NHL Lockout, Day 11: League, NHLPA Will Meet Friday To Discuss "Non-Core Economic Issues"
NHL execs and NHLPA reps, who "haven't sat down for a full bargaining session in two weeks, are scheduled to meet Friday in New York to discuss what is being called 'non-core economic issues,'" according to Helene Elliot of the L.A. TIMES. The two sides are "still unable to resolve the central dispute over the division of hockey-related revenues but will try to nibble around the edges and gain some traction on other issues." Those issues are "expected to include pensions, medical plans, drug testing, scheduling ... and the grievance process." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that specific issues "will include grievance arbitration, system arbitration, off-ice discipline, drug testing, ice conditions and workers compensation insurance." It also is "likely that the NHL will cancel another round of exhibition games before the two sides meet" (LATIMES.com, 9/25). The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes, "You can’t really separate the various negotiating points from one another into separate boxes and say 'let’s talk about the economic issues and nothing else until that’s solved.'" Everything is "tied together in this fight." If the players "give on the percentages, shouldn’t that then mean they get some sort of concession on another issue?" The two sides are "not going to get any closer to solving some of those issues by ignoring them for months on end" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/26). Flyers RW Danny Briere yesterday said of previous reports that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will cancel the Winter Classic, "Maybe if he spent less time worrying about who has the upper hand and maybe more time negotiating with the players, maybe more things would get done." He added, "Until there are more owners involved, I don't think it will get anywhere" (PHILLY.com, 9/25).
AT LEAST ONE PAY DAY COMING: USA TODAY's Allen & Brehm note NHLers "will have cash flow in October because the league will return most, if not all, of each player's escrow payments from last season." Players had 8.5% of their salaries "withheld last season in case players earned more than their allotted 57% of revenue." The refund "could arrive around the time that players miss their first paycheck." A player making $1M "will lose about $77,000 per paycheck, starting in the middle of October" (USA TODAY, 9/26).
FRANCHISE UPDATES: In St. Louis, Tim Logan reported Blues COO Bruce Affleck yesterday confirmed that the team "last week laid off 'just under 20' front-office workers." The remaining 75 employees "took pay cuts, and in some cases, switched to four-day work weeks." Affleck said that some of the laid-off workers "will likely be brought back if and when hockey season begins ... though some layoffs will be permanent, a decision of the team's new owners." He said that the layoffs were "across a variety of departments in the team and Scottrade Center" (STLTODAY.com, 9/25). Meanwhile, in Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis noted the Panthers in a letter to season-ticket holders outlined "three choices" for their lockout policy that are "clearly designed to discourage fans from asking for refunds." Those who "want their money refunded must wait for it until the NHL announces cancelation of the entire season." Those who "ask for money back for games that aren't played forfeit their advantages as recurring season-ticket holders." It is "being regarded as a slap in the face by an organization that has a knack for awkward customer relations" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 9/25).
EVENTS SCHEDULED TO GO ON: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside noted a "5-on-5 event, dubbed La Tournée des Joueurs or The Players' Tour, will begin Thursday in the Montreal suburb of Chateauguay and is the brainchild of" Flyers C Max Talbot and D Bruno Gervais, both of whom "are from the area." Talbot "estimates about 1,300 fans will pay $20 each to attend the game." Plans call for "future games to be held in larger facilities, likely major junior rinks, all across Quebec" (ESPN.com, 9/25). In Raleigh, Chip Alexander noted the Hurricanes' 13th annual Caniac Carnival "will be held Sunday at PNC Arena." However, unlike other years, Hurricanes players "will not be signing autographs this year because of the NHL lockout and postponement of training camp" (NEWSOBSERVER.com, 9/25).
LEAVING ON A JET PLANE: The Russian Major Hockey League, a "farm league for KHL clubs," yesterday announced that Capitals LW Alexander Semin "agreed on a contract to play for Sokol, a team based in his home town." YAHOO SPORTS' Dmitry Chesnokov noted Semin will "play for the club virtually for free," and team sponsors "will pay premiums to insure Semin's NHL contract" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/25). In DC, Katie Carrera noted Capitals C Brooks Laich has "agreed to join" the Swiss National League A's Kloten Flyers. Laich's agent, Roland Thompson, said that a contract "has not yet been finalized but that one should be completed by the end of the week." He said that Laich "left for Switzerland on Monday night" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/25). Hockey player agent Peter Wallen said that his client, Lightning D Victor Hedman, "signed a contract with" the KHL team Barys Astana and "will report Friday" (TAMPABAY.com, 9/25). In Ft. Lauderdale, Harvey Fialkov noted unsigned Panthers D Dmitry Kulikov "has signed to play with Russia's elite team -- Yaroslavl Lokomotiv." In addition, Panthers LW Sean Bergenheim "left for his homeland in Finland to play for HIMK for the SM-Liiga league" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 9/25). In Boston, Stephen Harris writes under the header, "European Leagues Are Quality Options" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/26).