NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 10, 2012.

The mudslinging via the media between the NHL and NHLPA returned following Friday’s CBA talks, fueling concerns negotiations could break down.

 

Tension & frustration boil over following fourth day of NHL CBA talks.

TSN.CA/CANADIAN PRESS: The NHL and NHLPA exchanged heated words following another lengthy session of CBA negotiations Friday as the two sides remain $380 million apart. The fundamental issue remains reducing the players share of revenue toward a 50-50 split with owners while honoring existing contracts. The NHL’s latest offer would see the players receive $211 million in guaranteed deferred “make whole” payments, based upon revenue growth, but the PA continues to have concerns revenue growth would be sufficient to cover the losses to the players contracts. No bargaining sessions were scheduled for Saturday, but league commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA director Donald Fehr both expressed the desire to continue talks over the weekend.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports more detail on the main sticking point: the “make whole” option:

“Sources on both sides confirmed to ESPN.com that the league’s Make Whole offer — an attempt to honor players’ existing contracts — amounts to $211 million of guaranteed money ($149 million in Year 1 and $62 million in Year 2, both deferred in payment by one year and payable with interest). The league’s belief is that by Year 3 of the deal, revenues will have likely grown enough that at 50 percent of HRR the players shouldn’t face much if any salary erosion in escrow. At which one NHLPA source countered, what if the revenues don’t grow that much? Then what? The union says in that case players aren’t made whole on their contracts.”

“The NHLPA, sources on both sides confirmed Friday night, instead told the league Friday that it wants a guarantee that players won’t earn a dime less than the $1.883 billion in salaries made last season plus 1.75 percent on top of that. You can imagine the league’s reaction to that. The whole point of this lockout from the owners’ perspective is to back the players down from $1.883 billion a year in salary costs.”

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reported sources claimed the league negotiators believe the memo Fehr sent out on Thursday evening to the PA membership  claiming a “significant gap” still existed between the two sides didn’t accurately portray what the league was offering, which was a 50-50 split with existing contracts being honored, something the players reportedly want if they’re to return to action under the new CBA.

“The league has promised to honor all existing contracts and guarantee players their $1.883 billion share – or 57 percent of last year’s revenue, the sources say.
In exchange for going to 50/50 immediately, players would have the reduced part of their salaries (12.3 percent) deferred one or two years, “and the owners will pay them back, plus interest, and it would not go against their share and the league is guaranteeing it no matter where the revenue of the league goes,” said one of the sources.
In Year 1, players’ salaries would be reduced about $150 million. The players who have their salaries reduced would get every cent back in a lump payment in Year 2, the source says, plus interest. In Year 2, the players’ salaries would be reduced $61 million. Those players would get that money back plus interest in a lump payment in Year 3, the source says.
By Year 3, they’d be “equal” as long as revenues go up by 5 percent.”
A source also told Russo the league believes it’s on the same page with the PA on revenue sharing, other than for a couple of issues which still need to be discussed, and it was untrue the league was still wants to PA to agree to its contract demands.
CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman reports reaction from his sources among the players to Russo’s story was swift and angry, seeing it as an attempt by the league to divide the players, while pointing out how few owners are attending the CBA talks.  Fehr responded to the Russo story by denying he hadn’t fully communicated with the PA membership, adding “NHLPA doesn’t feel it is as far apart on core economic issues as NHL says they are.” Friedman suggests the story could be the result of league and team owner frustration over Fehr’s negotiating style. “Among the complaints:
  • He doesn’t negotiate off their proposals.
  • He continues to make offers that include an overall salary raise for the players in year one
  • This week, he actually raised the amount of money he was looking for in revenue-sharing (to $260 million).
  • Friday, he kept the owners waiting before beginning scheduled talks; the second time that’s happened.
  • Rightly or wrongly, even moderates among the teams question his true devotion to the players, believing he has invested nothing in the sport and will damage it, simply walking away once this is all over. “
SPORTSNET.CA: Michael Grange believes a lack of trust between the two sides continues to hamper CBA negotiations. He provides further details on Fehr’s denials he’s not keeping the players informed.  “How to bridge the gap between the roughly $1.91 billion the players want to be paid next year and what the owners are willing to pay them remains a massive issue in a labour negotiation that is going nowhere at the moment”, writes Grange, who goes on to note the players also still want to be paid their full share for the 2012-13 season, regardless of how many games.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: David Shoalts reported NHLPA bargaining committee members Ron Hainsey and Craig Adams defended Fehr from allegations he’s not keeping the membership fully informed. Shoalts also reported Fehr clarified what the PA was seeking in its latest proposal. “Fehr said the players are seeking $1.883-billion but only an additional 1.75 per cent per year, which would be compounded over the length of the agreement. He said the union was not actually looking for this amount this season, it just wanted to establish it as part of a new economic system. Once that was done, the player salaries would be pro-rated for this season to account for any lost revenue because of a lockout-shortened schedule.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At some point in these recent talks tensions between the NHL and NHLPA had to boil over. From what I’ve read, it appears both sides are actually closer to getting a deal done, but frustration over how to reach a mutually satisfactory solution to the “make whole” option remains a significant sticking point, leading to the recent bit of mudslinging via the media.
I’m not shooting the messengers. The media has a job to do, and when they get newsworthy info from reliable sources, they’re going to report it. What we’re seeing now is the frustration and tension finally spilling over into public view after four days of lengthy discussion, with negotiators on both sides feeling pressure to get a deal done.
The league and team owners may be frustrated by Fehr, but that’s because they can’t see to figure him out. Yes, he’s playing mind games, but that’s no different than what Bettman and his crew have done, during this and in previous lockouts. Indeed, it’s obvious the league is attempting to drive a wedge between Fehr and the players by claiming he’s not keeping them fully informed of the league’s proposals. It’s the same tactic used when the league made details of its mid-October proposal public on NHL.com. Both sides are engaged in gamesmanship, but while they do, the season continues to burn away and fans grow more disgusted.
At some point,  both sides have to knock off these silly games and get down to reaching a resolution. It’s noteworthy Bettman and Fehr both expressed willingness to keep talks going today. Here’s hoping they do.

