Breaking Sports

Saturday, April 23, 2005

nhl- Agents and the NHL

The information provided for this post is from a story that appeared in SportsBusinessJournal.com, a paid registration website and weekly magazine/paper..

The article, which was written just before the BOG meeting on Wednesday, is about how agents use their influence to help shape new labor agreements for different leagues, but I am only going to give you some information regarding the agents involved with the NHLPA.

  • In the current NHL lockout, communication between agents and management has raised some eyebrows. In an example of agents working to help their union, sources said a group of hockey player agents, representing eight major sports agencies, are in discussions to form an alternative league to compete with any NHL plan to use replacement players.“We are not going to sit around and have no alternative for our players to play,” said one person familiar with the agents’ effort.
    There has been some recent optimism that a deal could be struck to end the NHL lockout. But if there is no deal, the agent-organized league could go head-to-head against a league effort to use replacement players.
    The agencies involved, including IMG, Octagon and Newport Sports, are acting at the behest of the NHLPA. The agent-planned league will go forward if the NHL declares an impasse, implements a new economic system and tries to lure NHL players back under the new rules.
  • In the last few months, agents may have taken the initiative in labor talks in the NHL lockout, as well. Last month, NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow told agents at a meeting in Toronto that certain agents had damaged the collective-bargaining process by striking up talks with NHL owners. Prominent agents were said to be involved in a plan to save the season right after it was canceled by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Goodenow did not name the agents who he said injected themselves into the negotiations, but said they did not show up at that March 2 meeting.
    Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney who has represented a number of sports unions and currently represents the NBPA and the NFL Players Association, said, “If the NHL agents are acting on their own, in my view they are acting in a way that is inconsistent with their roles as agents.”
  • Starting in March 2004, NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly sent 20 to 30 major NHL player agents copies of a financial report prepared for the league by former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt. The report claimed that player costs were not in line with sound business practices. Some agents, who said Daly included a personal note with the report, saw it as an effort to go around the union.
    Then in November, numerous hockey agents received, from an anonymous sender, an internal NHL memo that criticized the union’s message to players. NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin accused the NHL of sending the letter, which was delivered in a plain manila envelope with no return address, but an NHL spokeswoman denied that the league sent it.
    Just a few weeks ago, some agents received a copy of a letter from Daly to the NHLPA stating that the union’s threat to decertify agents who represent replacement players violated the National Labor Relations Act and the NHL’s expired CBA.
    J.P. Barry, an agent who is co-director of IMG Hockey and a former NHLPA lawyer, said that the NHL’s communication with agents appears to be part of the “massive public relations campaign that the league has conducted throughout these negotiations” and “another effort to manipulate all the related constituencies.” Communication between agents and management during the lockout is counterproductive, Barry said.

nhl- Let's Meet in Austria

via Sportsnet, In the absence of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the upcoming World Hockey Championships will do its best to fill the hockey void. But, even the international stage may not be able to escape the dark cloud of the NHL lockout.
Sources tell Sportsnet the NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed to meet twice per week starting May 2, and there is a good chance the two sides will meet in Austria while attending the worlds.
On Thursday, Bob Goodenow made a brief stop at NHL headquarters in New York, however nothing of substance was discussed.
The league did supply the union with a list of 13 potential meeting dates over a three week span. However, neither side could agree on a workable date for next week, so it appears, at best, almost two weeks will pass between formal negotiations.

nhl- Wings Assistant to coach in Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Detroit Red Wings associate coach Barry Smith has been named head coach of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the Russian Superleague club said on Saturday.
The 54-year-old American would become the first coach from the National Hockey League (NHL) to ply his trade in Russia.
The entire NHL season was lost to a labor dispute which could also halt the start of next season.
With the league's future still clouded in uncertainty, Smith has followed many top NHL players who headed to the Superleague, which many believe is the richest hockey league outside the NHL.
As assistant to Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, Smith has won five Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991 and 92) and the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 98 and 2002).
Smith also has extensive international experience coaching U.S. national teams and while in Detroit he helped form the Russian unit of defensmen Vladimir Konstantinov-Vyacheslav Fetisov and forwards Sergei Fedorov-Igor Larionov-Vyacheslav Kozlov.
The club from the Urals, commonly known in Russia as Magnitka because of its association with a large steel factory, sacked Czech coach Marek Sikora last month after Metallurg lost in the Superleague semi-finals to Avangard Omsk.

nhl- Best Quote of the Week

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman this week stated that the league would not use replacement players. "That's nice," says Toronto comedian Frenchie McFarlane. "Now, if we could just get a replacement commissioner we might be getting somewhere."

media- Mitch Albom Update

A letter from Carole Leigh Hutton, Publisher and Editor of the Detroit Free Press.

Dear Readers:
Detroit Free Press management has completed its internal review of an April 3 Mitch Albom column that contained inaccurate information by describing an event that had not yet occurred.
Albom will resume writing columns for the Free Press. His work has not appeared since he addressed the incident with readers on April 7.
Disciplinary action has been taken against five employees, Albom and four others, each of whom had some role in putting the April 3 column into the paper and each of whom had the responsibility to fix errors before publication.
We took into account many factors, including the seriousness of the offense, the importance of our credibility, the history of those involved and Albom's 20 stellar years at the Free Press.
We now look forward to that work continuing in the Free Press.
We also think it's important to report on ourselves and our transgressions in the same way we would report on the institutions we write about regularly. So, reporting is continuing on a story that will be published as soon as it is ready.

nhl- Replacements would have Failed

from foxsports, It really wasn't surprising that the NHL Board of Governors decided against returning next season with replacement players during their recent meeting in New York. A growing number of reports in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's meeting revealed a majority of the owners were actually against it.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman claimed that all along the league never stated they would ice replacements, only that it was one of several scenarios to be examined and discussed.
He's right, of course, the league hierarchy never claimed with certainty that it would return with replacements, but musings from some in the owners camp to league-friendly pundits in recent months suggested otherwise.
There were some owners who were quite willing to return this autumn with replacement players, but thankfully most of them used their common sense by deciding to push instead for a negotiated settlement with the NHLPA.
A few pundits tried to spin this as a victory for Bettman, that by rejecting the replacement player option, he'd taken away NHLPA director Bob Goodenow's trump card.
It was assumed Goodenow — his comments against replacements to the contrary — wanted the league to use replacement players, banking on the scheme blowing up in the owners' collective faces and forcing them into accepting his proposals.
But why would the league allow that notion to hang like a dark cloud over negotiations if it were something that was ultimately only beneficial to the NHLPA? It just doesn't make sense.
The reason why the league never officially spoke out against the media speculation about replacements was that it was something that might work in their favor, hopefully applying further pressure to the NHLPA during negotiations.
Unfortunately for the league, it failed to achieve the desired effect.

Friday, April 22, 2005

nhl- Lockout working against the Olympics

from tsn, Prospects for NHL players taking part in the 2006 Olympics are dwindling because of the ongoing lockout, commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday.
''If we don't have a deal by the time we have to schedule, I assume it would be difficult to have Olympic participation,'' he said during the Associated Press Sports Editors annual meeting with league commissioners.
''Time is working against the Olympics,'' he said.
Union head Bob Goodenow met with the APSE group Thursday, and stopped by NHL headquarters the same day to briefly meet with Bettman. They talked about the 15 or so dates the NHL has proposed to next hold a negotiating session with the players' association.
The entire 2004-05 NHL was wiped out because of the lockout. Bettman said the sides were ''probably a tad closer today than we were'' when the season was officially cancelled.
Bettman said the difference is basically ''dollars and cents'' while Goodenow said there were other issues separating them.

