Sunday, July 15, 2012

A game of chicken

Courtesy National Hockey League
Guess we now know why Glen Sather has not been trying all that hard to sign a big-time free agents for the New York Rangers. By now you may have heard that some of the key points of the NHL's first offer to the NHLPA for a new collective bargaining agreement have been leaked out.

I'm not going to kid myself into believing that somebody had intended on getting this information out to the world on purpose. It's kind of hard to believe that the NHL owners would be that foolish to have this kind of offer leaked to the hockey world.

At the same time while NHL players are not going to get much sympathy from the hockey fans over the cost of their salaries; they too would not gain much from this kind of information being made public.

It really is hard to take this first offer seriously, but if it is the starting point for the NHL owners then it looks more like they need help from themselves then the players.

The NHL reportedly once the lower the revenue split that players receive a 57% to 46%. The money experts say it is a shift of something in the area of 300 million.

If I was in charge of the NHL players union; the very first thing I would respond with would be to ask to look at the accounting ledgers of all 30 NHL teams and the National Hockey League as a whole.

The NHL owners don't even want to let their fellow owners look at their own books. So don't expect this to sit very well with the NHL owners.

Second interesting key point to me was the demand that contracts be limited to no more than 5 seasons. I call this the "we are unable to control our spending so we need you to do it for us" demand.

If the NHL owners can't say to their general managers not to give out 12 to 13 year contracts, then something's wrong if it has to be part of a collective bargaining agreement.

How did some of these NHL owners earn their original fortunes in the first place? What is it about the NHL that turns these owners into bungling spoiled children unable to control themselves?

Why does the NHLPA have to be the ones who keep the owners and general managers from making bad decisions? Show me the first player who said "I will only sign with you unless you give me an obscene amount of money with a totally insane lifetime contract"?

How should any fan take the NHL seriously when they cry their tales of woe?

The NHL wants to extend entry level cotracts to 5 years instead of 3. They want to eliminate arbitration completely and force players to play for 10 seasons before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency.

There is not one single reason for the owners to ask for any of this as they already are getting the better end of the deal as it is. So what if a player ends his ELC after 3 seasons because he has zero leverage for another 1-2 years in contract talks anyway.

Don't even get me started on Pretend Free Agency AKA restricted free agency as it is worthless to the players. Arbitration really is tilted for the owners as they can refuse to accept any award unless they are the ones who elect arbitration.

There would be some GMs who will not be happy losing a chance to reduce a NHL player to tears in less than 45 minutes if they get rid of arbitration. The NHL is wanting to go hardline here and the only ones they will hurt will be themselves.

This time they are giving Don Fehr all the ammo he needs to unite all the players because there is something in this offer to screw over every player. On the other hand you are going to see owners like the Dolans who are spending their own money fixing up the Garden and would not like empty dates.

Don Fehr will cause an NHL owner's Civil War by offering proposals that will help the smaller market teams while robbing from the bigger market ones. The fans will turn not just on the players this time because there are NHL fans sick of reading about ownership problems in Phoenix and New Jersey, the Islanders and their arena problem.

The fans will see 3.3 billion in revenue and wonder why it costs more to attend games because in 2004 the NHL claimed they locked out the players to keep ticket prices down.

Ask Ranger fans how much of that is true? And how many will recall how long the owners held on to season ticket money during the lock out?

Of course there is a positive to seeing the NHL owners get their butts kicked by Don Fehr. They will fire Gary Bettman in a second if they lose to the players in the CBA.

That would be a good thing for hockey, seeing Bettman lose at a game of chicken

No comments: