NHL Lockout Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2012.

With NHL CBA talks stalled, Winter Classic could be cancelled, criticism of league commissioner Gary Bettman growing, NHLPA director Donald Fehr working to keep membership informed, plus the latest on Martin Brodeur, Eric Staal and Patrick Eaves.


NHL lockout could force cancellation of Winter Classic.

ESPN.COM: As NHL CBA negotiations remain stalled, a source familiar with the NHL’s plans said the league plans to cancel the Winter Classic on Thursday.

NHL PRO HOCKEY TALK: cited RDS.CA’s Renaud Lavoie, who confirmed the two sides remain in touch via e-mail and phone calls, though no formal negotiations have been scheduled.

 NEW YORK TIMES: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league has no plans to reschedule the Winter Classic if forced to cancel it for this season.

 NATIONAL POST: Hurricane Sandy forced the league to close its mid-town New York offices yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted yesterday, cancellation of the Winter Classic would be a significant move by the league, but it doesn’t mean the season is lost. The bulk of the league’s revenue comes in the second half of the season, when teams are jockeying for playoff berths, as well as the playoffs themselves, when teams aren’t paying their players. Yes, the Winter Classic does account for a decent chunk of that revenue, but the league could still earn significant revenue this season by playing a 60-game schedule, provided a deal can be reached in time to facilitate such a schedule.

SPORTSNET.CA: Nick Kypreos speculates over the possibility some NHL owners could be unhappy over Commissioner Bettman’s handling of this lockout.

SPORTING NEWS: Christopher Botta reports not to expect Bettman to be going anywhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Bettman runs a tight ship, and has a small but influential group of owners on his side. All he needs is the support of eight owners, and he can shoot down any proposal he doesn’t agree with. Unless a significant number of owners publicly break ranks and criticize Bettman or call for his ouster, he remains captain of the NHL ship. Don’t expect a “palace coup” to bring this lockout to an end.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russa reports NHLPA director Donald Fehr was in Minnesota meeting with more than 30 locked-out NHL players, bringing them up to date on the lockout, and addressing the concerns of those worried about lost wages during this lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s considerably more transparency in the NHLPA compared to the previous lockout, and by all accounts, Fehr had done a great job keeping the players informed and boosting their morale. That being said, he has a more difficult job keeping over 700 players unified than Bettman does with 29 teams owners (since, of course, the league still owns the Phoenix Coyotes). I’m not suggesting the players will crack, just pointing out Fehr will have a tougher job keeping his troops unified than Bettman does.

ESPN.COM: Martin Brodeur is mulling the possibility of playing in Europe if this lockout continues, but he’s also worried about the damage it is inflicting upon the NHL brand.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has had better birthdays.

 DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves is still suffering headaches a year after suffering a concussion.


  1. : Nick Kypreos claiming the owners are cracking?
    : Nick Kypreos claiming the players are stronger then ever?
    omg this is truly amazing and shocking.
    Whats next?,other EX players now sportscasters supporting the players and claiming 100% solidarity and that the owners are cracking?
    Wow,the next thing you know there may even be some players quoted as saying the league is trying to screw them or that they may stay in the KHL.
    Nah,never happen.

  2. I fail to understand how canceling the winter classic will hurt the players. On the contrary, it hurts the owners.

    Bettman is so busy being petty and punitive that he’s losing sight of the ultimate goal.

    • Hurts the players because whatever offer they had before will be going down even more.

      bettman losing sight of the goal?
      he is the oly one that even tried to get anything going.
      fehr has done nothing totally nothing.
      owners wanted to start talks a year ago and he said no and again no to the 4 other times they asked.
      since talks finally started he has done nothing but counter offers with completely different offers that change nothing and keep everything status quo.
      fehr complains the owners will not talk when all he is doing is repeating his own stance so why bother?
      this all comes down to fehr believing the owners will crack because baseball cracked in 94 so he figures sitting and waiting will get things his way.
      he is dead wrong and the majority of this fiasco right now is on him.

      • Thank you, Mr Jacobs, for that “insightful” response.

        The owners will only talk if THEY can set the agenda for the meeting.

        The owners refuse to negotiate.

        They’ve made 3 take it or leave it offers.

        The owners walked out within 10 minutes of being presented 3 different offers by Fehr. They didn’t even give themselves time to read the offers, just said that the players had to respond to their offer.

        The owners’ offers do little to address the real underlying issue of the league, which is the health of the struggling franchises. Their offers are mainly money grabs by the rich teams. The players’ offers require more revenue sharing from the rich to the poor teams, which is an excellent idea, but the league won’t discuss it.

        The owners refuse to negotiate what is called a win-win negotiation, which what is usually required to reach a deal.

        Yes, Bettman has made the owners tons of money so far, so they will certainly keep him around.

  3. TSN has reported that the only way the league will meet with the players is an agenda.

  4. Lets see, I am Joe Owner, one of the quiet ones. People keep telling me to fire Bettman.

    Work stoppages……yes Bettman has been involved in 3 of them (Fehr has more but who’s counting) and in the previous two stoppages, players share of revenue went from 76% to 57% and next hopefully to 50%. So as an owner my revenue has gone up almost 26% just on that basis.

    Under Bettman overall league revenue has from $400 million to $3.3 Billion, now that is math that I like, so on income my revenue has gone up almost 10 times.

    Under Bettman the league has expanded to 30 teams, possibly 32 in the near future, and my share of of expansion fees was a nice chunk of change.

    Under Bettman the league has finally signed a very nice TV contract and once again, a nice chunk of $200 milion every year in my pocket.

    Under Bettman, new avenues of revenue, especially the Winter and Heritage classics have brought in huge numbers of new fans and revenue.

    And my favorite, as an owner, Bettman has done an absolutely perfect job of being a front man and taking all the heat away from owners……hell most people cant name 3 different owners.

    I think we keep this guy

  5. Now on the other hand….as one of Fehr’s minions….Pretend I am Jim Vandermeer, I am a 32 year old journeyman defenseman who is a UFA this summer. I have made just over $11 million in my career, but this may be my last contract in the NHL. If I lose a season, that’s no money coming in, and bills going out. I am a year older, a year slower with fewer and fewer options. What do I gain by holding out?

    Absolutely nothing, I have no contract right now, so I don’t lose any money, and when and if the league starts, I am just going to be glad to get a chance to play.

    Now pretend I am Gary Suter. I got my $10 million bonus, so my bills are covered this year, and maybe enough left over to take the kids to Disney with all the free time. What do I have to lose?

    If the league gets what it wants, I lose $1.5 million this year, leaving me only $10.5 million, not including the $10 million bonus I am using to to get by. NO WAY am I going to sign off on that.

    So who really suffers? This is why the players will never win……the disparity between the top 100 and the bottom 300 is massive.

    And Lyle, another question for you. what is Fehr’s end game?

    We all know what the owners want in the long run. They want a 50/50 split, term limits and bridge contracts etc. But has anyone got an idea of what NHLPA actually wants? We know what they don’t want to do, we have heard that from day one, but what do they want? What is the NHLPA’s checklist of items they must have?

    I have to wonder how you can negotiate when only one side actually has a target. So far, it seems to me that all the NHLPA and Fehr have presented are proposals that ignore and counter the NHL’s proposals. I really would like to know, what Fehr really wants…..because I have a feeling not even the players have the answer to that question.

    • Fehr’s “end game” is what it’s always been: get the best deal possible for the players. They would accept a 50-50 split, as long as the league honors existing contracts. I can see both sides working out something whereby they ease into this division of revenue, rather than implement it all at once as the league wants to, to lessen the effects of increased escrow upon salaries. How long it takes both sides to reach that agreement remains to be seen.

  6. It seems to me that the players are more concerned with their current contracts being honored than with the revenue split. If I was Bettman, I’d propose a front-loaded CBA that leads to a better than 50-50 split. For instance, I’d propose that the player portion of the revenue be 55-53-51-49-47-47 over the next 6 years. I’d even guarantee that every player gets the full value of their current contract (which shouldn’t cost an penny extra as long as league revenues grow). That would give the players an average take of 50.33% of revenues and have their shiny contracts respected, but they would start the next CBA negotiations with only a 47% share. Presumably most owners are in this for the long-haul and are willing to make minor sacrifices now to get more revenue over the long run.