SBD/Issue 244/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • NHL Reportedly Gives NHLPA Ultimatum On Three Long-Term Deals

    Marian Hossa's Contract With Blackhawks
    One Of Three Under Scrutiny From NHL

    The NHL has "given the NHLPA an ultimatum regarding the contested front-loaded contract of not only" Devils LW Ilya Kovalchuk, but Canucks G Roberto Luongo and Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa as well, according to a source cited by Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST. The source indicated that the NHL has told the union that it "will grandfather the recently submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100M contract, Luongo's 12-year, $64M deal that is entering its second season and Hossa's 12-year, $63.3M deal that also is entering its second season into the CBA" under certain conditions. Those conditions include that the salary cap hit on future multiyear contracts "will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age" and will be "calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only." Also, the cap hit on "future contracts longer than five years will be calculated under a formula granting additional weight to the five years with the highest salary." Brooks reports the league has given the NHLPA, "being directed by Donald Fehr, until Friday" at 5:00pm ET to "accept these conditions." If the union refuses, the league reportedly has said that it will reject the Kovalchuk deal, "move to immediately devoid" Luongo's contract and "move to immediately open proceedings for a formal investigation into the Hossa contract" (N.Y. POST, 9/2). In L.A., Helene Elliott wrote this is an "outright declaration of hostility on the league’s part and increases the likelihood of a labor war after the current agreement expires" in September '12 (LATIMES.com, 9/1).

    WHAT'S TWO MORE DAYS? The NHL and NHLPA yesterday announced that they have "mutually agreed to extend the deadline" for a decision on Kovalchuk's contract until Friday at 5:00pm, two days after a "decision was supposed to be reached." Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello said that he "did not know the reason for the extension." But he said, "We're not discouraged. They've decided to extend it. They can make a decision before, but the end line is Friday. Both sides agreed to the extension and I'm sure there is a reason." In Newark, Rich Chere notes a "two-day extension is somewhat surprising in that the contract submitted by the Devils to the league last week cannot be altered." The NHL "must make a decision based on the contract that was submitted late last week" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/2). The submitted Devils-Kovalchuk contract reportedly has a "less steep drop in its later years than the first contract," which the NHL rejected (LATIMES.com, 9/1). If the NHL rejects the latest deal, Kovalchuk and the union "would once again have the right to appeal the decision in front of an arbitrator, but time could be running out." NHL training camps open two weeks from tomorrow, and reports have suggested that Kovalchuk is "contemplating playing" in Russia's KHL "if a deal could not be reached by last weekend" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/2).

    A LOOK ON THE BRIGHTSIDE: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote the deadline has been extended to Friday because "maybe this is less about the Kovalchuk deal specifically and more about how to get out from under the shadow cast by these kinds of deals in general." Burnside: "How refreshing would it be if, sometime before Friday afternoon, the NHL and NHLPA announced a new set of guidelines governing long-term deals?" (ESPN.com, 9/1). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote if the NHL and NHLPA "are really using the 48-hour extension in the Kovalchuk decision to hammer out some kind of mid-CBA agreement on how to handle these deals, it's probably a good thing for everybody ... except maybe Kovalchuk" (THESTAR.com, 9/2).

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  • NFL Expects Per-Game Attendance To Drop To Lowest Levels Since '98

    NFL Average Game Attendance Expected To
    Fall To Lowest Level Since '98 Season

    NFL Exec VP/Ventures & Business Eric Grubman said that the league "expects overall attendance to drop for the third straight season" this year, and for average game attendance to fall "to its lowest levels since the 1998 season," according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Grubman predicted that overall ticket sales "will drop 1% to 2% this season," and that total season-ticket sales "will be down even more, about 5%." However, Grubman "expects many clubs to make up that shortfall by selling more single-game tickets, partial season ticket packages and more tickets in the secondary resale market." McCarthy noted the NFL during the '07 season, "when the recession began," posted a "record high of 17.4 million in ticket sales, and 67,755 in average game attendance." But the numbers have "declined every season since that high-water mark," and last season ticket sales "dropped 2.6% to 16.7 million, while game attendance slid 2.4% to 65,043." Grubman said that a problem for the NFL is that the "live game experience is competing with the increasingly more high-tech home viewing experience." That has "made TV a huge bright spot for the NFL," which last season "drew its biggest audiences in 20 years" (USATODAY.com, 9/1).

    FINDING A LOOPHOLE? The AP's Joseph White cited a source as indicating that the NFLPA is "looking into whether trades made by" the Redskins, Rams, Eagles and Cardinals this week are "attempts to avoid paying money into a rookie pool." The Redskins Monday traded sixth-round draft pick TE Dennis Morris to the Rams for a conditional, undisclosed draft pick, and the Rams traded fifth-round pick DE Hall Davis to the Redskins, "also for a conditional, undisclosed pick." Redskins coach Mike Shanahan at the time said that Morris was "traded because he wasn't going to make the 53-man roster," but the Redskins cut Davis "after one practice." White noted under CBA rules, if a drafted rookie is "cut by the team that drafted him, that team is required to pay 85% of that player's salary into a rookie pool" (AP, 9/1).

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  • League Notes

    Manchester City Spent More Than Any EPL
    Club During This Summer's Transfer Window

    EPL clubs spent approximately $539M (all figures U.S.) during this summer's 12-week transfer period, the "lowest figure in four years" and down from $692M in '09 and $814M two years ago. Manchester City was the summer’s “biggest spender, splashing out around” $192M, an amount “almost four times as much as archrival Manchester United." EPL clubs during January's transfer period spent only $46M, "the lowest since the mid-season window was introduced" in '03. UEFA President Michel Platini said, “For years and years, we were in total anarchy. But we can see that clubs are spending less. Transfers haven’t been as crazy in the last few years" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/1).

    LOOKING FOR FACE TIME: NHL Dir of Social Media Marketing & Strategy Michael DiLorenzo said that more than 40 NHL players are Twitter users but “fewer than 40 players also use Facebook or have fan pages on Facebook.” In L.A., Helene Elliott reports the NHL is “examining how to balance the potential for invaluable promotion against the potential for harm.” DiLorenzo in an e-mail said, “We have not had a policy governing the use of social networks by players but are in the process of developing one. We have, at times, provided counsel to clubs and even individual players on some basic guidelines for sensible usage” (L.A. TIMES, 9/2).

    ASIAN INVASION: GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie reports Taiwan “won’t be the only new addition to the LPGA’s Asian Swing." Tournament organizers reportedly are “working toward bringing an event back to China, penciling it in after Singapore.” The addition of another Asia tournament would bring the “count to seven events in 2011” (GOLFWEEK, 9/3 issue).

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