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SBD/October 23, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
The NHL and the NHLPA "stood their ground Monday and there are no formal talks planned to discuss a collective bargaining agreement," according to Bruce Garrioch of the OTTAWA SUN. The two sides "face a Thursday deadline to get a deal in place, open camps Saturday and start the season Nov. 2." Some in the media are "speculating bargaining could resume" tomorrow in N.Y. But NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail said that the league is "willing to negotiate only on the offer it made the union last Tuesday." League sources said that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "won't be allowed to offer up any more concessions to try to get a deal and, in fact, he has gone further than some owners expected." There is "concern in league circles the NHL won't be able to do anything" to satisfy NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, and if Bettman "continues to negotiate he is doing so against himself despite tremendous pressure to play." Sources said that if there is no deal in place by Thursday, "it's possible as much as a month of the schedule will be chopped Friday because the NHL wants to free up arena dates." Sources said that some "renegade owners would support cancelling the whole season if nothing is done soon, but Bettman isn't about to do that because he feels there is a strong chance of a labour agreement" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/23). Meanwhile, ESPN N.Y.'s Katie Strang cited a source as saying that talks "are likely to resume at some point this week" (ESPNNY.com, 10/22).
CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR: In New Jersey, Andrew Gross writes what "can't be discounted" during the NHL labor dispute is a "growing clash of egos" between Bettman and Fehr. The two "seem to have more mutual respect than marked Bettman's relationship" with former NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow during the '04-05 lockout. But the "disintegration of last week's promise spoke to the attitudes of the leaders." When the NHLPA "came back with three counter-proposals to the NHL's initial 50-50 proposal, Bettman acted like a petulant child." He reportedly "dismissed the union's proposals within 15 minutes." But a "smug Fehr used his Thursday press conference as a bully pulpit, lecturing the owners on the history of past negotiations." In doing so, he "came across as just and inflexible as Bettman" (Bergen RECORD, 10/23). Bruins C David Krejci said, "We want to play, we're the ones who are doing the show in the NHL, but Bettman thinks (it's him). It is unfortunate that the NHL has such a guy. It's a shame for the entire hockey world. (He) treats us like animals" (ESPNNY.com, 10/22). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote the "bile directed towards Gary Bettman is ridiculous and misplaced." Cox: "But I will say this. His No. 1 priority every season should be to get the season started on time, every time. He has failed" (THESTAR.com, 10/22).
HURRY UP & WAIT: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote there "seems to be this sense of urgency to get an 82-game season jammed into the remaining time -- both so the players can collect their entire salaries and the owners can recoup their loss of pre-season revenues -- and it’s exactly this kind of climate during which the owners have been willing to abandon their principles." What the league "has to do is grow some and hold out for the deal it needs." It should "not be concerned with saving the season." Campbell: "Do not cave to the segment of fans whose only answer to this lockout is to lock the owners and players into a room until a deal is done, or just get a deal done already because we don’t care about these issues. Just bloody well get it right this time" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 10/22). Meanwhile, the GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes, "One gets the feeling that if someone could grab each side by the scruff of the neck and sit them at a table with no chance of leaving for at least 12 hours, the lockout could end" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/23).
EUROPEAN VACATION: Panthers RW George Parros said that the union "remains solid despite the distance between members." Parros: "I think we're strong as ever. Just because guys have gone over to play in Europe, I don't see that as weakness at all" (LATIMES.com, 10/22). Meanwhile, Predators LW Sergei Kostitsyn said that he "hopes the lockout will lead to the cancellation of the entire season." Kostitsyn yesterday said to Russian daily Sport-Express, "Let's put it this way -- it would be better (for the players) if the lockout continues. Players want a definite answer. If the NHL season is lost -- let it be that way. I would then play in Russia for the whole season" (REUTERS, 10/22). SI.com's Stu Hackel noted attendance is "apparently booming in the KHL with the arrival of so many locked out NHL players." As the "impasse continues, another wave of players signing contracts with European clubs seems possible" (SI.com, 10/22).
It has been a “frenetic phase as the WTA continues its thus-far unsuccessful search for a lead global partner to replace Sony Digital, expands its tournament lineup in Asia and South America and launches a formal bid process to choose the next site of the WTA Championships,” according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. Istanbul’s three-year run as host city for the Championships is set to end next year, and the city “does not plan to renew.” WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster “expects the final pool of candidates for the 2014 season and beyond to come from Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.” She "hopes to announce the winner early next year, wants a five-year deal and plans to expand the year-end tournament into a seven-day event with three to four more days of prologue.” Allaster in a Q&A last week discussed the Championships and other issues facing the WTA. Below are excerpts from the Q&A:
Q: How important is the WTA Championships to your tour?
Allaster: This represents 40 percent of our net operating revenues. It is more important to our operating budget than the sponsorship. So it’s mission critical and obviously it’s also our largest marketing platform and that’s key in the sponsorship equation as well.
Q: With your longer offseason for recovery, you have more freedom than the men seem to have in terms of the location of your tour championships. What’s your preference?
Allaster: There’s no doubt if the finances are there and the facilities are there and the operator and government support -- and it’s got to be government backed -- but if all of those factors are ticked, it sure would be nice to go to a market where you don’t have WTA tennis.
Q: What about your sponsorship situation?
Allaster: I remain optimistic that we will announce a minimum of one, maybe two, regional partnerships for 2013. … There are still a couple active conversations on 2013 for the lead global partner, but I think as we are getting closer to really companies making their marketing decisions it’s a high hurdle for 2013.
Q: You’ve been involved in this arena for a long time now. How frustrating is this on a personal level? And does it reflect wider market difficulties or some of the challenges women’s sports are facing in general in sports like soccer?
Allaster: I do think that combined with the world economy, the Olympic Games and euro definitely sort of sidelined conversations we might have otherwise had with some brands because they are preoccupied (N.Y. TIMES, 10/22).
MONEY TALKS: In London, Neil Harman notes the leading eight players in the women’s game “met officials of the four grand-slam tournaments to hear what they can expect from next year’s windfalls.” Tennis Australia is “proposing a payout of AU$28,000 to those who do not survive a single round” at the Australian Open. Tennis player Maria Sharapova before the presentations began said, “I don’t know if I agree with a raise for a first-round loss. I think that compensation as you win more rounds is right, but I’m not sure about the first rounds.” Harmon writes there has been “underlying controversy at the heart of the continuing hike in grand-slam prize money because several male players are indignant that the WTA Tour has ridden on the coat-tails of the ATP Tour in the debate for a greater share.” Sharapova, when asked if she would have taken a call from ATP Player Council President Roger Federer to discuss a combined strategy, said, “If he wanted to, I would absolutely. Why not? At the end of the day we’re all tennis players, we all have the same agenda and we all want to be compensated for what we do” (LONDON TIMES, 10/23).
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last night repeated his threat that the league "will consider dropping the Pro Bowl if the level of play doesn't improve," according to the AP. Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio's “Town Hall,” Goodell “agreed with host Michael Strahan that last January's Pro Bowl ‘was embarrassing.’” Goodell said that the league still would “select a Pro Bowl team through voting by players, coaches and fans, because it is an honor.” However, he said the NFL would “just not play the game.” Goodell in April made similar comments concerning the future of the game. Meanwhile, the league is “working on scheduling more East Coast games involving West Coast teams in late-afternoon slots to avoid what amounts to a 10 a.m. kickoff for the western teams.” Goodell said, “Several of our teams on the West Coast have raised that and we have been studying it. We have tried to put as many of those games on the East Coast at 4 p.m. You can imagine the thousands of different issues you have to put into the schedule. But the 10 o'clock starts are pretty tough.” Goodell last night also “praised teams for making it possible for fans to text concerns about unruly behavior to stadium security.” Additionally, he said that three regular-season games abroad "is not out of the realm of possibility" (AP, 10/22).