SBD/November 20, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Lockout, Day 66: League Requests To See Complete Proposal From Union

Negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA resumed last night at the league office, but "were over in less than two hours," according to Ira Podell of the AP. There "wasn’t any visible anger between the sides when talks wrapped up for the night, and both camps spoke optimistically that discussions would continue soon, perhaps face-to-face again as soon as" today. There was "not a whole lot" accomplished, but NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, "We talked about various things. No new proposals were made, they were not expected to be made. We had hoped to engage them in a discussion about the player contracting issues that are so important to the players. At least tonight they were unwilling to do that." The league "contends that it is waiting for the players to present a full proposal on all the major issues -- including core economics and player contracting." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "We’ve never heard a full proposal from them." Union reps, along with "18 players who were in attendance, returned to the players’ association office to have further internal discussions Monday night" (AP, 11/20).

MAKING THE NEXT MOVE: The CP's Chris Johnston noted the league "requested that the union put all of its desires together into one complete offer." The union's response "should dictate if the sides will formally start negotiating their way through the key issues" (CP, 11/19). Daly said that he "demanded the NHLPA to put a full proposal on the table." He added that the union "needs to clarify the way it wants to split the revenues." Daly last night said, "I'm frustrated" (OTTAWA SUN, 11/20). In N.Y., Pat Leonard writes, "So assuming the union returns with a full document, the next few meetings should confirm prior to the holiday whether December's hockey schedule is out the window or the owners see a deal in the details" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/20). In Columbus, Aaron Portzline cited a source as saying that the All-Star Game -- scheduled for Nationwide Arena on Jan. 27 -- "will be included when the league cancels its next wave of games" (DISPATCH.com, 11/19).

OUTLINING A PLAN
: In Philadelphia, Frank Seravalli notes the NHLPA requested Monday's meeting, but it "did not present a concrete, new proposal to give the league's policy makers anything to even think about." Without anything new "to discuss, it must have been an awkward 90-minute meeting." Seravalli: "My question is: What the heck does the NHLPA have to lose by making a full presentation?" For the last week, the "biggest complaint out of NHL headquarters is that the league doesn't know what exactly will please Fehr and the players." All it knows is "that the NHLPA wants to protect the players as much as possible." However, Daly did "acknowledge that Fehr presented a 'piece of paper,' which outlined the NHLPA's proposal for how to handle frontloaded contracts on the salary cap" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 11/20). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes, "If anything is to develop from the latest attempt to end the NHL lockout, movement will have to come from the owners on economics and the players on contracts" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20). In N.Y., Larry Brooks notes it is "believed the union is contemplating a plan under which it would offer a 'soft landing' decline to the NHL’s Magic 50-50 in Year 3 or 4 of the new CBA." Based on projections of annual 5% growth, the players "calculated their take under the last union proposal would have hit 50-50 by the fourth year of a new agreement." However, the league has "taken the stance that growth projections are not based in reality, given the unknown fallout of the lockout" (N.Y. POST, 11/20). Canucks G Cory Schneider yesterday said, "To us, we need to stop this cycle of them not giving up anything to get everything they want" (THEPROVINCE.com, 11/20).

NEW NAMES AT THE TABLE: In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch notes those in attendance yesterday alongside NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman were Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis, Flames Owner Murray Edwards, Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs and Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke (OTTAWA SUN, 11/20). In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes it was "a different crew at the bargaining table" yesterday. Adding "fresh perspectives might be a good idea given the bad blood that's been boiling as the lockout continues" (TORONTO STAR, 11/20). The L.A. Times' Helene Elliott wrote, "Did the NHL bring Brian Burke into the negotiations for truculence?" TSN's Darren Dreger wrote, "Leafs GM, Brian Burke will join the CBA talks tonight in New York. Maybe a dose of pugnacity or truculence will spark progress?" Maple Leafs blogger Michael Forbes wrote, "So Brian Burke is on the NHL negotiating committee tonight. If I'm the NHLPA, I send in a negotiating team of nothing but goalies." (TWITTER.com, 11/19). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes there would be "some merit to inviting the likes" of Bruins President Cam Neely and NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan to the table "on the grounds that both previously endured a lockout from the players' side of the fence." Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, who was "involved in a nasty contract holdout soon after the 1994-95 lockout ended, was scheduled to attend Monday's resumption of talks." Duhatschek: "Could a full ex-player team of negotiators lend any weight to the NHL's case and help get some of the soaring and unproductive vitriol out of the conversation?" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20).

PHILLY CONNECTION: While both Bettman and Flyers Chair Ed Snider disputed a report of a rift among owners, the GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle questions that by writing "there's very little reason for the Flyers to be on-board with what's left of this fight." Why would Snider, whose franchise "is one of the richest in the league and has inked more of those front-loaded, back-driving deals than anyone, want to extend this fight over the relatively limited contracting rights that remain at issue?" The longer CBA talks go, the "more the NHLPA pushes for additional revenue sharing from the wealthier teams and the more the Flyers would lose their advantages over other markets in terms of front-loading deals." Mirtle: "My sense is this ends with some form of a contract term limit, as I don't see the NHLPA conceding on the other issues" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20).

MORE AND MORE PERSONAL FOR PLAYERS: Canadiens players practicing in Montreal have "begun wearing baseball caps that have 'Puck Gary' and '2012-13 NHL Lockout' printed on the front." The hats "are not endorsed by" the NHLPA. Canadiens LW Erik Cole said the lockout hats "might be available to the public, all proceeds to charity" (QMI AGENCY, 11/20). Meanwhile, Panthers RW Kris Versteeg yesterday said once the lockout is over, it “will be a good time” to remove Bettman and Daly from office. Appearing on TSN Radio, Versteeg said once a deal is reached, “you’ve got to cut out the cancers.” Versteeg added the pair has been “ruling this game for far too long” and fans have been “left with too many bad tastes in their mouths for too many years” (“Blue Lunch with Bryan Hayes & Jamie McLennan,” TSN Radio, 11/19). Daly "brushed aside the comments and chalked them up to aggravation that is being felt on both sides of the lockout." He said, "I don't think either Gary or I take those personally. I understand there is a lot of frustration in this process" (AP, 11/20).

WILL FANS COME BACK? Laval Univ. Sports Marketing & Strategic Brand Management professor Andre Richelieu criticized the league's steps during the lockout by saying, "The message the NHL has sent is that 'we are stupid.'" He added, "When they say 'We have the best fans in the world' the presumption is that the fans will come back. That is the best example of insult and marketing myopia I know." Richelieu: "It will be interesting to see what the NHL will do in order to rebuild this trust. I don't think they can reinvent the game again. Remember last time they just wrote on the ice, 'Thank you, fans'? Well, that will not do" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20).
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