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Industry insider: “We will not play next year”

Jul 16, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT

Empty NHL arena Getty Images

The NHL’s first offer in its negotiations with the NHLPA was seen by many as a shot across the union’s bow. And with the league reportedly asking for a considerably larger split in hockey-related revenue from the players, the elimination of signing bonuses, as well as a salary rollback, predictions of a work stoppage are growing in number.

In fact, one source with knowledge of the players’ side of the negotiation is predicting not just a work stoppage, but an entire lost season.

“Last time around, the NHL made its salary cap proposal and barely moved off it,” the source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told PHT. “This is not an initial proposal. The league is shutting down and it’s ‘come back when you’re ready to accept.’

“This is exactly what happened last time. You heard it here first, we will not play next year.”

Granted, that’s just one opinion.

For most, it remains hard to imagine another lost season after the entire 2004-05 schedule was wiped out due to a lockout. Could the league and union really let it happen again?

It’s also still very early in the negotiations. The current collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until Sept. 15, and we’re only in July.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly declined to comment on the above.

  1. hockeyflow33 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    Not buying it. Both sides stand to lose far more now than they did several years ago.

    • dolphincult - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      You are correct that they have far more to lose like the support of what were once hard core fans that grew up on the game which tolerated the last lockout (even though it didnt protract the number of teams which has given us this watered down crappy modern hockey). The only way a lockout wont lose the support of middle aged canadian men is if struggling franchises disappear and the overall product is improved by removing AHL level players from the NHL.

  2. scottymcss - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Why does this source feel compelled to say “you heard it here first” while insisting to remain anonymous? I think we just found something worse than NHL trade rumor blogs. Next step: NHL CBA rumor Twitter accounts. What fun.

    • ravenscaps48 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      I was thinking the same thing… This anonymous fella must write for the Bleacher Report

      • freneticgarfieldfan - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:40 AM

        …or he is best friend with Eklund from HockeyBuzz :-D

    • crosberries - Jul 16, 2012 at 5:31 PM

      We will play next year! You heard it here first. Signed- anonymous

  3. tmoore4075 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Agree with hockeyflow33. They both lose if they miss any time at all let alone a full season. The owners are just throwing out a crazy offer first and players will counter and then they’ll find common ground. If the NHL misses time, especially the season, they can kiss PHX, CBJ, FLA and NSH goodbye. Maybe more teams I dunno. But fans forgave last time they won’t if you do it again. People see one offer and think the world is ending. If we don’t make any progress in the next month and a half then I’ll start to worry but I’m not worried yet. While I might not like Bettman he isn’t stupid enough to lose time and I don’t think Fehr is that stupid either.

    • icdogg - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      That’s not an “opening offer”, it’s a declaration of war. The offer is so over-the-top disrespectful that it can not be seriously bargained with.

      So yeah, from a players’-side point of view, it would most definitely appear that the owners want another lockout.

      • tmoore4075 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM

        You think they want another lockout? Revenues are at an all time high. They had a PHX/LA Western Final. They have a brand new tv deal that is pretty sweet and gives them great coverage. You think they want to hurt that progress? If you think they want another lockout you’re stupid. They offer everything they want to get out of the deal. You don’t come out with an offer you know they’ll accept. Because then you’ll sit there and say man I should have asked for this other thing too. You come up with everything you want knowing you won’t get it all.

        Could there be a lockout? Sure of course. Do the owners want one? No way.

  4. bcjim - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    Seems stupid of the owners now that, with NBC SC they were actually getting some decent air time. WTF are they thinking? Are things that bad for them?

  5. lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Buncha stubborn, stupid children if this is the case. They’re already making it sound like “working together” and “compromise” are concepts they’re unfamiliar with. Ah well, I’ll just find something else to waste my time on if they’re still locked out come winter.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      Bettman has overseen two work stoppages. Fehr has overseen one. They’re not just making it sound like they’re unfamiliar with those concepts, I’m pretty sure they actually have no idea what they are.

  6. tfaltin - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    I find this first “offer” ridiculously frustrating. The NHL took a huge hit after the last lockout, and common sense would tell you that maybe both sides would be more rational in wanting to work together and get a deal done quickly and without the drama of the NFL’s and NBA’s recent CBA agreements. Instead, the awful leadership of the NHL owners throws out this piece of garbage proposal, after having multiple discussions with the union already. What does this unreasonable proposal accomplish? If the owners dig their heels in the sand on these issues I don’t think anyone will be on their side if the season is lost. The NHL finally has some momentum, and it doesn’t need any negative publicity right now, but I guess some owners felt like they needed to puff their chest out. What a joke. An agreement doesn’t need to be decided in the last hour. The whole negotiating process is pathetic.

  7. lsxphotog - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    I feel like this was a hissy fit by someone who didn’t like the way things were moving. They’re called negotiations for a reason…this BS doesn’t sound in any way professional.