Heads Up

  • Red Sox CF Johnny Damon was “rejected by Disney for a commercial (because, he said, of his long hair),” according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
  • Nike has filed a lawsuit against adidas in U.S. District Court in Portland, “asking a federal court to rule that its use of stripes in Nike clothing does not infringe on” adidas’ three-stripes trademark, according to Helen Jung of the Portland Oregonian. adidas “has sued several companies, including Nike's foreign subsidiaries, for using stripes on clothing.” Although adidas has not yet sued Nike for infringement in the U.S., Nike “wants the court to decide the issue now.”
  • “The Year of the Yao,” a New Line Cinema documentary about Rockets C Yao Ming, took in just $27,823 in Houston-area theaters during its first weekend in release, and the company canceled plans “to expand next week to about a dozen cities across the country.”
  • MLB and ESPN have agreed on a multi-year contract extension to carry regular-season games, but it is unclear “whether the deal covers postseason games,” according to three sources cited by Steve Zipay of Newsday.

nba- Kiss of Death

The Miami Heat will hold a “Kiss the Trophy” contest today at AmericanAirlines Arena. Two contestants will kiss the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy at the same time, and the fan who can remain kissing the longest will win two tickets to all ’05 Heat home playoff games. The runner-up will receive two tickets to the first playoff game against the Nets.
This could be the kiss of death for the Heat, as many NHL fans know, touching the Stanley Cup before your team has actually won it is not recommended and is considered "jinxing" your team. In case you are wondering, yes, I am a Pistons fan.

nhl- ESPN & the NHL

from the nypost, During an interview this week, ESPN Executive VP Mark Shapiro kept humming the Monday Night Football theme music. With ESPN paying $9 billion for eight years, the MNF sounds could become ominous for the NHL.
By June 1, ESPN will decide if it will pick up its $60 million option on the NHL. With the NHL devalued after canceling its season, the NFL deal will make ESPN even more likely to force hockey to take the deal it wants.
"Some of those announcements in the next several weeks might be deals we are not doing," Shapiro told NYP TV Sports. "We understand. We fully grasp we cannot acquire every property out there. We are putting our stock in the NFL and we are getting behind that horse. Other horses won't be able to run because of our deal with the NFL. That is the decision we made."
What effect will it have on the NHL?
"We believe that any rebuilding of that property would benefit from having ESPN behind it," Shapiro said. "We would like to do a deal, but that deal needs to be on our terms."

nhl- What Happened with Jacobs & Gooedenow

via the philadelphiainquirer, A snappy retort followed by a stare-down. That was behind an angry exchange between Jeremy Jacobs, the Boston Bruins' owner, and Bob Goodenow, the NHL Players' Association executive director, which cast a shadow over Tuesday's labor talks in New York.
On Wednesday, the league did an about-face during its board of governors meeting, saying it would not start the season this fall with replacement players. The season will begin only with a new collective bargaining agreement, the NHL said.
At the same time, the cantankerous Jacobs even expressed optimism.
"I think we are in good shape. We will be playing this year," Jacobs said, smiling.
So why the gloom on Tuesday?
Goodenow took offense to something Jacobs said at the end of the meeting and the manner in which the Boston owner said it, according to two people who were there and requested anonymity.
Jacobs declined to comment yesterday, referring all collective bargaining matters to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Here's a reconstruction:
As Tuesday's meeting broke up, Goodenow suggested future meeting dates.
Jacobs called out to him, "Do we have an agreement that whatever we're doing, we're not paying more than 54 percent player cost?"
Goodenow, who at that point was talking about schedule dates, was taken aback.
"No, that is not what we're doing," he retorted. "That is a leaguewide cap, and we're not interested in doing that."
Goodenow again told Jacobs that the union's hybrid plan would allow each team to determine, within a specified range, what it would spend on payroll, without guaranteeing a strict percentage.
Jacobs, who favors a small salary cap, got angry.
"He gave Bob a stare-down," one witness said. "Bob doesn't like that."
Jacobs then reportedly said, "Well, I don't know if it will be productive for us to meet, then."
That remark caught everyone at the bargaining table by surprise, since both sides had agreed moments earlier to speed up the negotiations with a set schedule.
Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, someone from the league office - perhaps Bettman or Bill Daly, the NHL's executive vice president and chief legal counsel - apparently pointed out to Jacobs that the goal was to extend the negotiations, not abruptly end them.
Hence, Jacobs' different tone after Wednesday's board of governors meeting.
Yesterday, Goodenow and Bettman reportedly were e-mailing each other schedule dates whereby they will meet twice a week for the foreseeable future.

nhl- Not Close

via the globeandmail, The National Hockey League Players' Association has reluctantly agreed to the National Hockey League's request to an increased schedule of negotiations over the next few weeks, but that does not mean the two sides are any closer to a collective agreement.
The NHLPA negotiators remain angry at how the last session ended this week. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs sparked an exchange at the end of the meeting when he told NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow that the union's proposals would never work, unless the union agrees to cap player salaries at 54 per cent of what the league declares is its revenue.
While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman tried to put a positive spin on the talks, saying the league and the union are discussing a deal with a salary cap, the sides remain far apart on the key issues.
The league still has not embraced the union's revenue-sharing proposal, which it wants connected to any salary cap. And the union's idea of tying revenue sharing to a luxury tax at the upper end of payrolls is not palatable to the league's hard-line club owners, such as Jacobs.
And in addition to the contentious issues of salary caps, there is a long list of other matters that have to be negotiated as part of a collective agreement. This includes entry-level contracts, guaranteed contracts, salary arbitration, a drug policy, the entry draft and the fate of existing contracts, if there are any still in effect when the league gets back to playing hockey.
No schedule for the labour talks was worked out yesterday, but it is expected the next round will begin in the middle of next week. The plan is to meet at least twice a week for the next several weeks.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

mlb- Pete Rose Status Unchanged

With time running out on Pete Rose to make the Hall of Fame ballot, commissioner Bud Selig said there's been no change in the status of the banned career hits leader.
Unless Selig reinstates him by late November, Rose will not appear on the 2006 Hall ballot -- the last year he can be considered by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
"Nothing new since we spoke last," Selig said Thursday during the Associated Press Sports Editors annual meeting with league commissioners. Asked whether there would be shift by next spring, he said, "I really don't know."
Rose remains on the ineligible list after admitting he bet on baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds in the late 1980s. If he fails to make the BBWAA ballot, and unless the voting rules are changed, the only group that could elect Rose into Cooperstown would be the Veterans Committee.

nfl- Detroit Lions Fans

The Lions today introduced a black alternate jersey, featuring Honolulu Blue numbers with silver and white trim that will be worn by the team in as many as two regular-season games during the ’05 season.
Modeling the new jersey is Kevin Jones and Roy Williams.



nhl- Not Close to an Agreement

At times, I have been able to get some information regarding the CBA, especially from the NHLPA side. Let's just say the media reports that the sides are close to a revenue sharing arrangement are false. Also, do you think the NHLPA wanted Jeremy Jacobs at that meeting, that is the reason Linden and Gartner were held out of attending the meeting.
The NHL is attempting to paint a picture that both sides are on the same page, but did you notice what Goodenow saidyesterday? NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow said the NHL would be better off negotiating with the union than spending time discussing replacement players. "We have stayed out of the replacement player debate since we thought it was a poorly conceived and ill-advised strategy," said Goodenow. "Finally, it appears the League has come to realize it would be bad for the fans, the sport and the business. The NHL should focus its efforts on reaching an agreement with the players." Notice nothing at all about being on the same page, or we continue to work to achieve a common agreement, etc. Folks, it is not close to being done.

nhl- Goodenow May not Meet

via Sportsnet, NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow's in New York today but failing a late change of plan he's not expected to meet with NHL brass.
It's rumoured Tuesday's meeting between the NHL and the Players' Association may have left Goodenow feeling a little unhappy and it's believed the NHLPA's leader is threatening not to schedule any meetings.
Sources tell Sportsnet the league has followed up on its plan to invite the union back into discussions, but so far no date for the next meeting has been established.
Goodenow's in New York to meet with a number of American sports editors, something both the NHLPA and the NHL do on an annual basis.

nhl- Who Blinks First

from Stan Fischler and foxsports, The cat-and-mouse melodrama called "Who Blinks First — The NHL or NHLPA?" is taking another mysterious turn now that commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated that the league will not open the 2005-06 season with replacement players.
At a Manhattan Westin Hotel press conference Wednesday, following a board of governors' meeting, the NHL boss also stressed that if no collective bargaining agreement is achieved by an autumn deadline, which he has yet to set, "options become an issue again."
Although Bettman refused to specify those "options," one is the possibility of declaring "impasse" and then signing NHL players who would "cross over," bypassing the union in favor of the league. Suggesting that the NHLPA has been stalling in negotiations on the assumption that the league is more desperate for a deal than the NHLPA, Bettman argues that his union counterpart, Bob Goodenow should have more incentive to make a deal than the commissioner.
The league's point is that the monies available to players will continue to melt away like an icicle on a warm afternoon.
"Every day," says Bettman, "it gets worse and every day it costs the players money."

