The latest on this weekend’s NHL CBA negotiations, player agents also feeling the lockout pinch, update on the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes, and the Blues reorganize their front office.


Bettman & Fehr hold private talks, but lockout drags on.

CBC.CA: The NHL and NHLPA continued the second day of negotiations Saturday on non-core economic issues and other factors, while NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Director Donald Fehr had their second day of private discussions hoping to find a way to “bridge the gap” between the two sides. Neither side would go into specifics as to what Bettman and Fehr discussed. Talks are expected to continue today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, and will undoubtedly say it a hundred times more over the course of this lockout: Until the two sides reach an agreement on the distribution of hockey-related revenue, it doesn’t matter if they’ve reached agreements on issues like drug testing and player safety. HRR is the primary sticking point, and until that’s resolved, the lockout will continue.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHLPA has been the only side in this dispute which has made concessions, and the league will expect them to make more. Brooks suggests the basis of a settlement will be for the union to “have to submit a long-term proposal under which the players’ share eventually decreases to the same 49-51 percent band the NBA players accepted last season if the NHL guarantees all existing contracts through their entirety at an escrow rate capped at no more than five percent and the systems issues are not overhauled.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Something I’ve also frequently said is the players will have to agree to a 50-50 split, and then negotiate off of that. The NHL owners want to see a”49-51 percent” split akin to those the NBA and NFL owners extracted from their players during their respective lockouts last year, and they won’t accept paying their players more than that. Call it “keeping up with the Joneses”. If the owner of one sports league got their players to accept a 50-50 split, the NHL owners want the same.

TAMPABAY.COM: Damian Cristodero suggests one reason for the hold-up in the negotiations is neither side has felt the financial pain from the lockout yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The owners are counting on the players feeling that pain first and breaking, just as they did in the last lockout. The owners can afford to ride out an entire season of a lockout. It remains to be seen how many players will be able to this time around.

NEW YORK TIMES: Jeff Z. Klein on why how NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman cemented his position among the league owners, as well as how much influence he truly wields, citing the following example:

 “In 2008, after the Rangers owner James L. Dolan unsuccessfully sued the N.H.L. for not allowing the team to run its own Web site, the commissioner responded with a scorched-earth countersuit that threatened to strip the Rangers from the Dolan family. The matter was settled out of court, with Madison Square Garden paying the league’s legal fees, and Dolan has been a quiet figure on the N.H.L. Board of Governors ever since, despite the Rangers’ vast wealth.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the notion of a wealthy moderate owner like Dolan stepping up on his own to challenge Bettman and his cabal of hawkish owners. It would take an overwhelming majority of team owners turning against Bettman and his group to have an effect upon how the league approaches its current CBA talks with the NHLPA. That’s another reason why I keep expressing my doubts over the players winning a war of attrition against the owners.

NJ.COM: Some NHL player agents are also feeling the economic pinch of the current NHL lockout.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues buyout of former team president John Davidson’s contract was part of a reorganization of the business side of a team which lost $20 million last season despite a 109-point regular season.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: David Shoalts reports a revised arena lease agreement for the Phoenix Coyotes will be presented to the Glendale city council this Tuesday, which would see prospective buyer Greg Jamison receive less money up front in the first five years than originally agreed upon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Will the Glendale city council vote to accept the new agreement? Will Jamison be happy earning fewer millions in the first five years? Will the Coyotes saga finally come to an end? Will Shane Doan’s final seasons in Arizona be happy ones? Wll the rescue party find little Jimmy at the bottom of the well in time? And what next for weird Mary? Tune in again tomorrow for the latest in the NHL’s ongoing soap opera, “Howling in the Desert”, or “How to lose millions in a desert sinkhole without really trying”.