  8. esracerx46 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    “you heard it here first”….Where have I heard that before??? Sounds Like an Ecklund rumor…Is that an E3 or E4? I for one have to believe that “offer” by NHL teams thats being reported is a joke. Not a chance in hell that more than half the league voluntarily just put themselves over the cap thus forcing them to hide players somewhere other than the nhl

    • freneticgarfieldfan - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      “Sounds Like an Ecklund rumor…” – I agree. Not worth to think about it.

  9. jl9830 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    As a paying customer, they’d better play. Hockey in American will not survive a second lockout in a ten year span; it’s not nearly popular enough. They still haven’t recovered even close to every fan they lost because of the last lockout. If these idiots can’t keep a league running without having to lockout a season every time they need to negotiate something, then they should disband.

    • jl9830 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      *America

      • tfaltin - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:58 AM

        ‘Merika*

      • ravenscaps48 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM

        Muricah!

  10. icdogg - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Another lockout? They just had one. FML.

    If they don’t want to stretch their budgets too far I suggest they stop signing guys like Matt Carle to 33M contracts. Is it really necessary to lower the cap to prevent them from being idiots?

  11. myspaceyourface - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    I hope it doesn’t come to this. For being such smart people, why do they have to be so stupid.

  12. tmoore4075 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Again don’t worry yet. It’s an initial offer. You go for a homerun. What do you expect them to do? Give the perfect deal from the start? They are going to offer what they would love knowing they won’t get it all. Players will then do the same. They find common ground. It’s not the end of the world…yet.

    • tfaltin - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      I think it was more similar to a super-senior bully trying to take a freshman’s lunch money than a homerun. It screams lack of respect. Roll back salary cap around $15 million, decrease the amount of money the players get and eliminate signing bonuses? What’s wrong with TRYING to be realistic and see the other side. How about: We will keep the salary cap as it stands, but we want to put a strict limit on signing bonuses, and shift increase the percent of the earnings to the owners. That sounds like an actual starting point that would probably not be agreed to but could at least generate conversation. Why would you want to talk to the punk who wants to rob you of your money and use it to wine and dine your girlfriend?

      • tmoore4075 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM

        The cap is way too high for the small markets. It also puts teams in a position to have to spend because you have to reach the floor and you know the big teams will spend to the cap so if you want to compete you have to spend. As a fan of a bigger market team I like the cap space but it hurts the other team. The bonuses are such a small thing in the grand scheme of things.

        I don’t have a problem with long contracts. It’s a risk to both sides let them deal with the consequences. If they don’t do the average of the contract and say they must be paid the same each year that would stop the super long ones by themselves right there. The last few years of these contracts are add ons right now and if you made the teams pay the 7mil cap hit the last few years they wouldn’t be adding them on. The longest you’d see would probably be 8 years or so.

        The entry level deals makes sense too. Would help teams rebuilding if they didn’t have to give big contracts to guys after 3 years.

        The percentage I think will end up around 50-50. Which I think I read puts the cap closer to 60mil or just over.

  13. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    Scare tactics?

  14. danphipps01 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    What he isn’t factoring in is that Bettman, the GMs, the NHLPA and for that matter, everyone of importance regrets the lockout. It was a lot of lost money and time for nothing, and as much as they want a bigger slice of the profits, they’d sooner compromise than get nothing at all for another year. Nobody wants to lose another season. It just plain costs too much to be worth it.

    • icdogg - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:28 AM

      Because some of these owners are troglodytes who care more about breaking the union than they do about making money?

  15. dbarnes79 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    They better not miss even one game! This league can’t afford anymore work stoppages!!

  16. jacketsfan7 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Well play next year

  17. mrpigs - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Lock us out again and kiss us goodbye!

    -NHL Fanbase

  18. williplett - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    The spin placed on the season killing 2004-05 lockout was that it was needed to save the the league and the pro game. Personally, I saw it as an embarrassment of titanic proportions that the league failed to award the Cup for the first time in the modern era and for the first time overall since the influenza epidemic of 19-freaking-19. What would it say about all concerned if it happened again, less than a decade later?

    The credibility and respect all those associated with the NHL game-from the owners to the players to the fans-have tried so hard to grow and continue for the better part of a century could be lost. To vast chunks of sports fans across the United States, the league is an irrelevant also ran that lets it’s franchises move around like roller derby teams and makes an easy punch line for jokes. Allowing another season to be lost while one group of wealthy people fights with an even wealthier group of people over how to split up the money could be devastating.

    I’ve gotta believe cooler heads will prevail. These days there are so many entertainment alternatives that even fewer casual fans will come back after a season killing work stoppage and some principled hard core fans might find two seasons lost in a decade too much to overlook. And, if there is another season killed, can we all work together to see that one simple demand is met: the end of Gary Bettman as comish? Fool me once, Gary…

    • rainyday56 - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      “the league is an irrelevant also ran that lets it’s franchises move around like roller derby teams”

      You mean like the Oakland/LA/Oakland Raiders? Cleveland/LA/St. Louis Rams? Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts? Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cards/Cardinals? Cleveland/Baltimore Browns/Ravens? Jacksonville/(your choice of city) Jaguars?