mlb- Garciaparra out at least two Months

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Chicago Cubs shortstop Nomar Garciaparra will be sidelined at least two-to-three months because of a torn left groin.
Garciaparra was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, one day after he got hurt while leaving the batter's box during a game against St. Louis. Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal said the muscle pulled away from the bone.
The Cubs, doctors and Garciaparra will decide in the next 10 days whether an operation is needed.
"The surgery is really going to be determined by is it something that Nomar wants to do," O'Neal said. "We're trying to make a determination of what would be the most predictable outcome."

nhl- Mixed Messages

from espn, Certainly the past two days have provided a myriad of messages, mostly mixed, about whether a new CBA is in the offing. There was little in the way of optimism reported from Tuesday's bargaining session, one that reportedly ended with Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs angrily denouncing a union proposal. But a day later owners were talking enthusiastically about starting a season with those very same union members back in the fold.
Implied, then, is that owners have come to understand what seemed to be obvious from the outset -- rebuilding the game must be done with the best players on the ice.
It also suggests the league is dedicated to negotiating an end to this disagreement rather than bullying and threatening its way to a conclusion.
Such a strategy might have been more effective last November, but it's a moot point now.
Instead, the good news is that the future of the NHL seems to have assumed its rightful place at the top of both side's do-to lists. Such a shift was first apparent when players were invited to partake in discussions about rule changes at GMs meeting in Detroit two weeks ago. Wednesday's developments are further evidence.
While Daly wouldn't elaborate on why replacement players were no longer an option for the start of next season, he did say it wasn't because the league couldn't get its legal ducks in a row in time.
"We have decided not to make them an option," he said. "No more complicated than that."
For the moment, it seems big-market teams that did not want any part of replacement players have carried the day. Whether the cost of that victory is giving up a bigger piece of their profits through revenue sharing isn't yet known.

nhl- Just Talking

Recaping yesterday with some key statements.
  • Goodenow “lauded the NHL for backing off the idea of opening the season with replacements.” Goodenow: “Finally it appears the league has come to realize it would be bad for the fans, the sport and the business” . But Goodenow added, “For Gary to say the negotiations are now only a matter of dollars and cents is both simplistic and misleading. There continue to be a myriad of issues to address, including player rights and system issues that impact the daily lives and careers of players, the way the game is played and marketed, and the growing financial disparities between clubs in a league with no meaningful revenue sharing” .
  • The latest proposal under consideration contains a floating salary cap, but a “major issue is how to accurately determine revenue to set the bottom and top limits.”
  • Bettman, on the union’s willingness to negotiate a cap-based system: “That’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s no economic reality to what we need” . Bettman said that revenue sharing is “’not a system, in and of itself,’ but a tool that can help some clubs be competitive.” Bettman: “We want a system that enables the league, as a whole, to be healthy. We will do what is necessary so those teams can be stable and competitive” .
  • Kings President Tim Leiweke: “Despite what you occasionally read from wild-eyed lunatics, there was not one voice of contention or doubt. Everybody’s on the same page”. Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs said the BOG meeting was “good, really good. We’ll be playing next year” . MLSE President & CEO Richard Peddie, when asked if the sides were close to an agreement, said, “I’m not sure we are” .
  • Bettman, on the state of the league’s TV rights package: “We’re in discussions with [networks]. I’m not particularly concerned about that issue” .

blog- Away for a Bit

Have a few thing to do today that will not allow me to update again until around 1pm, EDT. Maybe by that time we will hear that the next 20 CBA meetings have been scheduled-yea right.

nhl- NHLPA loses trump Card

from the ottawasun, The landscape in the NHL's labour dispute changed dramatically yesterday, with Bob Goodenow possibly losing his ace in the hole. As much as the head of the NHL Players' Association had termed the use of replacement players a recipe for disaster, sources say Goodenow would have loved to have seen the league's governors decide to go that route.
Instead, after doing a lot of homework and soul-searching in the last couple of months, commissioner Gary Bettman declared after a meeting with the owners at a New York hotel yesterday that their priority is to get a deal done with the NHLPA.
Bettman might have merely been extending an olive branch to the union to get a CBA in place before another season is disrupted. But Goodenow was probably sitting in his Toronto office disappointed with the news.

nhl- Surprising word from Ilitch

from the detnews, The NHL ruled out one possibility Wednesday as its stalemate with the NHL Players Association grinds on. Only if there is agreement on a new contract will the 2005-06 NHL season begin on time, in early October, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. After that ... no one has ruled out any possibilities, including the use of replacement players. At least that's the view of Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch. "If we had to go to replacement players, I'm not that concerned," Ilitch said Wednesday. "If we don't make a deal and an impasse is declared, I feel we've got to play hockey." Bettman's focus Wednesday was on reaching an agreement and restoring NHL-grade hockey following the wipeout of the 2004-05 season. He met for four hours in New York with the league's board of governors and representatives from the 30 NHL teams. It was their second such meeting in seven weeks. "We will continue to plan for the start of next season with an on-time opening in October," said Bettman, adding that anything short of an agreement and a punctual start to the 2005-06 season might change strategies. "If that is an eventuality at that juncture," he said, "we will have to start again on what options we will pursue."

nhl- Major Steps by BOG

from Al Strachan and the torontosun, Apparently, the National Hockey League's governors are fans of that well known philosopher Mark Knopfler, who wrote the following lyrics for his song Nobody's Got The Gun:
You can't go playing poker
With a pistol in your sleeve.
You can't make somebody love you
By threatening to leave.
To their credit, the governors finally have figured out that the proposed tactic of using replacement players was fatally flawed.
Yesterday, in New York, the governors agreed to make a sharp about turn, stop threatening the players, and let it be known that it is their intention to attain a deal through negotiation, not coercion.
Commissioner Gary Bettman tried to imply that this move was not a change of stance, although that was clearly not the case.
"We as a league are committed to -- and preparing for -- the 2005-06 season," Bettman said last month. At the same time, he strongly implied, without using the term, that if there was no new CBA in place, the NHL would use replacement players.
continued...

nhl- More Delays

from Larry Brooks and the nypost, Here's how Tuesday's meeting between the NHL and NHLPA ended: With Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs, who wouldn't know how to spell "Cup," if spotted the "C" and the "p" (and would never want to if he had to buy the vowel) telling Bob Goodenow it would be a waste of time to schedule any further meetings until the union is willing to commit to a deal equating payrolls to 54 percent of league revenue.
Gary Bettman wasn't quite as clumsy — or, perhaps, forthright — following yesterday's Never Hockey League Board of Governors meeting, yet he too indicated that the lockout would end only when the PA is willing to accept the league's definition of what it can afford to pay the players.
Despite paying lip service to the bargaining process, the NHL continues to define negotiation as PA capitulation. It doesn't matter that the union is offering the most significant givebacks in the history of pro sports collective bargaining. This cartel has no interest in reaching a deal that it does not dictate.
Informed by the board yesterday that scab hockey cannot be considered a credible option for 2005-06, Bettman thereafter went into his usual spiel with the media about how each day's delay in reaching an agreement with the union would necessarily equate to less available money for the players. Diminishing revenues, and all that.
But The Post has learned that the league's revenue forecast for a regularly scheduled 2005-06 was actually higher on Tuesday than it had represented to the union on March 17.
At that time, the NHL forecast a best-case number of $1.8B for next year, a $300M decline from 2003-04. Yet, Tuesday, using individual club projections, the league forecast was closer to $2B.
We're told that when questioned about the discrepancy by a PA representative, Bettman said he really didn't believe the numbers provided by his teams. Of course not.
The NHL continues to engage in regressive bargaining. On Feb. 15, the league proposal to avert cancellation provided for a hard cap of $42.5M with no individual team payroll minimum. That would have created a likely league-endorsed payroll gap of close to $25M between the highest- and lowest-spending clubs.
On March 17, the delinked NHL proposal would have established a range of $15M between a high of $37.5M and a low of $22.5M. Now, however, the NHL is insisting it will not accept any deal in which the range is larger than $10M.
Bettman yesterday said he has no higher priority than to reach an agreement with the PA. Yet on Tuesday, he alerted all parties in attendance that the session would have to break for at least 21/2 hours so he could attend a commissioners roundtable hosted by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York to which he had previously committed.
Joined at the event by both Bud Selig and David Stern — but not Paul Tagliabue, busy with NFL meetings in Atlanta — Bettman reportedly drew laughs delivering one-liners about the labor dispute and the NHL's disappearing TV revenues.
We're sure all those league and team employees who have lost their jobs during the lockout would have laughed, too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

