Posts Tagged ‘National Hockey League Players’ Association’

One way to look at this is the whole league is returning from injury that kept them out for 34 games. Here are a few things you can expect to see in camp and in the early going:

1. Guys who played in Europe and the ‘A’ will be noticeably ahead of players who hung out at scrimmages and/or skated on their own.

2. Adjusting to the ice. It’s much harder for goalies because the angles are all different. The primary and secondary high percentage shooting areas cover more space on the larger European ice surface. For skaters, it’s mostly adapting to the feeling of being hurried on the smaller NA ice.

3. Teams with little roster turnover will have a jump over teams breaking in new players at key positions. Count our Ducks among the latter.

4. Expect 35 or fewer players invited to camp. Maybe fewer than 30 for teams without many roster questions. You will also see a more tryout contracts offered  to the many UFA’s available by teams with unanswered roster questions.

5. Sloppy play! When you come back after a long layoff the hardest thing to get back is your timing and coordination. Give it 5 weeks and a dozen or so in season games before becoming overly judgmental.

Overall, this is quite different from the start of season where everyone is starting even. You’ve got guys coming in from the ‘A’ and Europe who are in game shape playing with and against guys trying to find their legs. Goalies adjusting to angles.

And maybe most of all will be the Refs. Let’s hope there’s an improvement on the uneven and unpredictability of the officiating. Consistency in penalty calling will do more than anything else in returning the game to the players and fans.

 

 

Update: Various media outlets are reporting that progress was made yesterday. Per former Duck Mathieu Schneider, now an NHLPA rep:

“In general, when you’re dealing with collective bargaining, when you start to have agreements on smaller issues, it can lead to bigger issues.”

Specifically the sides agreed to increase testing for performance enhancing drugs. Big whoop but as suggested finding agreement and dispensing with issues builds momentum to finding agreement on the core economic issues.

Steve Fehr, Counsel to the NHLPA said much the same:

“I don’t want to use the adjective optimistic, but it was a productive discussion. We had a good session and hopefully it will continue and build momentum.”

Even NHL assistant- Commissioner Bill Daly agrees:

“In fairness, we do have to cover these issues if we’re going to reach an agreement. What we’re doing today is important, it’s just not the most important things we can be doing.”

Update end.

The respective major domos from the NHL and NHLPA have scheduled meetings today and through weekend. These are the first formal meetings since the lockout two weeks ago. In and of itself that alone should be reason for hope. This blog sees more.

The purpose of the weekend meetings is to table mostly non-economic issues such as health and safety. In other words, the grand poohbas will consider the less controversial and provocative items. The topics upon which it is easier to reach agreement. The idea is you begin agreeing on this and that and pretty soon you have momentum building toward finding common ground on the more contentious issues.

In practice, I’m not one for tea leaf reading. I’ve always hated those moments outside the courtroom or in the bar waiting on a decision and second guessing the trial or hearing. As with all unanswerable questions, it’s a complete waste of time.

Fact is, while everybody has opinions, nobody knows how long this lockout will last. What we do know is that the negotiators have agreed to meet and deal with issues easier to resolve. Given that they weren’t formally engaged at all and that they’ve agreed on what to talk about it, is evidence of modest progress.

For any policy wonks and employment law practioners out there, Sean Gordon and Elliotte Friedman, each of the Globe and Mail, address the yin and yang of collusion.

Like Friedman, I too considered collusion was the unwritten rule that Devellano referenced. The reaction of the NHL, a $250,000.00 fine, is a STFU if there ever was one.

In hockey the written rule prohibits tripping. The unwritten rule is that you trip to prevent a scoring opportunity. It’s as true on the ice as it is in the boardroom.

 

September 15 came and went with a whimper befitting the lack of leadership that has befallen hockey’s premiere league.

As an honorably withdrawn member of SAG, Teamsters and the UAW, I can tell you that a union is only as strong as its membership. Donald Fehr is a talented and proven union leader but he came to the table as a gamer and tactician. It is understandable that as the NHLPA President, Fehr wasn’t ready to begin negotiations a year ago as the NHL had wanted. Fehr’s first stated priority was to unite the membership.

That shouldn’t have prevented him from appointing a committee of agents and players to at least hear NHL offers and thinking. Except it did. Fehr’s priority upon taking up the cause was to unite the PA in preparation for exactly what has occurred, a lockout. It’s almost as though the back and forth of this summer was merely going through the motions for the hard bargaining to come.

Most of the blame is rightly placed at the door of the owners. For a year the owner’s said the current CBA need only minor tweaking. Forget that regardless of what the CBA ultimately says, teams desiring to win enabled by agents looking to benefit their clients, will FUBAR the next CBA.

The single accomplishment of Don Fehr is to make the owner’s the bad guy. Not that Bettman’s Bobbleheads haven’t assisted.

The real problem preventing timely resolution is the NHL’s contracts with its partners and fans. The NHL won’t pay a significant financial price for its mismanagement. The $200m television contract with NBC is automatically extended in the event of a lockout. Just like those tickets fans are buying. It’s called a make good.

Now you know exactly why the NHL/NHLPA can afford to take their partners and fans for granted. They’ll make it up and most of us will accept it. They’re arrogant because we fans and corporate partners enable them.

 

via NHL Trade Report:

Bettman & Daily met with 5 NHLPA reps. Former Duck Zenon Konopka characterized the meeting as educational. At least they listened as each side explained its respective latest offer/responsive counter-offer.

Cause for hope? Meh, it is what it is. They should have been at this point months ago were it not for the NHL stating as recently as 60 days ago  that the current CBA need only minor tweaking. The NHL’s minor tweak is a 20% haircut from the players and “Oh BTW,  you want more revenue sharing? Okay but you pay for that too.”

One possible resolution is multi-pronged, (1) the players offer the cost certainty of accepting the NHL’s 5 year EL’s, 10 years to UFA and 5 yr contracts and the elimination of arbitration, (2) Maintain the current definition of Hockey Related Revenues (HRR) that provides for capital cost allowances and leaves the players a  50-54% of HRR less the capital cost allowance, (3) Eliminate the escrow.  (more…)

Update: One corporate media reporter agrees with this blog post. In No surprises in NHL’s offer, ESPN’s Scott Burnside lays it out for the grownups out there.

The A-Z media chorus essentially labeling the owner’s initial offer as a declaration of war is just Town Crier noise on an otherwise slow hockey news day.
As someone who has sat in the room during similar negotiations, I assure you a stone cold pro like Donald Fehr isn’t having any hissy drama fit after the owner’s submitted their initial low ball offer. Jeez, I once packed up my file, closed my briefcase and had one foot out the door when a lender relented and acquiesced on a point.

Each side has already agreed to play next season under the current CBA. The characterizations like declaration of war, lockout looming is just blah blah blah. Don’t take any of it seriously at this point.