      • williplett - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        People can-and do-make jokes about the NFL on a regular basis, but irrelevance and franchise movement is not the reason for those jokes. Five NHL franchises have moved in the last twenty years- including one last year-and the Coyotes were taken over by the NHL. Not to mention that three NHL franchises have filed for bankruptcy during the last twenty years, as well.

        Nice try.

  19. norseman81 - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    “you heard it here first” I hate this comment. Everyone wants credit for predicting if something will happen. If you are not breaking a story or betting on said topic…who cares! I think the NHL and PA know they will lose millions of fans if a season is lost.

  20. jrsaffell - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    I stopped watching NHL hockey until last season because of the last lockout. It took some monumental effort from a close friend of mine to get me back into the game. Without a doubt another lockout will send me away from the NHL permanently.

  21. rekingcrew - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Go ahead, shut it down.

  22. sergeikremlin - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    The owners’ first offer represents nothing more than psychological warfare and negotiation tactics.

  23. mclovinhockey - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Here’s a good idea, if the owners want to stop losing money… Sell the team. The only teams that lose money are the ones whose fan bases are not strong enough to help them out but buying jerseys and selling out every game. Unless the NHL plans to rig another Crosby lottery to give one to all the teams that are going bankrupt like they did last lockout, then they should just move the teams north… If you can’t hit cap floor with your income you should not have a team.

  24. chiadam - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Not even the NHL is dumb enough to lose two seasons in eight years. What would they come back to? The league would collapse. For good. Is Bettman really dumb enough to hold out for 57% of 1/20th the 2011 revenue?
    OK, he probably is. But someone on the NHL side must have a working brain.

  25. jimw81 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Welcome to NHL owners tatics inwhich there is zero accountability for there mistakes so they do every possible to make up their own mistakes. If they do shut down and some teams dissolve, might be better product after all. How Can bettman keep his job after a third lockout?

  26. rockthered1286 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Here’s how I think:
    Not that it’s the same thing given no salary cap in baseball, but look at a team like the Tampa Rays in MLB. They don’t spend. They can’t. Their fan base is horrendous. The money is simply not there. But they are constantly contending. Why? Fantastic scouts, great drafts, and taking risks on players. So why is it that “smaller market teams” would whine about not getting a fair shake because they can’t spend to the cap? Are they smaller market because they were plopped in a small city like Tampa? Not necessarily. To me it seems more like a fanbase unwilling to attend, an owner unwilling to spend, and lack of talent which comes back to the coach staff, scouts, etc. So should the entire NHL and the teams that can hit the cap ceiling suffer solely because a few small market owners can’t make it work? If that’s the issue then maybe sell the team to someone who can handle it. And if that’s unfathmoable because you think the market is the issue not the owner than move the team to a major city where that won’t be an issue (there’s a handful out there worth pursuing, including Baltimore!) If that ends up being a major reason the NHL pushed towards another lockout, I’m done. I’ll find a KHL channel somewhere in the 1000+ channels DirectTV gives me…

  27. hockeyfan28 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Duh, you don’t have to have an MBA to know this “source” is tied to Bettman to get more player concessions it’s negotiations 101. He’s gotta earn that 10 million dollar a year salary the owners a shelling out to him for doing something. Next tactic will be from ties to the player reps who will say we’ve made progress but still have some hurdles to overcome….then you’ll have a breakdown in talks because insiders with direct knowledge of the negotiations (cough Bettmans’s guys) say their to far apart on major sticking points and nothing will get resolved till the fall.

  28. lonespeed - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Cindy Crosby will cry about anything won’t she…

  29. comeonnowguys - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Well, clearly Donald Fehr was hired with the long-term best interests of the sport in mind…

  30. scionofflame - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    As with any negotiations, you start with what you want and both sides haggle. Chill out, folks. There’s no ‘declaration of war’, and there’s no guarantee of a lockout. There’s a hell of a lot of time left for the two sides to meet and talk, trade offers and come to a decision.

    Too early to panic, and too early to start calling the NHL and the Owners a bunch of ‘Monsters’ or ‘lockout mongers’. Relax.

  31. paledevil - Jul 16, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Any reduction of % reduces cap space… The Wild thing may never happen goes down to 52 and it wont be best player lines but cost effective lines

  32. ray2013 - Jul 16, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    I grew up on hockey. Watching on tv. Listening to it on the radio if we were going somewhere. Talking to friends about it. Now I read hockey articles in the middle of summer. But after the lockout, I gave up watching hockey for three years.

    If they lose another season, I’m just going to quit watching hockey. I’m sure there are other sports to follow. Lacrosse maybe? Lots of scoring, lots of fights. I’m sure they’d appreciate new fans.

  33. cardsandbluesforever - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Bettman couldnt possibly be dumb enough to let it happen again.

    Meanwhile in Russia, KHL officials and team owners are drooling….

  34. northstars17 - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    haha yeah right! but if they are serious…

    ill just go watch Fort Wayne Komets hockey in the ECHL!

  35. goon48 - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    What I do think is funny that no one else has reported this story, so have to wonder if Ecklund is the source?

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