nhl- Bettman says concept is Workable

from the philadelphiainquirer(reg. req.), Since the BOG on March 1st, many NHL owners - including the Flyers' Ed Snider and Toronto's Richard Peddie - have raised stern objections to using non-union players.
"We are focusing on getting a collective bargaining agreement with NHL players," Peddie said. "What (league officials) were doing was looking at alternatives a month-and-a-half ago. We're trying to get back to playing hockey with NHL-caliber players. In the end, everyone agreed ... let's keep focusing on getting a deal."
Asked what the alternative to using replacement players would be, Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said, "Don't play."
Snider supports Bettman on not opening the doors in the fall unless there's a new labor agreement with the NHL Players' Association.
"That is what we are all hoping for: a deal with our players," Snider said.
When told that Phoenix owner Wayne Gretzky, who is thinking of coaching the Coyotes next season, announced that he would not coach replacement players, Snider said kiddingly, "I definitely will not coach replacement players."
Bob Goodenow, executive director of the NHLPA, said the union has stayed out of the replacement-player debate "since we thought it was a poorly conceived and ill-advised strategy."
Bettman said the mandate on Wednesday from the governors was to get a deal done.
"There never was that much focus (on using replacement players)," he said. "We said we would explore all our options. Exploring your options doesn't mean you are doing it or not doing it, or it's a good idea or a bad idea."
Bill Daly, the league's chief legal counsel, said the pros and cons of replacement players were discussed, but getting a new labor deal remained the "one business alternative we come out of this meeting committed to achieve."
The league wants twice-weekly labor talks through the month of May and June, if needed. There was optimism on Wednesday that the two sides are making progress, despite a session Tuesday that ended badly.
Bettman said the union's hybrid concept presented on April 4 - a payroll mechanism with lower and upper limits linked to annual league revenues - was workable with some "tweaking."
"This is a concept we can work with," he said. "It's just a matter now about dollars and cents. The dollars and cents has to get less. I suppose progress is being made, albeit slower than anyone, including me, would like to see."
Because of the length of the labor discussion, the governors only had time for a cursory discussion on revenue sharing and never addressed the prospect of a makeshift draft.

nhl- Working Towards an Agreement

from newsday, NHL chief counsel Bill Daly also said the option of declaring impasse is still possible. "I'm not going to rule out anything," he said.
When taking a break during the meeting in Manhattan, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said it wouldn't be hard to find replacement players, especially former NHL players in Europe who might have been bumped by current NHLers who went over to play this past season.
"They've gone over to Europe and stolen their jobs," Clarke said. "So I don't think they'd have any problem coming back here to play."
Most of the owners who left yesterday's meeting spoke with optimism about next season and, interestingly, about reaching a deal with the NHL Players Association.
The league would like to accelerate that pace, so yesterday, Bettman reached out to NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow to schedule twice-a-week meetings. "Hopefully more than that," Daly said.
Bettman also said he will soon set another deadline to reach an agreement before the start of next season is in jeopardy. ESPN has an already once-extended June 1 deadline to pick up a one-year option on its NHL contract.
Daly said that deal has no impact on the CBA proceedings. "We're not tying one into the other," he said.
Bettman implored the union to "stop the jockeying." The NHLPA, he pointed out, has already conceded a salary-cap system, which was believed to be the biggest hurdle.
Said Bettman: "We're negotiating in dollars and cents."

nhl- Is it Replacement Time?

from Stan Fischler and foxsports- story released 1/2 hour after the BOG meeting, That is the question to be debated on Wednesday when National Hockey League owners meet at Manhattan's Westin Hotel.
This is not the scenario that Gary Bettman wanted.
The NHL commissioner had hoped that a 6 1/2 hour meeting on Tuesday with the Bob Goodenow-led NHL Players' Association negotiating crew would result in progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement.
Instead, according to two league officials who spoke with me after the meeting, it was a total waste of time.
"No progress was made," the NHL negotiator said. "It's clear that he (Goodenow) wants to drag this out as long as possible."
Because a new "hybrid" CBA formula had been discussed at the previous meeting on April 4 in Toronto, optimists believed that the two sides would move closer to an agreement.
"They (the NHLPA) did a lot of talking but none of it moved the process forward," another NHL negotiator told me. "We should have been out of there in an hour and a half instead of more than six hours."
League negotiators remain convinced that Goodenow's plan is to drag out inconsequential talks through the summer on the assumption that the league is more desperate for a deal than the players.

nhl- More Talk on Today's BOG Meeting

from the nationalpost, NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow said the NHL would be better off negotiating with the union than spending time discussing replacement players.
"We have stayed out of the replacement player debate since we thought it was a poorly conceived and ill-advised strategy," said Goodenow. "Finally, it appears the League has come to realize it would be bad for the fans, the sport and the business. The NHL should focus its efforts on reaching an agreement with the players."
Bettman said the use of replacement players was only one of several ideas examined by owners and was never a chosen course of action.
"The fact of the matter is, and we made this clear over the last month or so, we were going to explore all of our options," Bettman said. "That doesn't mean you're doing it or not doing it, it doesn't mean it's a good idea or a bad idea.
"Obviously if we can't open on time, the options become an issue again. But it was never that it was in, and rejected, or out and accepted."
Either way, it means legal impasse and all the ugly legal wrangling that would have ensued have now been temporarily shelved.
But that doesn't mean it's the last we've heard of replacement players. If the season doesn't start on time, the NHL may have to look at it again.
"Among the options (if the season is delayed) are continuing to stay shut down - indefinitely or for some period of time - another is playing with new players," Bettman said. "But we're not going to speculate about that because we want it to be clear our focus is on making a deal with the Players' Association."
Perhaps just the threat of using replacement players has done
what the owners wanted all along in getting the union to the table.

nhl- Two Messages Sent

from TSN and Bob McKenzie, Two very clear messages came out of the NHL Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday.
Message number one was designed for the players. The message: if there is not a negotiated settlement to solve the NHL lockout, there will not be replacement players used in the fall.
There will, however, be more of the same for the players.
That means more missed paychecks, and the prospect of not knowing when or if they will play next season.

The second clear message that was sent out went to the owners. The message: if there is not a negitiated settlement, do next expect the season to start on time, because the NHL will not use replacement players just to get the league back on the ice.
That being said, the NHL is keeping the door open to allow the owners to re-visit the prospect of using replacement players if the lockout drags beyond the fall. It could still be a strategy down the road.
As for the negotiations themselves, I certainly don't see any progress getting made.
The framework is there if the two sides want to embrace it, but I don't see that happening right now.

nhl- Saskin- "Saner Minds Prevailed"

from the nytimes (thursday edition), Although Bettman did not rule out using nonunion players at a later time as strategy to end the lockout that canceled the 2004-5 season and jeopardizes the next one, his tone was more conciliatory than in previous statements. He expressed optimism that frequent negotiating sessions soon could resolve the lockout, which began last Sept. 16.
"We're making clear that we're not going to open on time if we don't have a new C.B.A. with our players," Bettman said.
Referring to speculation about the use of replacement players, Bettman said, "There was a leap in terms of what people thought was going to happen."
Bettman said "there's been much too much confusion on the subject" of replacement players and that "there never was that much focus" on this strategy. Should there be no settlement, Bettman said options include "playing with new players, obviously, but we're not going to speculate about that."
There are many legal complications involving the use of replacement players and there are also questions about fan support.
The union immediately expressed skepticism about Bettman's statements. Ted Saskin, senior director of the union, said: "One has to take with a heavy grain of salt many comments he makes because there have been numerous examples of inconsistent positions. Why he's trying to put the optimistic spin on this, I don't know."
As for the apparent retreat on use of replacement players, Saskin said that "the saner minds prevailed" among the owners. "They said, 'That's not the way to market the world's best hockey league,' " Saskin said. "It was not a viable strategy, nor did it make sense."

nhl- Why the Change

After the CBA meeting on Tuesday, Gary Bettman said this, "My stance on starting the season hasn't changed. What I have said is that we are planning to start the season on time and that is a plan that will continue to be in place. But I do have a board meeting tomorrow and we have a number of issues and options and matters to discuss with the board so I can talk more about that tomorrow."
The second part of the statement gave him an "out" for today and I have a feeling he knew beforehand that the NHL was not going to go the replacement route. Plus, the NHL owners and Bettman met privately for no more than an hour so they really could not have talked about a number of issues and options and matters that he referred to yesterday.
Where does this lead to; maybe the NHL owners have agreed to revenue sharing but not to the extent that the NHLPA wants. But it could be enough to actually begin negotiating in good faith and isn't that what both sides have wanted since Day 1?

nhl- TSN Discusses the BOG

From tsn(wll open WMP video).

