The Counterproposal, Part 3: Dead

You’ve probably heard: the Players basically walked out of negotiations with the Owners on Friday. Wonderful.

Donald Fehr had this to say as regards the “Player’s decision” to walk away from the negotiations on Friday:

“The response that was made to us is that if the players are not prepared to agree to an immediate reset in their aggregate salary levels, that is to say, as we understand it, a meaningful, absolute reduction in the players’ share in dollar terms for next year as compared to last year, that they [the Owners] see no point in discussing or responding to the proposals that we put forward at the meeting today.”

What it means is that the Owners won’t seriously consider anything the Players say unless the Players agree to a greatly reduced salary cap. I hate to say that I was right, but I did say that the PA was really going to need to consider the Owners’ projected salary cap figure of $58 million. This seems like the last straw in negotiations, at least before the September 15 lockout date. That sucks. I don’t know what else to say.

A lot of people have been advocating, and I think correctly, not to blindly kick and scream about what GARY BETTMAN is trying to do to the league, that might be fair, he is literally only the mouthpiece of the Owners, but here’s what he had to say:

“What I thought was starting as a promising week after we made our substantial counterproposal on Tuesday ends, I guess you can say, in disappointment.”

No doubt that Bettman is paid millions to take the brunt of fan discontent so that the Owners don’t have to, and his official position in these negotiations has been nothing but what the Owners have made him say. Despite that, you have to admit that he loves playing that villain role and that’s exactly what the above comment proves. Unlike the players, PA reps, officials, coaches, arena workers, and others—Bettman still gets paid whether the NHL is playing games or not. He could have said, “Well unfortunately, our sides are still very far apart, but we’re going to keep working,” instead he’s expressing some smug level of satisfaction with the state of things and I’m pretty sure that’s his own words, not something that the Owners asked him to say.

So where does this leave us? Well I don’t know. Two weeks til September 15, that ought to be plenty of time if the two sides are willing to work together, but right now that’s the biggest issue. You almost get the sense that the PA needs more from the fans—we need to absolutely stop supporting the owners—no merchandise purchases, don’t buy any tickets, and be as annoying as hell on social media outlets. The problem is that these things won’t really start to matter until after September 15. John Buccigross had a strong stream of consciousness the other day about how the advent of instant gratification and the rise of social media will prevent the Owners from truly carrying out a long lockout, because they won’t be able to escape the ire of the fans. The key is that the fans need to deliver on that promise.

 

Some other actual hockey news:

  • The Pens signed Eric Tangradi, Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo, and Alex Grant to one year, two-way deals. Tangradi will get $726,000, Strait $605,000, and the other two at the league minimum $525,000.
    • This is weird because I could have sworn that Strait already signed a new deal at the early part of the offseason. Either way, I’m really glad that he signed a 2-way deal, this way he can be the first call-up from WBS without fear that he’ll get claimed off of waivers if his services should no longer be needed at the NHL level.
    • Tangradi’s contract is clearly a “show-me” contract, you don’t pay an unproven 23-year old that much to play sparingly and on the 4th line. I won’t bore you with more “Tangradi Potential” puns, but he’s been called the “Future Winger for Sid” for 4 years, in a (hopeful) season where the Pens likely won’t be able to buy a serious winger upgrade at the deadline, this is do or die.
    • Bortuzzo has made a few starts in the NHL and I felt that he looked just as good as Despres or Strait who are ahead of him on the depth chart.
    • Grant has been highly touted in the past but I think he’s had a lot of injuries, but again I’m not going to complain about a lot of young, competent defensemen in the system.
  • The Oilers have thrown their hat into the race to sign all of their young players before September 15: they’ve come to terms with both Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, Eberle got 6-years, $6 million, Hall gets 7-years, $6 million per. A lot of people are getting super worked up about teams who continue to sign guys to long contracts while the Owners as a whole want to limit contract lengths. The fact of the matter is that if this was next year and Malkin and Letang were eligible for new contracts the Pens would have locked them up for life, but we’re still a year away from that. Further, who knows if contract lengths are going to get limited—as I said last time, if the Players can concede on the salary cap, I really feel like they can get a lot of other things they want.
  • Speaking of Geno, Mike wrote a solid piece about him that challenges if he would come back to Pittsburgh in the event of a long-term lockout. It’s well-reasoned but we don’t have anything to fear honestly. He loves Pittsburgh, he’s said time and again that he wants to play in Pittsburgh, play in the NHL, and he did happen to sneak himself out of Russia illegally in order to make that happen. Further, with another season similar to this past year, Geno will be in excellent shape to become the NHL’s first $10 million man, he’ll be back.
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