NHL Feels First Effects Of Labor Uncertainty, Cancels Prospects Tournament
The first effects of NHL labor uncertainty were felt Thursday when the Red Wings cancelled the annual prospects tournament scheduled to be held in Traverse City, Mich. Eight NHL clubs were scheduled to participate in the tournament in early September: the Red Wings, Sabres, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, Stars, Wild, Rangers and Blues. Red Wings GM Ken Holland said the tournament was cancelled "due to the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement and the advance commitments required from the various parties, including hotels, airlines, teams, players and their families." Holland said all eight teams are committed to having the tournament in Sept., 2013 (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).
MONEY MATTERS: The CP's Chris Johnston noted players are "still upset the owners quickly dismissed their initial proposal this week." Canadiens D Chris Campoli said, "The industry's grown a billion dollars since (the lockout) and basically they just want more money. I thought in our proposal we made a step and considerable concession to them." Campoli was one of three NHLers "who took part in Thursday's sub-committee meetings, which covered secondary issues not related to the economic ones that have divided the sides" (CP, 8/16). In N.Y., Jeff Klein wrote NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners "may be coming off as the villains in the eyes of the public in the NHL labor negotiations, but that won't matter to them one bit." Not while they "have the chance to save hundreds of millions of dollars each year." From the start of these talks there "has been no mystery about what Bettman and the owners are after." They "want a deal similar to the one the NFL and NBA owners got" (NYTIMES.com, 8/16). In Minneapolis, Michael Russo wrote a hard cap "remains in the union's counterproposal, but that's about the only thing the league likes." The NHL will "definitely not go with an agreement that reverts back to the current collective bargaining agreement in four years" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 8/16).
WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR? In Toronto, Damien Cox writes it is "all looking depressingly familiar." The league "wants the debate to be about the size of the players' take, while the union would prefer the focus to be the way in which NHL clubs share revenues" (TORONTO STAR, 8/17). The CP's Johnston asks, "Where do they go from here?" There is "very little common ground between the proposals each side has put forth and neither seems particularly willing to move off its current position." The "first signs of animosity are beginning to surface" (CP, 8/16). In St. Louis, Jeff Gordon writes, "No matter what new protections the owners gain in the new collective bargaining agreement, you can bet it won’t take them long to circumvent those protections and resume overspending on players." An "underlying cause of the NHL’s instability is Bettman’s wrong-headed commitment to Sun Belt hockey." It was "worth a try, I suppose, but it largely failed" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/17). SPORTSNET's Michael Grange wrote, "Here we go -- how to end CBA negotiations forever in five easy steps. Gary Bettman and Don Fehr "have been cc'ed." Grange lists the following: 1. "Just get to a 50-50 revenue split and be done with it." 2. "Contract two teams; move two others to Canada." 3. "Limit player contracts to four years." 4. "Meaningful revenue sharing, Part I." 5. "Meaningful revenue sharing, Part II" (SPORTSNET.ca, 8/16).
NOT AS BAD, BUT...: CSNBAYAREA.com’s Kevin Kurz said, “It's very likely there will be a lockout in some way, shape or form” in the NHL but “it's not nearly as severe as it was eight years ago.” Kurz said “It’s still going to boil down to percentages right now. Once they get that figured out, I think the other stuff will come along. But right now, they're not very close and NHL fans should be worried" (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 8/16).”
EUROPEAN VACATION: In Toronto, Terry Koshan writes the "idea that players will pack their bags and head for Europe in the event of a lockout is not so cut and dried." The "respective European leagues haven't issued notice that they will loosen their import restrictions and, overall, they might not have an appetite to do so should NHL players come knocking." European clubs "wouldn't be amenable to the idea that players up and leave when a potential NHL work stoppage ends" (TORONTO SUN, 8/17).