The TSN Insiders discuss the BOG Meeting.

A report from the BOG Meeting.

nhl- More from the BOG Meeting

from tsn, "We are focusing on a getting a collective bargaining agreement with NHL players," said Richard Peddie, president and CEO and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. "What they were doing was looking at alternatives a month an a half ago . . . we're trying to get back to playing NHL hockey with NHL calibre players. In the end, everyone agreed `let's keep focusing on getting a deal."'
Bettman said the use of replacement players was only one of several ideas examined by owners and was never a chosen course of action.
"The fact of the matter is, and we made this clear over the last month or so, we were going to explore all of our options," Bettman said. "That doesn't mean you're doing it or not doing it, it doesn't mean it's a good idea or a bad idea.
"Obviously if we can't open on time, the options become an issue again. But it was never that it was in, and rejected, or out and accepted."
Either way, it means legal impasse and all the ugly legal wrangling that would have ensued have now been temporarily shelved.
Bettman said he would call NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow later Wednesday to formalize a schedule that would see both sides hold bargaining talks twice a week from here on in.
So what's the deadline to get a deal done? Bettman wouldn't say. Some might speculate that it's tied to ESPN's deadline on whether to continue its relationship with the NHL.
"They have an option period through some point in June to exercise their option or not for next year and we're in discussion with them," Bettman said. "I'm not particularly concerned about that an issue."
Said Bill Daly, the NHL's executive vice-president and chief legal officer, about ESPN affecting the time frame to get a deal done with the NHLPA: "We're not tying one to the other."

nhl- Lou Lamoriello Talks

Lou was just on Toronto 590 Radio and said there is the framework for a deal to be made. Both sides must give and take, not everyone will be 100% happy but we must get a deal done.
Asked about some owners saying a month ago "we will be using replacement players". Lamoriello responded that the owners are now looking out for the future of the NHL, not individual teams.
Short interview, end of story.

nhl- Owners Must Have Listened to Russ

This article was written before the CBA meeting but just posted online at 6pm.

from Russ Conway and the eagletribune, The NFL tried using "replacement" players in 1987 during a strike. It was hard to tell who had more pain, the players or the fans in the stands that paid to watch big lugs who needed a sundial to figure out how fast they could run the 100.
Why not just get the "leaders" of pro hockey to check their egos at the door and finally get a new contract done?
Yesterday, the NHL brain trust -- including Bruins owner Jerry Jacobs -- met again with players union executives for better than six hours. And what did they do? Discussed "various issues."
As NHL vice-president Bill Daly's official word put it, "no substantive progress toward a new agreement was made."
But here's the kicker. The two sides hope to arrange, according to Daly, "a more aggressive meeting schedule over the next several weeks in an attempt to move the process forward."
This just in! It's April 20th -- and now you decide you're going to arrange more meetings "to move the process forward."
They can say that with a straight face?.
Where were they in September, October, November, December? January, February, March? Why weren't they more aggressive with their meetings then?
This is the biggest farce in the history of pro sports, business, contract negotiations, and anything remotely close to caring about people who have ever supported a business as fans or workers.
The Stanley Cup collects dust in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Careers and livelihoods are put on hold at the whim of billionaires and millionaires. Nothing gets done while a World Series passes, a Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, The Masters, the Boston Marathon. And now it's time to start trying to meet more "over the next several weeks"?
How about seven days instead? Put them in the penalty box.
Never mind thinking about "replacement" players, that's what the Board of Governors should be talking about today. Stopping the circus.
That "replacement" player idea will never fly.
Real hockey fans are already sick of the imposters.
If they really wanted a season, why didn't they meet all the time before wasting it?

nhl- PR Firm Not Hired

Remember the story Al Strachan wrote about the NHL hiring a PR Firm, well...

NHL Group VP/Communications Bernadette Mansur refuted a report in yesterday’s Toronto Sun that said the league had retained PR firm Rogers & Cowan to develop a post-lockout re-launch strategy. “We are talking to a lot of (PR) firms, including several in L.A.,” she said, “but we haven’t hired anyone.” With the drastic cutbacks at NHL HQs in N.Y., Mansur acknowledged, “We could use some arms and legs, but we haven’t gotten there.” Rogers & Cowan, L.A., GM Dave Nobs added, “We’ve had several meetings, but by no means have we gotten an official go-ahead.” The NHLPA has had the Chicago office of Edelman PR on retainer for more than a year.

nhl- Mixed Signals

sportsnet is reporting this, "The focus remains on getting a deal done and we're not at the point of any alternative action," the source added.
"We will play next year," a source told Sportsnet immediately following the National Hockey League Board of Governors' meeting in New York.
A strong assertion following the lockouts latest round of talks concluding with the familiar refrain of "good dialogue, but no progress."
"The focus remains on getting a deal done and we're not at the point of any alternative action," the source added.
Which means the threat of replacement players remains in tact, but it's not an option the league's about to launch any time soon.

nhl- BOG Talk

Howard Berger reporting the concept of the BOG today, which is "We will continue to negotiate", was much different than the March 1st BOG meeting, which was "We will play next year".
ESPN decision date is June 1st (as reported on Breaking Sports last week) and that appears to be the next deadline date.

nhl- More on BOG

From Canadian Press, The prospect of replacement players in the NHL next season appeared to fade as an option as owners and general managers left a board of governors meeting Wednesday seemingly intent on negotiating a deal with the players, not forcing one through the courts.
"The feeling in the room was that we're getting closer to a deal with the players," said Dallas Stars president Jim Lites.
That was despite the way Tuesday's labour talks ended, with Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs apparently igniting a heated exchange with the NHL Players' Association.
Jacobs walked by reporters Wednesady and simply said: "I hope we'll be playing this year."

But the league seems willing to negotiate off the union's concept first presented April 4, one which would see an upper limit on payrolls as well as a base, linked on a yearly basis to league revenues.
"They're inching towards a settlement," Lites said. "We're on the same page finally."
Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said the union concept has its merits, "if you work the numbers right."
Owners, executives and GMs from all 30 teams assembled at the same Manhattan hotel the last board meeting was held March 1.
And again, just like the last gathering, GMs were kicked out of the room while owners held an executive session for about an hour.
The order for the next entry draft was not brought up, which was somewhat surprising after the contentious discussion GMs had on the subject two weeks ago in Detroit.
All 30 teams want a crack at the No. 1 pick, when hockey phenom Sidney Crosby is expected to be selected.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he planned to contract PA executive director Bob Goodenow later in the day to schedule a new series of meetings.
"We will continue to plan and work very hard with the Players' Association to reach a new collective bargaining as soon as possible so that our players can be on the ice for the start of the season," he said.

nhl- Bettman Talks

Bettman just said if no CBA in place by beginning of next season, the regular season will not start on time.

nhl- More on BOG

Howard Berger reporting nothing new came out of meeting. Will continue to negotiate. Surprised nothing else was discussed. Meeting just finished, so waiting for more news.
Replacement players were not discussed.

nhl- Meeting Over

via Sportsnet, The NHL's board of governors concluded its meeting Wednesday after nearly four hours of talks at a Manhattan hotel.
The league's 30 owners had been expected to discuss the option of bringing in replacement players if the NHL lockout doesn't end before September. There was also speculation the board would discuss how to proceed with an entry draft.
Negotiations between the NHL and the Players' Association ended badly Tuesday with no progress made.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league plans to start the season on time next fall.

nhl- Meeting Over

via Sportsnet, The NHL's board of governors concluded its meeting Wednesday after nearly four hours of talks at a Manhattan hotel.
The league's 30 owners had been expected to discuss the option of bringing in replacement players if the NHL lockout doesn't end before September. There was also speculation the board would discuss how to proceed with an entry draft.
Negotiations between the NHL and the Players' Association ended badly Tuesday with no progress made.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league plans to start the season on time next fall.

