NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2012.

Mixed responses to the NHL’s initial CBA proposal to the NHLPA, and a new “memorandum of understanding” between the NHL and KHL has reportedly been signed.



How will NHLPA respond to NHL’s first proposal.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks is very critical of the NHL’s initial new CBA offer to the NHLPA, pointing out it amounts to a 22 percent reduction of the players’ revenue share, rolling it back to where it was in 2002-03, while lowering the salary cap ceiling for next season to $52.5 million. Brooks accuses the league of wanting to roll the clock back to the 1960s, when the players were powerless and had no leverage, suggesting their extension of the entry level contract to five years combined with extending the UFA eligibility age would result in a form of a reserve clause tying a player to a team for ten years. He also believes anyone who considers this merely a first proposal by the league are “kidding themselves”.

“This is an immediate attempt to measure the willingness of the players to fight, to gauge their unity, to divide and conquer just the way the league succeeded the last time in busting a union undermined by enemies within”.

SPORTSNET.CA: Michael Grange marvels at what he considers the “split personality” of the team owners.

“By day they’re at the bargaining table asking for term limits on contracts and the elimination of signing bonuses and contracts with cap friendly salary structures. By night they’ve grown paws, are howling at the moon and stuffing money into the hockey socks of any player who smiles at them.”

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Mark Whicker didn’t consider the league’s offer a proposal but rather a “home invasion”, and scolds Commissioner Gary Bettman for “firing scuds” at NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr.

DENVER POST: Adrian Dater, however, characterizes the league’s proposal as a “teasing time” low-ball offer, which the players won’t accept. He cites a source claiming the players won’t go anywhere below 52 percent of their revenue.

ESPN.COM: Scott Burnside believes no one should be surprised by the league’s proposal, but also claims “any suggestion that the players are either offended or surprised by such a proposal is specious”. He goes on to point out it’s only mid-July, and the current agreement doesn’t expire until mid-September, suggesting plenty of time exists for further negotiations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Opinion regarding the seriousness of the league’s proposal seems to be mixed, but there’s unanimity among the punditry and blogosphere it’s one the PA won’t accept. For the record, I’m in the camp that Mr. Brooks believes are kidding themselves, though I have no doubt the league’s main issue is to force the players to accept a reduced share of hockey-related revenue. If the league actually sticks by this initial proposal and refuses to be flexible, then yes, I’ll agree with Brooks it’s a “declaration of war” on the PA. Otherwise, I share the opinion of Burnside and Dater.

I did read one reaction on Twitter that this proposal seems gauged to help small market teams and increase parity. Sorry, but that’s what the current CBA was supposed to do. This won’t help small market teams, but  merely kicks the can down the road  on their financial problems. Furthermore, a system which ensures a player spends his first ten seasons with one team turns parity into a parody. 

KHL.RU: The NHL and Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) have reportedly agreed on a new “memorandum of understanding”, which essentially extends the previous one governing the signing of players, and restricting both sides from “poaching” players currently under contract.


  1. If the hypocrite owners really want to help the small market teams, but they should adopt a revenue sharing plan. What they are trying to do is to get the players to finance the small market teams, while giving the large market teams even more obscene profits.

    At least this time, however, the owners and Bettman aren’t telling the fans that they’re doing it for us to drop ticket prices.

  2. It’s like when you go sell your truck, you ask for $10,000, but you really would take $8,000. Both sides will do this, where the problem comes in is when your ‘real’ numbers don’t match up with the others. Thus I take these initial reports with a grain of salt.

    That all being said.. why can’t they just go 50/50 on revenues and move on to the next item?

  3. The only parts of this first offer that are even reasonable are the limited contract to 5 years and no more front loading contracts. The rest of this is all a cover to get the palyers to give up more money.

    This is another prime example of how the rich corporate types want to take all the profits and share none. I’m not saying that the players are hurting, but this is indicative of a greater social economic problem.

  4. Sorry, I don’t understand how this kicks the can down the road for the small market teams. Every action has unintended consequences as the owners learned from the last CBA. In their wildest dreams I can’t imagine any of them would have expected the situation to devolve into what it became. From their initial proposal, I would say the owners learned something.

    As for Brooks, who can be surprised by his comments. Can you really feel sorry for these players, Larry? The lowest paid player in the league makes 10 times as much as the average Joe. Let’s not plead poverty here.

    While I do think this a a low-ball offer, I think it was supposed to send a message. The system is broken, a great many of the teams are struggling financially and something has to change. If the biggest expense is players’ salaries that is what you have to look at first.

    While you can blame the owners as a group, it only takes one or two to throw the whole system off the rails. And when one owner tosses in the towel another comes along who thinks they are just a little bit smarter than the rest. Buffalo is a prime example.

    The problem is that the only way the small market teams can survive under the current structure is to win, but that is a mugs game because you can only have one winner. These owners have been rolling the dice, losing and disappearing, only to be replaced by another group.

    I think a dose of reality is in order for players, fans and a few owners.

  5. @Oss Totally agree, revenue sharing is the only way to totally fix the NHL and with term limits/ anti front loading contracts.

    I will through this out for any legal beagles out there. If the owners decide not to offer bonuses or place a cap on contracts would that not be illegal? are there not labour laws that prohibit companies from doing that?
    Secondly, all owners would have to sit down and work out an agreement to not offer such contracts because the one person that does, will get all the best UFAs. There is a lot of gripping about owners looking for the CBA to save them from themselves but the CBA also serves as an agreement between owners as to how everyone is going to act, not just between players and owners.

    • I think all employee contracts are considered “at will”, as long as the terms of the contract coincide with union agreements, company policy etc. No company is required to offer a bonus. I would think that term limits would be like any employee, union or not, that there is an agreed upon time that employee and employer will sit down and discuss the terms of employment. I may just be talking outta my ass though too, LOL