"We were on a break"

The NHL and the NHLPA have reached somewhat of an impasse in their CBA negotiations (again), so the heads of both sides did the logical thing in a situation like that: they got on the phone. Now, since we’re talking logical, guess how they decided to “un-stick” the process. Did they:

A) Talk through the issues on the phone

B) Decide to hold an informal meeting to try to find their direction

C) Organize more formal talks

D) Finally decide to use a mediator, or

E) Decide discussing the new CBA is stupid and for jerks and things will fix themselves if they just take two weeks off talking entirely?

I think you know the answer.

In fairness to Donald Fehr, when he called Bettman to express that he still wasn’t sure how to fix the current jam, it was the NHL boss who suggested the hiatus: let’s take a two week break. Maybe things will fix themselves in that time?

Fehr is taking Bettman’s proposal to the union, so feel free to note that that means the current discussions involve discussing whether or not they should discuss things. Discuss.

Let’s dissect the quotes (as first seen from The Canadian Press) from the #2′s on each side about the situation. First up, Bill Daly:

“We are extremely disappointed in where we and the players find ourselves.

You’re not alone.

And from our perspective, we have made repeated moves in the players’ direction with absolutely no reciprocation.

Repeated moves in the players’ directions? How can that be said with a straight face?

Owners: “We’d like to give you no percent of the revenue.”

Players: “Pass.”

Owners: “15%?”

Players: “No.”


Just as a quick reminder, the Players latest offer was to accept less than they were receiving under the last CBA, meaning they’re the ones offering to move in the owners’ direction. And as another reminder, the majority of the owners did just fine under that deal.

Unfortunately, we have determined we are involved with union leadership that has no genuine interest in reaching an agreement.

Nope. They just want to keep on not playing and not earning money and not having a chance at the Stanley Cup. No genuine interest. They’re loving this unemployed shit.

Regardless of what we propose, or how we suggest to compromise the answer is “no.”

Owners: “30%?”

Players: “No. Can we get serious here soon?”

Owners: “SO. STUBBORN.”

At some point you just have to say “enough is enough.” But I’m more discouraged now than I have been at any point in the process.”

Aw, your poor feelings. We feel terrible.

What did Steve Fehr have to say?

“We believe that it is more likely that we will make progress if we meet than if we don’t.


So we are ready to meet.

Good. No break then?

If indeed they do not want to meet, it will be at least the third time in the last three months that they have shut down the dialogue, saying they will not meet unless the players meet their preconditions.

“Pre-condition: we demand ample quantities of lox at all meetings. Bill Daly barely even gotta any last time, you guys.”

What does that tell you about their interest in resolving this?”

That they would prefer to, but want to milk as much money out of the players as feasibly possible, and they know that pushing the talks closer to another “drop dead date” for the season will increase the pressure on the players, who will have missed more paychecks and started fearing the loss of an entire season more, which most of the owners don’t give a shit about because they’re still going to be just hanging out, being rich. …Am I close?

It’s a pretty transparent suggestion from the owners, from where I’m sitting.

At least now when it’s all said and done and the players return to North America they can justify choosing to play for other clubs by explaining, as Ross did to Rachel “WE WERE ON A BREAK.”



My question: how is it conceivable one side thinks the other is bluffing at this point? You’ll both torch the season if necessary. We know.

Comments (13)

  1. “At least now when it’s all said and done and the players return to North America they can justify choosing to play for other clubs…” this is like people in the US switching cell phone carriers. I’ll show AT&T, I’m moving to Verizon! Meanwhile just as many Verizon people are moving to AT&T. In the end, the owners won’t give a crap, they’ll just take on another team’s disgruntled players. When they open a checkbook the players will come.

    Recchi said it best to the players: Make a deal, any deal, and you will get paid in the end (because the owners and GM’s will find the new loophole to overpay middling players) and in 5 years we’ll be back here again, but the players will have made out like bandits.

    Ask the bakers union today how their victory over Hostess went? They’re all out of work, but hey, they broke those owners!!

    • That’s an apples and oranges comparison, as are pretty much all pro sports to real world scenarios. Hostess doesn’t have 3+ billion in revenues to speak of. Hostess isn’t coming off a period of record growth and wild, drunken sailor spending as recently as a few months ago and now crying the financial blues. Somebody else will by the Hostess name/assets and find a way to make it profitable using other employees and a different business model. The employee is not the product in the case of Hostess.

      The players will draw a check for playing pro hockey, if not for the NHL then from some other owners in some other league. That’s the way it is when you have a globally marketable commodity……….in this case NHL caliber hockey talent. The NHL can certainly try to use replacements but they would find that their revenues, in addition to the respectability of their brand, would be greatly diminished. That’s a lesson the NFL learned very quickly when they tried doing that.