nhl- Jeremy Jacobs

Arthur Griffiths on his radio show today said Jeremy Jacobs was out of line by speaking out during the CBA meeting yesterday. If the NHL wants to make a deal, that was not the time to rip in to the NHLPA. Also said Jacobs is dead set against revenue sharing but is only willing to share new revenues. Arthur said Jacobs has a right to speak out but doing it in the meeting was not the time.
Arthur feels Goodenow will report back to the PA that the NHL still does not want to negotiate, using Jacobs outburst as an example.

sports media- Station Shuffling

ESPN’s Chris Berman will host “Monday Night Countdown” when the network begins airing “MNF” in ‘06, according to Andrew Marchand of the N.Y. POST. Berman will host the show from the site of each week’s game. Berman will replace current host Stuart Scott, who will appear on the show from ESPN HQs and continue to handle halftime duties and the post-game “SportsCenter.” ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Production Mark Shapiro said that Berman will remain the host of both “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “NFL Primetime”.
Meanwhile, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol yesterday said that his office “already had received 35 to 40 calls from agents” regarding announcing roles for the network’s Sunday night NFL coverage. Ebersol declined to comment on a possible role for NBC’s Bob Costas or ABC “MNF” analyst John Madden. On Long Island, Steve Zipay writes Costas “is considered a leading candidate to be NBC’s pregame and halftime host, and likely will be joined by some new faces”.

sports media- Station Shuffling

ESPN’s Chris Berman will host “Monday Night Countdown” when the network begins airing “MNF” in ‘06, according to Andrew Marchand of the N.Y. POST. Berman will host the show from the site of each week’s game. Berman will replace current host Stuart Scott, who will appear on the show from ESPN HQs and continue to handle halftime duties and the post-game “SportsCenter.” ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Production Mark Shapiro said that Berman will remain the host of both “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “NFL Primetime”.
Meanwhile, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol yesterday said that his office “already had received 35 to 40 calls from agents” regarding announcing roles for the network’s Sunday night NFL coverage. Ebersol declined to comment on a possible role for NBC’s Bob Costas or ABC “MNF” analyst John Madden. On Long Island, Steve Zipay writes Costas “is considered a leading candidate to be NBC’s pregame and halftime host, and likely will be joined by some new faces”.

nhl- BOG Meeting Update

Howard Berger from Toronto's Team 590 Radio station is reporting NHL, owners, general managers and a few other hockey people related with the teams are meeting. At 2pm, all will be kicked out except for 30 NHL owners, Bettman and his legal staff. Berger has been told the NHL will make a definitive statement by the end of the day as to their plans for the future.

nhl- A Season Ticket Dilemma

I received an email from a Red Wing season ticket holder who refuses to renew his season tickets if the NHL goes to replacement players. The Red Wings have not made a decision on this but he says he will take them to court if they "force" him to buy tickets in order to retain his status as a season ticket holder.
He claims he is purchasing tickets for NHL games and players, not tickets to watch replacements play replacements players and therefore should retain his status until NHL players take to the ice.
I am asking, has any team made a decision yet on how they will handle season ticket holders, is this guy right and will it hold up in court?

nhl- Just forget the Playoffs

from espn, The Stanley Cup playoffs begin this week – somewhere. On some alternate Earth, with red kryptonite, telekinesis and universal health care.
Here, the sound of rusting blades, disconnected propane tanks, Zambonis being converted for pony rides, and Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow taking on babysitting jobs:
"Look, if you don't go to bed, I'll negotiate with your parents about an allowance cap tied to revenues."
"OK, OK. I wish my parents would let me stay at home by myself, you mean old jerk."
By now, we've had all the whatever-happened-to-professional-ice-hockey nostalgia pieces and retrospectives we can stand. Anyone desperate for a hockey fix could watch Denver win the Frozen Four, although for the rest of us, it sort of felt like an exercise in eat-your-vegetables-because-people-in-northern-Manitoba-are-starving.
Thus, the complete absence of playoffs seems to have met a complete absence of longing for playoffs. If there are any pangs of regret in Tampa, they are easily subsumed by the Devil Rays' big weekend series win over Oakland ... or The Masters ... or a good garage cleaning...more...

nhl- Is Sharing the Answer

from newsday, The NHL's Board of Governors will meet today in Manhattan. It is expected there will be a spirited debate about the use of replacement players for a 2005-06 season.
There is some thought within the NHL's negotiating committee that the NHLPA is purposely dragging its feet to gain some leverage by forcing this issue onto the league's owners, many of whom are against using replacement players.
"If you want to do a deal, the league's plans for six months from now ought to be very secondary," said a person familiar with the negotiations.
A person with knowledge of the union's thinking, however, said, "There's not going to be any agreement until they get all of the owners on the same page" regarding a significant revenue sharing plan. "There cannot be this partnership with the players until they have a partnership among themselves," the person added.
Now that the union has given in on both the salary cap and linkage issues - NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow reluctantly has followed the wishes of his constituents - revenue sharing has become the union's last stand.

nhl- Talking Revenue Sharing Today

from the Philadelphia Inquirer (reg. req.), After a labor negotiation session yesterday that lasted more than six hours without significant progress toward ending the NHL lockout, the league's Board of Governors will meet today in New York to discuss revenue-sharing.
It's difficult to figure out what revenues can be shared when there is no collective bargaining agreement. But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been canvassing support among high-revenue clubs to adopt a formula in which successful franchises, such as the Flyers, hand over a disproportionate amount of money annually to small-market clubs, such as Carolina and Nashville.
"Our position on enhanced revenue-sharing has been consistent since the beginning of this negotiation," Bill Daly, the NHL's chief counsel, told The Inquirer. "I don't anticipate that it will change" today.
Bettman's task today is difficult. The high-revenue clubs are opposed to giving a greater share of their revenues to the small-market clubs. This idea is a basic staple behind every one of the NHLPA's proposals.
Bettman met with Toronto Maple Leafs boss Larry Tannenbaum recently asking for his support for disproportionate revenue-sharing. If Tannenbaum agrees, so will Flyers chairman Ed Snider. If those two agree, other wealthy clubs are expected to fall in line.
Bettman did not contact the Flyers, Snider said. But Snider, who has opposed disproportionate revenue-sharing on the grounds that small-market clubs will never be able to market themselves as well as the Flyers do, appears to be willing to accede to Bettman's wishes - if other wealthy franchises agree.
"We are fully in support of whatever the league's position will be," Snider said.

nhl- Same Old Song and Dance

from the Ottawa Sun, NHL talks continue to go nowhere fast. Beyond that, there was little progress to report after the two sides in the NHL's labour dispute gathered for more than six hours yesterday in New York. The only agreement they came away with was a decision to meet again more frequently in the coming weeks.
The two sides talked yesterday about a floating team-by-team payroll range between $30-$50 million, introduced by the union on April 4. The range would be altered year-by-year depending on the level of league revenues.
But there was serious disagreement on the gap between the two numbers, and the upper limit of the proposed range.
"While we continued to discuss various issues relating to the concept that was introduced at our April 4 meeting, no substantive progress toward a new agreement was made," said NHL VP Bill Daly last night in a statement.
"The parties have agreed to arrange a more aggressive meeting schedule over the next several weeks in an attempt to move the process forward."
Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, according to a source, sparked a heated exchange between both sides when he said the NHLPA's concept did not deliver the linked system his side was looking for -- that player costs do not take up more than 54% of league revenues.
The union responded by saying its concept was not supposed to deliver that figure, or the league's version of "linkage."
"While we discussed many of the issues related to the concept that we introduced at our last meeting, we were unable to make any progress today," NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said. "I remain concerned that the NHL is not serious about developing new concepts together and remains fixated on measuring all of our proposed concepts against a linked hard-cap system. I fail to see how we can make any progress if the NHL maintains their single-track approach."
Until a deal is in place, the league will look at all options. That means replacement players will be a major source of the discussion at today's NHL board of governors meeting in New York.
"What I've said is that we intend to start in September and we're going to look at our options," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Rogers Sportsnet. "I've got a board meeting (today). That's something I intend to discuss with (owners) and then I'll be able to answer more questions on that subject tomorrow."

