SBD/September 28, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Lockout, Day 13: NHL Cancels Rest Of Preseason; CBA Talks Scheduled For Weekend

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To the "surprise of no one, the NHL cancelled the second half of the 2012 preseason schedule Thursday, citing the fact there is no collective bargaining agreement currently in place between the league and the players," according to Eric Duhatschek of the GLOBE & MAIL. Talks between the two sides "on non-core economic issues are supposed to begin Friday in New York and theoretically are scheduled to last for three days." But since the "pivitol difference between the two sides is largely financial, it is unclear what, if any, traction they might find in this new round of negotiations while focusing on matters such as contract terms, arbitration and free agency." The regular season is scheduled to start Oct. 11 and "leverage in the negotiations may shift at that point, because that's when players start to draw their salaries" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/28). In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes neither side "will say they're coming armed with a new proposal and the prospects of a new deal by Sunday are grim." The "popular thinking -- as framed by the NHL -- is that it is up to the players to come with a new proposal." A source on the players' side said that concessions "are the theme of their proposals and they're still waiting to see if the NHL makes an offer with concessions included." If talks "end badly by Sunday, some players surmise that an exodus to Europe will follow" (TORONTO STAR, 9/28). Also in Toronto, Lance Hornby notes the NHL has "insisted it's waiting for the union to come back with something substantive, but nothing major is in the cards just yet" (TORONTO SUN, 9/28). In Philadelphia, Frank Seravalli reports the league is "expected to formally begin canceling regular-season games next week" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 9/28). In Minneapolis, Michael Russo noted former NHLer and current NHLPA rep Joe Reekie Wednesday night "provided a dinner update for the locked-out players" in the city. After talking to many of the Wild players on Thursday, Russo noted their "hope is once regular-season games are inevitably canceled that owners will start to cave once revenue is lost." Players said that if talks this weekend "go nowhere, they can see a flood of guys going overseas around Oct. 11-13, the scheduled time the regular season is supposed to begin" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 9/27).

FANS WANT AN EXPLANATION: In Detroit, Gregg Krupa writes what "encourages" the owners and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is "the players have little power." Wisdom would "dictate that amid their undeniable strength the owners and Bettman ought to reach a deal that provides for a future free of lockouts." Instead, "outright confrontation is the serial negotiating tactic of the Bettman era, the only tactic he apparently learned in his long employment by both the NHL and the NBA." Bettman and a "core of obstinate NHL owners, remain in the dark ages, utterly disrespectful of the players and fans, whom Bettman cravenly calls 'the best'" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/28). In N.Y., Pat Leonard writes fans "want an explanation for this onslaught of lockouts." Bob Batterman, a partner at the law firm Proskauer Rose who serves as labor counsel for the NFL and NHL and advised the NFL in its bargaining with officials, said, "When you get into a situation where you’ve got a salary-cap system in these leagues, where the salary cap guarantees the players a percentage of revenue, at the time you do (the deal), you’re doing it based upon your current economics and what your projections are for the future. And then over time, to the extent that those projections (may) prove wrong ... the employer is looking for a change. And the employee doesn’t want to change, they’re happy with the percentage they’re getting. So ... it’s the employer who’s got to pull the trigger to force a change downward" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/28).

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: The CP's Sean Farrell noted 20 NHLers took part in the "first game of the Tournee des Joueurs," a series of games between players from Montreal and Quebec City, at the Complex Multisports de Chateauguay Thursday night. First-come, first-serve tickets sold at the door for C$20 "drew a standing-room-only crowd of 1,250 to the multi-rink arena." Flyers C Max Talbot and D Bruno Gervais "organized the tour, which will see more games played next week in Saint-Hyacinthe and Sherbrooke" (CP, 9/27). Talbot said, "We partnered with Les Petits Tresors which provides support for autistic children, the Canadian Tire Good Start program and we'll also make a donation to the minor hockey organization or some other charity in the community we play in." He added, "We have some support from McDonald's and CCM-Reebok and we're open to anyone else who wants to help." In Montreal, Pat Hickey notes fans began arriving "more than two hours before" the 7:00pm ET start, and the demand for tickets "outstripped the supply as the crowd, which included a large number of youngsters, filled every nook and cranny of the building" (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/28). Blues LW David Perron, who also is participating in the tour, said, "We tried to come up with something that would be interesting for the fans. ... The players are going to be available after games for pictures and autographs and whatever." In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford notes the games all will be played in rinks which "range from 1,300- to 3,500-seat capacity." Perron said, "We're going to try and focus on staying in the junior rinks" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/28).

TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT: In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger writes the "ripple down effect of the NHL work stoppage trickles down" not just to the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), but "throughout the sport." And that is "not necessarily a good thing." CHL President David Branch "held brainstorming sessions with CHL officials and team executives about the negative public perception" the NHL lockout might have on the junior leagues in Canada. Branch said, "We've had discussions for the need to put a positive spin on the sport of hockey. We've already talked about this with all our teams. This is about the image of hockey. One of our major concerns is that people have a negative attitude toward the game. That means we have to work that much harder." However, Branch "does acknowledge that, moving forward, the NHL lockout has resulted in an infusion of talent for the CHL" (TORONTO SUN, 9/28).

BRACING FOR THE STORM: In Raleigh, Chip Alexander notes the Hurricanes on Thursday "announced some information for season-ticket holders who plan to keep their money on account with the team." The team said that if a CBA is not reached in time to play a full regular season, there would be "5% simple interest on money kept in ticket accounts, which can be used toward additional 2012-13 regular season or playoff tickets, or toward 2013-14 season ticket renewals." Other options include a "10% discount off the season-ticket price for the 2013-14 season" and a "5% discount off the season-ticket price for the 2014-15 season" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/28).
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