      • Oh please tell me you’re proposing that the players start their own league. Please, please, please.

        Otherwise, where are they going? The fact of the matter is they can certainly go elsewhere, but they’ll be doing so at significantly reduced salaries. The type of reduction that would make a 24% clawback look like a powerball ticket.

  2. Anyone who still supports the owners 100% after reading this obviously doesn’t get it. Such a shame this is killing our game…

  3. Concede the greed

  4. Sorry JB, but this post is full of garbage. Fehr and the PA have shown no willingness to budge from their position, it’s been the same proposals from them over and over. From the moment he was hired the writing was on the wall, he’s there to get revenge for the perceived loss in 2005, not to make a deal. The NHL has moved considerably from both their original offer and the previous CBA. I’m not sure why you feel the need to paint the offers as some lowball garbage (15%? Really?) but I guess it’s easier to make a slanted post using misinformation.

    Now before you tar me with the pro-owner brush I will certainly admit that they have dug their heels in quite firmly on certain points, and barring movement there a deal won’t happen, so there’s certainly blame to be placed there as well. As I’ve said elsewhere, neither side seems to want to make a deal now, they want to screw each other more than anything, and in a very uncomfortable place.

    This 2 week moratorium is an attempt to show the PA that any perceived owner side breaking points in terms of timing simply don’t exist. It says that if you’re goal is to wait us out you’re going to lose. As you said, one side may lose more in total dollars but they already have many times that amount and the ability to continue to earn over the long term. The other side, with a few exceptions, has an incredibly small window in which to be paid handsomely and are seeing a large chunk of it washed away.

    • x2. Blame both sides. Everything they do is planned posturing. If you honestly think that everything both sides do isn’t planned you are being very naive. The players have not moved off their basic premise and neither have the owners. The only thing they sorta kinda agree on is 50/50. Yeah, that is great, but they are not even close to agreeing on what they are spliiting 50/50.

      Sorry, when the NHL wanted to open talks over a year ago and the PA pushed it off until this past summer, it was pretty much pre-ordained this season would be in the tank.

    • RC, the owners haven’t budged on anything in the players’ direction. Literally everything in the owners’ offer, just like last time, has been taking from players. The original owners offer was insulting and he knew it had no shot at being accepted, but what he didn’t realize is how badly it would piss off the players and steel their resolve.

      Here is the strategy of the owners’ original proposal: Owners want 50/50 split, which means the players have to come down 7% from the current arrangement. So they make an absurd initial offer of a 43-57 split in their own favor. Then, in a subsequent proposal, they offer 50/50 (their original target destination) and publicly claim they have come off their original offer by 7%, and now the players should be willing to come down 7%……arriving at the magic number of 50/50 that they wanted all along. Gary thought it was a slick piece of bargaining, and maybe previous opponents would have bought such an obvious deception. But Gary has now realized that Fehr is a far better negotiator than anybody he’s ever dealt with. And Gary now realizes he’s in way over his head.

      And hmmmm……..2 weeks off. That puts us right at the announced target date for canceling more games. Gary is amusing, i’ll give him that. I hope this lockout does go on and cancel the season, I’m having too much fun seeing Gary practically reduced to tears after each session. I can watch hockey plenty of other places.

      • @ David, the thing you, and people who take your position, seem to be missing is that the market has changed. 50/50 is market. Look at where the NBA landed. Look at where the NFL landed. You want to live in a world where the market doesn’t exist, where all that’s relevant is the previous CBA. That’s complete and utter nonsense.

        Giving Fehr credit as a negotiator is hilarious. He hasn’t negotiated a thing. All he’s done is cost his constituency 3 checks they will never receive. Dollars that most players will never recover. And I guarantee you that the deal eventually reached will not return those dollars.

        • Of course, I see it now, if there isn’t a market agreement’ CBA then there must be a lockout!

          Of course, the NFL missed zero (none, nil) of their regular season and they have a 10-year CBA. I was rooting against the NBA because I am only 5’6″ but they agreed anyway.

          Bettman isn’t negotiating, he is issuing a series of ultimatums based on the NFL and NBA agreements. Baseball’s Fehr is giving madison-ave answers. This isn’t about hockey at all.

          Concede the greed

          • Huh? 50/50 is market, any notion that the players are giving anything up to move to 50/50 is garbage, anything 2-3 points either way from that is the starting point, and that number is pretty much the inevitable deal point. Trying to argue that moving from the previous CBA to current market is a concession is ludicrous, the market has changed so the negotiation changes. You don’t set starting points based on where you were 7 years ago, you set them on where you stand today.

    • No one needs to tar you with a pro-owner brush, you do an awesome job of it on your own.

      • It’s funny how that happens when you look at the business principles involved instead of relying upon rhetoric.

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