Don Fehr’s Letter to the Players’

Found this courtesy of Pierre Lebrun from ESPN, this is the actual letter that Don Fehr sent to the PA after their counter-offers were summarily rejected by the Owners on Thursday. Please do read it hear [ESPN]. The numbers are truly staggering.

Essentially, the worst case scenario plan, as outlined in the Players’ proposals will see the Owners save just under $800 million over the next 5 seasons. That’s $26.5 million per team over that stretch of time. Even in the early years of the plan where the savings are less dramatic you’re talking about an extra $2 million per team per season in savings, what should be more than enough to pay arena employees and relieve some of the pressure that small market teams have been feeling. If the league were to continue to grow at its current historical rate of 7.2% you’re looking at well over a BILLION DOLLARS in savings for the Owners over a 5-year period, that’s an extra $10 million per team ($36.6 million per team in savings), and another $2 million per year. And just think, all but like the ten worst attended teams in the league made money this past season.

The second plan, which calls for even faster salary reductions, would save the Owners even more money, a minimum of $854 million over the same stretch of time. If the league were to continue to grow at 7.2% it would actually cost the league a little bit more money because the reductions were so steep, only netting $1.06 billion. I admit that I’m still clueless as to how the third plan actually works, but I think it was merely a radical departure from the previous versions.

Now I personally am not afraid to throw support to the Players, and there’s one really important reason why: they’re the ones I care about. And that’s really hard to say because no matter where Sid and/or Geno finish in the record books, they’ll probably never be more important to the Pens than Mario Lemieux, and they shouldn’t be. He is the Penguins and the Penguins are him. His hockey ability and mere presence brought the team out of bankruptcy in the mid-80s, he won the Cups in the early 90s, and he bought the team in 99 and by 04 had rescued it from bankruptcy yet again. He delivered the Cup in ’09 and secured the franchise’s long-term future in Pittsburgh with the new arena deal. There’s literally nothing that has happened with the Penguins that Mario hasn’t been part of. But I don’t write this blog about him, I write it about the guys on the team now.

And you may be tempted to say “well I’m not picking sides in this because it’s millionaires arguing with billionaires,” but then again who made the player’s into millionaires? Was it their great inventive talent, or was it us fans who have been turning out in record numbers all across the US and Canada in order to watch these guys play? We the fans who have been buying as many jerseys as the league can turn out in a year? We the fans who gripe about ticket and concession prices yet have sold out Lady Mellon and CEC for 5 straight seasons? And that’s why I care about the guys in the sweaters more than the ones in the suits.

And from there you may say, “well it’s about the game, not the players,” but then why is it that when you look at the AHL or the CHL or any other kind of hockey, you always see scores of empty seats, despite smaller arenas and reasonable ticket prices? Why is it that the KHL or the Swedish Elite League or any other league in Europe is unable to pay the contracts that we see in the NHL? There is something unique about the NHL. And it is for that exact reason that unlike in other job markets the players in the NHL do have a say in negotiating their own collective bargaining agreement. They provide unique and irreplaceable skills that make the NHL’s product one of a kind.

So maybe it is true that you and I can’t walk in and talk to our bosses and make demands like the Players have been, but then again, you and I aren’t unique. We’re just cogs of the machine that can easily be replaced. The same can’t be said about the guys in the NHL, so when they come forward with greatly innovative and possibly even more effective strategies than what the Owners themselves seem capable of reasoning, they deserve to be heard.

I’m not about to go out and calculate the difference between the NHL’s proposed 50-50 split and the PA’s plan, but when you talk about the hypocrisy of rich get richer, there will be no shortage of that in the NHL, whatever CBA decision they should reach.


NHLPA Comes Back with a Counter-Proposal, SOB Rears his Ugly Mug

Hey, d’you see what I did there, it says “NO”?!?!

Wow this all really sucks. On Tuesday there was as much excitement about hockey as there has been since the Kings lifted the Cup back in mid-June. Now in the last two days it’s pretty much all been erased again. On Thursday the NHLPA came back with three distinct variations on the proposal that the Owners made, and to quote Sidney Crosby,

When you make three proposals and get shut down in 10 minutes, it’s hard to think the other side really wants to negotiate.