nhl- What Else is New

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post, The NHL and NHLPA held what passes for another one of their bargaining sessions yesterday, but if Gary Bettman and company thought that the players would take the league off the hook on the eve of today's Board of Governors meeting in Manhattan, the commissioner and his cronies were sadly mistaken.
But then, what else is new? League and Players Association representatives met here for approximately six hours — with much of the time delegated to separate caucuses — as the sides discussed the floating-cap concept introduced by the union during their April 4 meeting in Toronto.
At that time, league mouthpieces leaked a steady drip of "cautious optimism," given the PA's willingness to, in some fashion, link payrolls to revenues.
At the same time, though, NHL people warned that the union would have to dramatically alter their numbers-and accept a condition of escrow.
The union, while refraining entirely from characterizing the meeting, has continued to insist that the league engage in a far more ambitious revenue-share structure than it has ever proposed or been willing to accept.
Indeed, the union has proposed unique team-based payroll floors and ceilings based on an aggressive revenue sharing plan. It is believed that Bettman last week sounded out several big-market clubs regarding increased revenue share contributions.
Without a leap forward yesterday, the Board today will debate a future course that might feature scab hockey in the fall. It is known that while up to 10 teams favor such a strategy, numerous franchises are opposed to going that route.
Meanwhile, with the lockout in its 217th day, the league and union plan to meet again next week. The league's posture following today's meeting is likely to be instructive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

nhl- McKenzie Recaps the CBA Meeting

via TSN, Unlike the historic events that took place at the Vatican on Tuesday, we didn't see any 'white smoke' or 'black smoke' signaling progress at the NHL-NHLPA meetings in New York.
A six-and-a-half hour meeting between the two sides wasn't a terribly negative exercise, but it wasn't terribly positive, either.
The fact is we're sitting here in mid-April and there's still no deal done with nothing to get excited about.
I was surprised that the meeting went as long as it did, in so far as the fact that a couple of weeks ago - when the NHLPA put a concept forward that had a $20 million payroll range - there seemed to be a positive vibe that went with it.
That being said, I don't get the sense that we're heading in such a progressive direction this time at all.
The reason behind that is simple - that $20 million spread is huge and based on number crunching alone, they may not be able to close the gap.
With a $20 million difference, the NHL would like it to be about half of that. I think there will be some real tough sledding over those numbers and there's no question in my mind that it's going to be very difficult to get anything going.
I also got the sense going into this meeting that it was going to blow up and blow up fast, but that didn't happen and maybe that's a small positive.
And the fact that they're going to meet more frequently gives us some hope. But quite frankly, the best you can say about Tuesday's meeting is that it was neutral.

nba- Larry Brown suffering from Xenophobia

A reader of Breaking Sports passed this on to me and I thought you would interested in it. What do you think about the words Mr. Ford had for Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown?

From Chad Ford, ESPN NBA Basketball Insider, With playoff mania about to set in, there's no time like now to look back to July 1 and give a little credit to the teams that did it right since then and take a few shots at the ones that screwed it up. Team president Joe Dumars is still at the top of his game. Tayshaun Prince developed into a legit scoring threat. Antonio McDyess resurrected his career. The Pistons got something for nothing when they nabbed Carlos Arroyo. And the rest of the Pistons, for the most part, were able to keep up the pace from last season. However, Larry Brown's political games with Darko Milicic and Carlos Delfino will hurt both in the short and long term. Short term, the team could really use them in the playoffs. Long term, two staples for the future both want out of Detroit desperately. Look for the problem to solve itself this summer when Brown retires and Dumars brings in a guy who doesn't suffer from xenophobia (a person unduly fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or foreign peoples). GRADE: B+

nhl- Jacobs sparks a heated Exchange

from Sportsnet, A frustrated Bill Daly spoke to Sportsnet Tuesday night and reiterated the need to remain focused, despite the NHLPA's assumption the league is not committed in developing new concepts.
Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, according to a source, sparked a heated exchange between both sides when he said the NHLPA's concept did not deliver the linked system his side was looking for -- that player costs do not take up more than 54 per cent of league revenues.
The union responded by saying its concept was not supposed to deliver that figure, or the league's version of "linkage."
That pretty much ended the six and half hour meeting.
"While we discussed many of the issues related to the concept that we introduced at our last meeting, we were unable to make any progress today," said NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin. "I remain concerned that the NHL is not serious about developing new concepts together and remains fixated on measuring all of our proposed concepts against a linked hard cap system. I fail to see how we can make any progress if the NHL maintains their single track approach.
In response, Daly spoke to Sportsnet about the need to keep negotiations alive at any cost.
"We don't think any useful purpose is served at this point in the process to respond to comments like that. I think it is incumbent on both sides to focus on the task at hand, which is to negotiate a new agreement that will return the game to the ice at the earliest possible date."
NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will likely pick up the phone before the end of the weekend to decide when both sides will talk again.
The rest of the story is a recap of the situation that most of us know about.

nhl- Goodenow doesn't want a Deal

from Stan Fischler and Foxsports(article released about an hour after the CBA meeting), The Tuesday NHL-NHLPA meeting will only be fruitful if Mike Gartner and Trevor Linden wrest "union" control away from Bob Goodenow.
"The players are serious (about making a deal) but Bob is not," a source tells us.
Since Goodenow still holds the reins, it's doubtful anything fruitful will happen Tuesday — unless you believe in miracles. Another stalemate will compel owners to decide on Wednesday whether to approve a replacement player program.
One informal poll finds the 30 owners split down the middle on replacements. Which means the governors' conference could be long and heated.
Reps of seven western and midwestern clubs already discussed replacement marketing strategies. Chicago, Dallas, San Jose, Minnesota, Columbus, Los Angeles and St. Louis attended the meeting.
more and more and more...

nhl- No one Cares?

Just a quick update, I have heard numerous times that no one cares anymore about the NHL. Well, the amount of visits to Breaking Sports today was the most I have had since Black Saturday in late February and the day still has 4 1/2 hours left.
Not much conversation, but people do care and want to see a CBA in place soon.

nhl- Recap of the Meeting

from Sportsnet, There was no real progress to report from Tuesday's NHL labour talks although both sides in the labour battle agreed to meet with a little more frequency to help find an end to the seventh-month lockout.
Talks between the league and NHL Players' Association will resume next week.
The two sides had not met since April 4 in Toronto, when the NHLPA put something on the table that found some merit, at least on the surface, from the league side.
"While we continued to discuss various issues relating to the concept that was introduced at our April 4 meeting, no substantive progress toward a new agreement was made," Bill Daly, the NHL's executive vice-president and chief legal officer, said in a statement. "The parties have agreed to arrange a more aggressive meeting schedule over the next several weeks in an attempt to move the process forward."
Tuesday's talks, which began just past 11 a.m. EDT and ended around 5:30 p.m. were held on the eve on another board of governors meeting, also here in New York. The league's 30 owners are scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. at a Manhattan hotel.
The subject of replacement players will once again be front and centre at Wednesday's meeting, although it's not clear that all 30 teams are in favour of going that route.
If the NHLPA's latest concept leads to a workable framework, replacement players won't be needed.
more...

nhl- TSN Insiders

The TSN Insiders, Healy, Burke and McKenzie talk (will open in WMP video) about today's meeting.

nhl- NHL Statement

NEW YORK (April 19, 2005) - Representatives of the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association today resumed discussions regarding a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The League was represented by Commissioner Gary Bettman; Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames, chairman of the NHL Board of Governors; NHL Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer Bill Daly; Boston Bruins owner Jerry Jacobs; Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold; New Jersey Devils Chief Executive Officer, President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello; NHL Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell; NHL Senior Vice President, General Counsel David Zimmerman, and attorneys Bob Batterman and Shep Goldfein.
After the meeting, which lasted approximately 6-1/2 hours, Mr. Daly released the following statement:
"While we continued to discuss various issues relating to the concept that was introduced at our April 4 meeting, no substantive progress toward a new agreement was made. The parties have agreed to arrange a more aggressive meeting schedule over the next several weeks in an attempt to move the process forward. We remain committed to doing everything we can to reach a negotiated solution as soon as possible."

nhl- Wednesday BOG Meeting

Sparks will be flying in this meeting. A growing number of owners wants to strike a deal within the structure that the NHLPA has proposed.
Will there be enough pressure on Bettman and the owners opposing this proposal is the question. The majority of the NHL owners do not want replacement players and do not want to go to court either. The court option is a roll of the dice but the NHL has way more to lose if indeed the courts ruled in favor of the PA.
Tomorrow is the big day, today was a let's see if anyone budges and moves off of their proposals.

