day one.

  3. get rid of all the mediators. fire bettman and fehr. let mario and crosby negotiate a cba. there , you have an owner and a player who dont hate each other and are not aholes.