Guess I’m going to go play in Europe now…

The Same-Old-Bettman, or Bitchman (as he’ll probably go down in history) summarily dismissed the PA’s proposals as “a step backwards.” And Bill Daly said that somehow the Players “misrepresented their 50-50 split.” What all of it means is that we’re probably further from seeing actual NHL hockey than any time before this. Links from [THN] and [PHT] to summarize the day’s proceedings.

A bunch more crap after the break. Read the rest of this entry »


NHL Announces a New CBA Proposal, Calls for 50-50 Split

Sorry we’ve been dead to the world over the last two weeks. The good news is that I (Andrew) just finished my last ever set of undergraduate midterms. And to that extent, I know that Mike is really busy being an adult, and also just doesn’t even want to talk about the lockout. I really don’t blame him.

I literally don’t understand this at all? That’s why I picked it?

Anyway the big story of the day is that the Owners have come back with a new CBA proposal, the first actual proposal since before the lockout began. The lockout began more than a month ago. As the title of this post says the league’s new proposal calls for an even 50-50 split. On its surface that sounds really good.

So that’s the good part, but before I say anything else, please read this post from Pensblog: WHY THE NHLPA WILL LIKELY REJECT THIS OFFER & THE LOCKOUT WILL CONTINUE. Did you read it? Did you? Okay this is where the “more” button goes, see more after that. Read the rest of this entry »


Everybody Talks (The Lockout is in its Third Week)

So the PA and the NHL talked from Friday through Sunday basically nonstop. That’s good news. The bad news is that both sides continue to refuse to acknowledge the presence of an enormous white elephant in the room called collective bargaining. If you want to know how secondary these discussions were, neither Bettman nor Donald Fehr could be bothered to be there, instead they were probably out golfing.

Hey, d’you see what I did there, it says “NO”?!?!

Get more stuff by clicking the bolded text.  Read the rest of this entry »


NHL and NHLPA to Have Their First Real Talks Since Lockout Started Tomorrow

This has been out there for a couple of days but apparently Bettman and Daly will be meeting with the Fehr brothers tomorrow [THN]. In a radical and probably much needed departure the two sides do not plan to talk about “core economic issues,” or in other words the things that actually determine how the league is operated, but instead they’ll talk about secondary issues. The fact that I’m eternally optimistic has resulted in my focusing on these lines in particular:

While a significant economic gulf remains this time around, at least one veteran negotiator believes it’s a good sign the NHL and NHLPA are willing to discuss issues such as pensions, grievance procedures and travel in the meantime.

“It means that once they settle the economic issues they want to start playing right away,” said the negotiator, who requested anonymity.

Apparently a lot of luminaries in the hockey reporting industry have been compiling statistics as to which players are going to get money and which aren’t: the conclusion they’ve come up with is that only (or perhaps as many as, depending on your tilt) 15 of the top 50 players will be getting significant paychecks whether the NHL plays a game or not this year. Check it out here [PHT]. I’m sure the original Bob McKenzie analysis blames Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, and Malkin for being Russian as to why they’re the three highest paid players to not get any money from their NHL teams in the lockout.

Also, it isn’t new news but apparently Ovechkin has used some really strong language to suggest that if the NHL cuts back the salary cap too much he might just stay in the KHL [PHT]. I mean as a Pens fan and blogger, I don’t like Ovechkin, but that would be a huge blow to the league. Yes it’s really easy to make fun of the fact that he produced a whopping 65 points last year, but when he’s 50% of the league’s face, you can’t just lose him over petty bourgeois pandering between the Players and the Owners. Further, there’s no reason for the NHL not to believe that some Russian Oil Tycoon wouldn’t pay $15 million a year for Russia’s most famous player assuming he knew that Ovechkin was willing to field permanent KHL offers.

The Edmonton Oilers have opened up a bag of dump when it was revealed that team officials were in Seattle talking about the possibility of relocation [THN]. The Oilers are one of the very few NHL teams that do not have an operating interest in their arena which means they don’t make any money outside of the games themselves. Beyond that, they play in a dumpy, old arena. Apparently the team has been trying to negotiate a new arena deal with the city of Edmonton for more than 4 years already and only have two season left before they are free to do whatever they want to.

The Pacific Northwest, the native home of the Hipster-genus. I wonder why they don’t watch sports up there?

