SBD/October 11, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Lockout, Day 26: NHLPA Reportedly Working On A New Proposal For The League

After two sessions of CBA talks yesterday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the league "has received indication that the NHL Players' Association is putting together a proposal, and the NHL is urging the union to make it," according to Katie Strang of ESPN N.Y. Daly said that "a 'variety of sources' both privately and publicly tipped off the league that the union was working toward putting forth a new offer." Strang wrote the NHL has been "imploring the union to submit something new for weeks and hopes the possibility might jumpstart a negotiation process that has become stagnant." Sources said that the NHLPA also is "encouraging the league to make moves of its own." Strang wrote even if the league's next proposal "doesn't include significant movement on economic issues, it is believed the union would like to see some concessions made in other areas, such as the contracting issues." Daly said that "little progress was made" in a small, private session with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr prior to yesterday afternoon's larger group session (ESPNNY.com, 10/10). CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty noted the two sides today are "supposed to engage in a full day of talks," but "once again they won't be hitting on the 'core economic issues' of the lockout." Instead, they will "continue discussing things like player safety, ice surfaces, and which side is responsible for picking up the tab for additional trainers placed on each team's medical staff." Sources said that the NHL has "essentially said there's no reason to speak about core economic issues until the players are ready to absorb pay cuts for next season" (CSNNE.com, 10/10). In Philadelphia, Sam Carchidi wrote, "This is how embarrassing things have gotten for the NHL and the NHL Players Association: They couldn't even agree on what the labor talks were about on Wednesday" (PHILLY.com, 10/10).

FINDING THE ROAD TO RESOLUTION: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote, "My belief is that in order for the NHL to get that new proposal from the NHLPA that it is so craving, the league is going to have to show compromises as well, specifically in the area of individual player contracts." The league has "never officially taken off the table its list of desired changes to player contracts from its initial proposal, such as extending the entry-level contract system from three years to five years, the elimination of salary arbitration, moving the eligibility age for unrestricted free agency to 10 years of NHL service and the crackdown on back-diving contracts (front-loaded cheat deals)." LeBrun: "However, I do believe that if the league is willing to officially drop some of the other systemic changes it proposes in player contracts, it might help NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr go to his constituency and gauge the level of interest in submitting a new offer to the league that also shows more compromise, obviously in the area of the players’ share from hockey-related revenue" (ESPN.com, 10/10). Sharks LW Ryane Clowe said, "Players are on the same page. No one's cracking. We're informed and updated and guys have a good understanding of what's going on." Clowe also said that he "found it 'astonishing' the way in which owners have respected the gag order imposed" by Bettman during the lockout. Clowe: "I'm sure there are owners that want to be playing now and probably like our last proposal. Obviously Gary has done a good job keeping the reins tight. But I can't believe how the owners are kept on the back burner like that" (ESPN.com, 10/10).

WHAT'S AT STAKE: Daly estimated that "at least $230 million of revenue has been lost due to the canceled games and the wiping out of the entire preseason." Daly: "Obviously we lost about $90 million with losing the preseason. I would say with the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season, we’re probably in jeopardy of losing about another $140 million." In California, Eric Stephens noted the "lack of operating costs by teams will negate some of those losses," but the "longer the arenas remain dark, the more potential revenue disappears and the more fans get used to life without NHL hockey" (OCREGISTER.com, 10/10). In N.Y., Klein & Belson write, "Ultimately what the NHL is sacrificing in this latest lockout cannot be measured solely in attendance or revenue figures." Bettman and the owners are "risking the momentum they have built." The last five Stanley Cup winners came from L.A., Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit, "all big American markets." The NHL has a "lucrative TV contract" in the U.S., a 10-year, $2B deal it "signed with NBC last year." Former Rangers GM Neil Smith said, "They've really grown the last few years. But with this lockout, they're going to lose momentum, no matter what." Klein & Belson write, "Sooner or later, the league will find out what opportunity may have been lost" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/11).

MOTION DENIED: In L.A., Helene Elliott noted the Alberta Labour Relations Board "dismissed an application" by the NHLPA to declare the lockout illegal in Alberta and allow the Oilers and Flames to "conduct training camp and other business as usual." The board noted that the NHL and the players’ union "had, at various times, argued a position opposed to its current stance." Board Chair Mark Asbell said that the board "had many reasons to exercise its discretion and not make a declaration of unlawful conduct and not to issue any remedy for several reasons" (LATIMES.com, 10/10). ESPN.com's Scott Burnside asked, "What, exactly, was the point of the labor board exercise?" Had the NHLPA been successful, two of the NHL's 30 teams "would have had to pay their players the salaries due this season and the players could have gone about their business using team facilities, etc." Oilers and Flames players "would have been happy, although one wonders how their brethren on the 28 other teams, who will start missing paychecks in a matter of days, would have felt" (ESPN.com, 10/10).

IN THE MEAN TIME...: In N.Y., Mark Everson writes, "Fears remain that malicious play could occur, prompted by resentments that the NHLers are displacing -- and only temporarily -- locals on European rosters." Those concerns also give NHL owners "reason to worry about their locked-out overseas players, fearful that injuries might leave them without their stars when the NHL finally resumes play" (N.Y. POST, 10/11)....In Vancouver, Elliott Pap notes tickets for the Oct. 17 Bieksa's Buddies charity game at the Univ. of British Columbia “carry a face value of $20 before service charges,” but they were being advertised yesterday on Craigslist for "anywhere from $60 to $75.” Canucks D and game organizer Kevin Bieksa said, "I don't see why guys are selling tickets for three, four, five times as much when it's priced low to give fans a cheap opportunity to see players play during the lockout.” Canucks LW Daniel Sedin said, "It's embarrassing" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/11).
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