nhl- More Discussion Planned

from Canadian Press, NEW YORK (CP) - The NHL and Players' Association met for more than six hours Tuesday.
The two sides last met April 4 in Toronto when the union introduced a concept that could have some appeal to the league side.
NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said he had hoped to continue discussion of that concept, which could bridge the gap between the two sides' positions.
''Of equal importance is a discussion on whether the NHL is prepared to move in the direction of having a real revenue sharing program,'' Saskin said before the meeting. ''We are certainly looking forward to hearing what they have developed in this area.''
The NHLPA introduced a floating team-by-team payroll range that has a lower and upper limit linked to league revenues. Based on last season's revenues of $2.1 billion US, the upper salary cap would be $50 million per team, with a minimum base of $30 million.
But the cap changes depending on revenues. Given that revenues are expected to take a major hit because of the damage from wiping out an entire season, the cap figure will likely be lower. If, say, revenues are $1.5 billion the first season back, the union plan would lower the upper cap number to around $35 million and the base number to $15 million.
On the other hand, if NHL revenues grow down the road, the upper limit on payroll would rise accordingly.
In the end, the payroll range would be altered year-by-year depending on revenues.
The two sides would also need to agree on what constitutes revenue - no small hurdle.
A payroll tax is also likely to be included in the middle of the payroll range, further discouraging some teams from spending.
For the league to buy into the model, it's believed the $20-million gap between the base and upper limit would have to be reduced somewhat.
Depending on how today's talks went, the board of governors the following day may or may not formalize plans for the use of replacement players.
Daly, commissioner Gary Bettman and outside counsel Bob Batterman were expected to be joined at the talks Tuesday by New Jersey Devils CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello, board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold.
NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow was to head his side alongside Saskin, associate counsel Ian Pulver and outside counsel John McCambridge. NHLPA president Trevor Linden was not expected to be at the meeting.

nhl- CBA Meeting Finished

from Sportsnet, Good dialogue, no progress.

nhl- CBA Talks Update

Talks today are centered on the proposal the PA brought up on April 4th. Both revenue sharing and luxury tax are being talked about today. Both sides working at a cap number for the upcoming season and the revenue % figure.
At least they are talking. As of 20 minutes ago, talks were still ongoing.

nhl- No Word on CBA Meeting

Just wanted to let everyone know, as soon as I get some information on the outcome of the CBA meeting, it will be posted.

update 4:28pm, all quiet on the CBA front.

nhl- Today's CBA Meeting

Team 590 Radio in Toronto reporting the CBA meeting will start shortly after noon today.

nhl- Bettman Losing Support

from Slam, As National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman frantically tries to find a way to end his lockout, he is discovering that the island on which he stands is steadily eroding.
He doesn't have the support of the NHL Players' Association and he's losing support among the owners.
The players continue to say, as they have said for years, that the burden for supporting the less wealthy teams should not fall totally upon their backs.
The PA's stance is that if the league wants a partnership with the players, it must have a partnership among the owners. In other words, it needs increased revenue sharing.
These days, Bettman is trying to get some of the rich teams to agree to this concept. That's why he rolled into Toronto last Friday to meet with the entire board of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd., not just a couple of members as had been initially suggested.
But the rich teams, who supported Bettman's grand strategy of shutting down for a year to try to get the players to pay the bills, are not as supportive of a concept that would see them having to assume part of the burden themselves...read on...

nhl- Strong Teams helping Weak Teams

from the torontostar(reg. req.), Another set of meetings, another wave of optimism that a solution to the NHL mess might be at hand.
The guess here is that a deal gets done soon, only if the NHL has run out of gas and is prepared to concede. Without any urgency for the players, we all understand Bob Goodenow won't be putting anything close to a best offer forward anytime before August, so the lockout only ends before then if influential owners revolt or business pressures such as television demands or restless sponsors push Gary Bettman to make a deal.
Refreshingly, the plot has at least shifted slightly in recent days, with two items now seen as particularly sexy going into today's "bargaining" session and tomorrow's board of governors meeting in New York.
Those would be the concept of replacement players, primarily, closely followed by the notion of an extensive revenue-sharing system to be instituted by the 30 franchises that like to call themselves partners but generally behave as if they are nothing of the sort.
In a very real way, teams in outstanding hockey cities are going to be penalized in order to help clubs in towns where the hockey community barely has a pulse.
Suffocate the strong to help the weak.
That might, over time, produce a better NHL. It's hard to say.
rest of the story is how the Leafs will look in this scenario...

nhl- Bill Daly- "NHLPA in Stall Mode"

from the Ottawa Sun, NHL VP Bill Daly accused the NHLPA last night of being in "stall mode" and issued a warning to the union that it should get working on a new CBA or the deal will only get worse for players. While the two sides made progress during a meeting April 4, Daly said today's session in New York -- which will include NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union boss Bob Goodenow -- must have a sense of urgency from the players.
Sources say if the two sides aren't able to come up with a framework for a deal, the league will push ahead with the National Labour Relations Board to declare an impasse and bring in replacement workers.
"I don't really know what to expect," Daly told the Sun in an e-mail. "But it would certainly appear (Goodenow) is back in stall mode. We'll see. The players have to understand no matter how much pressure he thinks the clubs are under, the deal only gets worse for the players. Everybody else sees that. I don't know why he doesn't seem to."
"If anything is stalling these negotiations it is the NHL's one-track approach," NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said in a statement. "In our upcoming meetings we shall see whether Bettman is prepared to negotiate something other than the one position he has been advocating for the last three years ... which led us to the lockout and cancellation of one full season already."
continued...

nhl- Talks Centered on Revenue Sharing

from the Canadian Press, The NHL lockout will be front and centre in New York this week with labour talks resuming today followed by a board of governors meeting tomorrow. Both could go a long way toward deciding what's next for the locked-out league.
Much of what the owners discuss tomorrow will be decided in large part by what transpires today in the latest collective bargaining session with the NHL Players' Association.
"I really don't know what to expect," NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly said. "Hopefully what we talked about in the last hour of the last meeting will lead to further negotiation and possibly a framework down the road."
The two sides last met April 4 in Toronto when the union introduced a concept that could have some appeal to the league side.
NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said he hoped to continue discussion of that concept, which could bridge the gap between the two sides' positions.
"Of equal importance is a discussion on whether the NHL is prepared to move in the direction of having a real revenue sharing program," Saskin said. "We are certainly looking forward to hearing what they have developed in this area."
The NHLPA introduced a floating team-by-team payroll range that has a lower and upper limit linked to league revenues. Based on last season's revenues of $2.1 billion US, the upper salary cap would be $50 million per team, with a minimum base of $30 million.
But the cap changes depending on revenues. Given that revenues are expected to take a major hit because of the damage from wiping out an entire season, the cap figure will likely be lower. If, say, revenues are $1.5 billion the first season back, the union plan would lower the upper cap number to around $35 million and the base number to $15 million.
On the other hand, if NHL revenues grow down the road, the upper limit on payroll would rise accordingly.
In the end, the payroll range would be altered year-by-year depending on revenues.
The two sides would also need to agree on what constitutes revenue -- no small hurdle.
A payroll tax is also likely to be included in the middle of the payroll range, further discouraging some teams from spending.
For the league to buy into the model, it's believed the $20-million gap between the base and upper limit would have to be reduced somewhat.

Monday, April 18, 2005

nhl- Last Resort- Replacement Players

from Kevin Allen of USA Today, Almost everyone around the NHL views replacement players as an undesirable option, but team officials seemed resigned to the belief that it could end up being a painful last resort to force a resolution to the lockout.
"Nobody wants replacement players," said Dallas Stars President Jim Lites. "But if this is the only way to get this thing resolved, then everyone wants them."
The league and the NHL Players Association will negotiate Tuesday, although there is no indication that the two sides are close to an agreement. On Wednesday, the board of governors will meet in New York. No decision about replacements is expected to be made then, but it seems likely that the topic will be discussed.
"The use of replacement players is one of a number of potential business alternatives the clubs may have at their disposal in the event a new (labor agreement) cannot be agreed to with the union," Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer, said in an e-mail. "Our primary objective and desire, however, is to get back to the bargaining table and to get a deal with our players."...continued...