To make matters even better, the day that Oilers brass were in Seattle is the same day that the Seattle City Council approved a new $490 million NBA/NHL arena for the city [TSN]. Funny how that works no? Even better than those though was Edmonton’s mayor getting all bent about it and saying that an NHL team would never be successful in Seattle [TSN]. My two cents on the matter are that Seattle is one of the very few American cities that is deserving of an NHL team, and if they can get a hockey team, and all of the millionaire software developers who live there who are transplants from all over the country learn about it, the team can succeed. But that is a big if, the NBA Sonics moved 4 years ago because despite the general affluence of the people in that area, nobody cared.

Two last links that create some excitement for actual hockey talk:

Dejan Kovacevic had a heart to heart with Sid yesterday [Trib]. Whether you like DK or you find his constant Twitter fighting with every person who dares to call him out on his botched Pirates prediction incredibly annoying, it doesn’t really matter. This is an interview with Sidney Crosby and it just tugs on your heart-strings so bad because it just shows how ready Sid is to destroy the entire NHL this year, if he can get the opportunity.

The Big Dawg

Also, Tangradi, Strait, Bortuzzo, new goalie Jeff Zatkoff, and old goalie Brad Thiessen are off for training camp with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins [Trib]. They all have 2-way deals and will likely rejoin the Big Penguins if they ever get training camp started this year. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, however, the effect that it will have on some of the younger guys kind of sucks, especially on defense: with Strait and Bortuzzo rejoining Wilkes-Barre and Simon Despres already sent down back during the playoffs last year, all three of those guys are going to take spots that could have gone to Brian Dumolin, Phillip Samuelsson and possibly even Joe Morrow, who will instead have to start at the ECHL.

Bad News: the rest of the preseason has been cancelled. That’s sad, but nonetheless the two sides are back to talking tomorrow which is still better than the 3 months it took the two sides to face each other back in 04.


Lockout Thoughts: Don’t Think too Much

Honestly don’t really have anything to say about the NHL and its lockout situation right now. Bill Daly said that he and Steve Fehr will be talking this evening about when the two sides can get together to, well, talk. It may be hollow words and it’s undoubtedly true that the lockout has already begun, but still, compared to 2004 when the two sides couldn’t even look at each other for months after the lockout began, this is a step in the right direction—at least both sides seem willing to talk to one another.

In a bizarre twist, ESPN seems to be the only media source that I’ve checked so far that actually has a continually updating list of NHLers signing with European teams. It seems shocking that there aren’t hundreds of players who have fled overseas yet, but I also don’t doubt that most players are waiting for a variety of offers to come in, and we all know that’s something that cannot be rushed. EDIT:
TSN has one now too, but neither is updated to the bleeding edge and ESPN’s looks better if I’m honest.

There are some unusual lockout solutions coming out of the woodworks:

Now for everyone who wants to say, “What the hell are the players doing, fleeing overseas, playing pick-up games, why aren’t they working on playing real games in the NHL?” Well, frankly it’s out of their hands now. Now that we’re into the lockout it all comes down to Bettman-Daly and Fehr-Fehr, the individual Players aren’t allowed anywhere near the Owners and vice-versa, now it’s time for the representatives to take care of business, it’s as simple as that.

My one piece of actual analysis for the day is this: Sidney Crosby is either going to sign with Magnitogorsk or he’s not signing anywhere. So far, none of Sid’s friends have signed overseas, except for Geno, and I think Sid would relish the opportunity to be Geno’s foil in terms of popularity and role on the team. But there’s a good chance that Sid will elect to stay home and close to the negotiations, I did just say that he can’t get too close, however, his speech from last week is endemic of how involved he wants to be to negotiations and if he felt that his voice could get things done, I don’t expect that he would rather do that than make some more money that he doesn’t need.

But then again, we’ll probably here that he’s signing with the Belfast Giants tomorrow morning and everything I just said was shit.

Go lockout.


Let’s Ring in the Lockout by Spending Silly Money (Or Exactly What the Owners are So Determined to Do Away With)

Well the NHL will be locking out players at 11:59PM tonight. Before they do that though many Owners have made last ditch efforts to pay exorbitant contracts to their players to lock them up for a while.

The lockout is upon us. My advice is to not get all worked up about it. Yes, it sucks, but if you stay cool throughout the situation, it won’t be as bad. With that said, a little media to help you pass the time…