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SBD/October 3, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
The NHL is "expected to announce that the 2012-13 season won't start as scheduled" as early as today after talks between the league and the NHLPA "broke off abruptly" yesterday, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. After three days of "discussing peripheral issues over the weekend," the two sides yesterday "tried to discuss the definition of hockey-related revenue." That lasted just 90 minutes (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/3). In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch reports "possibly all October games" could be lost today due to the lockout (OTTAWA SUN, 10/3). NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday after the meeting said, "No progress was made." NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr countered by saying if there was no progress, it was because the owners "didn't get what they want yet." After Daly volunteered to reporters that the league lost an estimated $100M from the cancelled preseason, Fehr said the NHL "should look in the mirror." No further negotiations have been scheduled, but there is a possibility the sides will meet later in the week in Toronto (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal). ESPN N.Y.'s Katie Strang noted the league and the union "are still staying away from the core economic issues." They are "not currently discussing the division of shares of hockey-related revenue and appear to be at odds about what the current definition even encompasses." Fehr said that he has "been in regular communication" with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and that he "planned to remain in touch." Fehr "sounded optimistic that talks would resume soon, possibly later this week." However, it remains to be seen "whether that can lead to some substantive dialogue" (ESPNNY.com, 10/2). Fehr said, "It's clear that the players have made substantial moves toward the owners and the owners have made substantial moves away from the players." He added that he and Bettman "had briefly discussed the prospect of bringing in a mediator to help advance the negotiations" (NYTIMES.com, 10/2).
EVERYBODY TALKS: Wild C Kyle Brodziak said, "Right now, it's tough to see (an agreement). Obviously, somebody is going to have to give in at some point for something to work. As a union, all you can really do is stay together and have your faith in the guys that are leading us" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/3). CBSSPORTS.com's Adam Gretz wrote it "does seem hard to take the NHL's stance that the NHLPA has to concede when they are asking for massive reductions across the board." If the league "reduces its share of the hockey-related revenue pie in an offer, it's not conceding anything." It is "just not trying to take as much from the players" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/2). NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr said, "There did seem to be a little bit of unhappiness on the owners' side of the table about, 'Why aren't we hurrying a little bit more?' To which our response is more or less: 'You're the ones who rushed into the lockout'" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/3). Canucks D Kevin Bieksa said, "I don't know how much they value October and November of the season" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/3).
DOWN TO THE DOLLARS: In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch cites a source as saying that of the almost $100M the NHL has suffered in losses with the cancellation of the preseason, he "believes more than $20-million of that pain is being felt by the Canadian clubs." The source estimated that the Maple Leafs and Canucks "are suffering the largest losses" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/3).
FRUSTRATED INCORPORATED: Oilers C Eric Belanger said, "If the owners say they were going to make $100 million in the pre-season games and yet they say they’re ‘losing money,’ that’s a problem right there. Don’t lock us out then." He added, "It’s so frustrating. They’re saying this, we’re saying that. It’s funny to hear Daly talk and say ‘they’ (players) don’t want to talk, they don’t want to talk. It’s always our fault" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/2).
REVENUE SHARING IMPORTANT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek notes revenues "may have risen steadily under the last CBA, but it doesn’t change the fact that half the teams in the league are operating in the red." The Coyotes are a "well-publicized black hole, but there are other teams operating in the lower 49 that would be sunk without the $3- to $8-million in annual revenue-sharing subsidies that they received under the old agreement." It would have been "far better off if Bettman had been more open about the warts in the business in the 12-to-24 months leading up to the lockout, rather than constantly glossing over the problem areas" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/3). Meanwhile, Devils G Johan Hedberg said, "If (the owners) get everything they're asking for, I don't believe the NHL will survive as the best league in the world. I know guys who are saying they won't come back if the NHL doesn't honor the contracts that teams have signed" (N.Y. POST, 10/3).
FANS GROWING IMPATIENT: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote it is "Groundhog Day in the NHL, and the biggest losers are the fans, who once again are being held hostage by an all-too-familiar script." But the "reaction from fans this time around seems more visceral." The number of fans in the past week "saying they were going to cancel their season tickets cannot be ignored" (ESPN.com, 10/2). In Denver, Adrian Dater wrote, "If I was an NHL season-ticket holder, this would be my tipping point -- a third lockout in the last 18 years." Dater: "I would lock out the NHL from my consciousness permanently in return." What is the "saying for what comes after 'fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me?'" What about the "third time when the same group of people try to fool the fans again?" (DENVERPOST.com, 10/2).
American Basketball League Founder & CEO Steve Haney believes that minor league basketball "can not only survive but thrive -- if it doesn't follow the model of leagues such as the CBA, USBL, or new ABA," according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Set to begin play Jan. 19, Haney's league features "the Tropics Conference, with six teams in Florida, and the Lone Star Conference, with six teams in Texas." The ABL will play a 24-game schedule that "concludes with a Final Four-type tournament for the top two teams in each division." What differentiates the ABL from other leagues "are two major things: It will play by FIBA International rules, and it will serve as a feeder league for European leagues, not the NBA or NBADL." The league will "attempt to flourish by playing in smaller arenas, reducing travel costs ... and giving fans a modified product with the international rules." Haney said, "There's been over 200 franchises that have folded in the last 10 years in minor league basketball in America, and a lot of it has to do with a flawed business model that these other leagues have created." He added, "You can't have a team from Idaho and send it on an airplane with a whole staff of people thousands of miles away to play a minor league game in front of 500 people. It's not going to work. That's why the D-League is losing money and that's why these other leagues have failed." Haney said that the ABL "will not inhibit players' ability to jump to a European team with a buyout clause, as the NBA does with its D-League players." The ABL has scheduled a meeting with NBA officials "to discuss the league's potential impact on the NBADL." Washburn wrote Haney's plan "appears to be gaining momentum" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30).