9 Comments

  1. Interesting. To me this is starting to become silly again….4 days of non stop talk and finally when the NHL doesn’t think it’s going to get anywhere, they pull a stunt and try to accuse the Union boss of not informing his players. The NHL might as well forget about that and go back to being sincere because I have a feeling if they continue to do these things the PA will dig in and we’ll go back to silence for the next few weeks…..which isn’t in anybody’s best interest. It seems Bettman has met his match and he’s getting a tast of his own medicine. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for the NHL to comprehend that honoring existing contracts is fair. If all the existing contracts amounts to 600 million, than the NHL should have a pot with 600 million in it for the sole purpose of playing these players. Bottom line here…at the time these owners signed these players, it was them who offered money and term and at the time they had no problem paying the contract (at least it was lip service)….trying to find a way out of that committment is embarassing for the league and the owners.

    • So you think it is only Bettman playing dirty and Fehr is not?
      I think you will find Fehrs dirty tricks that he used in baseball will not work against Bettman.
      They did not even really work in baseball because the last time he was in charge nothing got settled until he stepped aside and the the next in command came in and got it done.
      And of course if fehr had started talks over a year ago this may have been all settled long before any of those contracts were even done but he declined all 4 times bettman asked.
      There is no good guy in this,fehr/bettman/owners/players are all at fault.

  2. So who is Eklund sources he has everthing went fine. All I know is if there is no deal before November 24 the month of December will be gone. I believe if they don’t meet today then there will be a large gap before they meet again. I see from other sport sites the fans are saying goodbye to hockey. My sister in law lives in Miami and down there people don’t care if it comes back as panthers have a hard time already selling tickets

  3. It is very easy to see why there is so much frustration and why there is no real progress.
    this looks far closer to saying the hell with this crap over saying we are getting close lets work it out.

    one thing that stood out to us chatting last night was the ‘make whole’ proposals from each side.
    owners was based on a 5% growth that would get things about even and the PA freaked saying what if it does not grow that much.
    and yet the PA proposal is based on getting to 50/50 using what they are sure will be a 7% growth which freaks out the owners.

    it just makes no sense to say we might lose out at 5% but are sure you will do well at 7%.
    i understand the players want all their money but saying we do not think we should take any risk and then make an offer that makes the owners take a bigger risk would drive anyone up the wall.

    the other thing we all chatted over and expect is that the players have gotten revenue sharing up and may get it up even more which is a good thing to win.
    but we all can also see this win may end up being a waste and not going as they expect it will.
    like in baseball this was considered a big deal by fehr to make teams better and more competitive being able to spend more and compete with the higher earning clubs.
    the problem is the lower earning teams never did move up except for the odd team here and there which then disbanded dumping off the high cost players.
    instead the majority just stayed with a low cost team and pocketed the cash from revenue sharing.
    so in theory the players expect more revenue sharing will lead to better salaries from all teams and an increase in overall salaries when in reality it will change very little
    and the spenders will stay the spenders and the cheapos will stay the cheapos.

    we can hope the owners in hockey are more competitive then baseball and do spend it but if they don’t and pocket it we will be doing this same dance again in 6 years
    because the PA will be mad the biggest concession win has not been a win just as the owners big win last time has not turned out to be a big win.

  4. I didn’t think it possible for me to hate someone as much as I hate bettman. Fehr has shown me I was wrong.

  5. Donald is likely trying to decide if Gary will actually axe the season….and if so…..exactly when might he do it. Timing is crucial ! Knowing the EXACT time to say Let’s make a deal, just before the axe falls…..oh you are playing a very risky game Donald. An axed season will spell DOOM for your players……as you ride off to your next project. Players , do you trust Donald to make the right call just at the right moment ? You are playing a very risky game too……I don’t know guys……I just don’t know !

  6. and you know what……I can’t stand looking at those two faces anymore……I’m sick of it !

  7. Bettman says players make too much money but he makes over 8 million a year. Seems excessive to me for someone he keeps fans and players away from the game they love. If you can’ t get the job done then step aside buttman!

  8. Donald Fehr will screw thing up. anything he is involved in is bad.