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Bettman: “We need to be paying out less in player costs”

Aug 9, 2012, 6:45 PM EDT

Gary Bettman Getty Images

The NHL owners won’t run the league for another year under the current agreement. They want a new CBA to replace the one that will expire on Sept. 15.

The owners have made their initial proposal and the players’ counteroffer is expected to be released Tuesday.

However, as NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr put it, there’s a “meaningful gulf” when it comes to revenue sharing.

“The biggest reason was, it seems to us that both overall and on a club-by-club basis, all of the revenue-sharing payments — both the new ones and the existing ones — would be paid for by player salary reductions,” Fehr said, according to an ESPN report.

Meanwhile, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that “we need to be paying out less in player costs.”

“That’s something that while revenue sharing has been an important part of the existing collective bargaining agreement, we intend to have it going forward in an enhanced way,” Bettman added. “Revenue sharing isn’t the key element. It’s an element that has to be dealt with, but the fundamental economics need to be dealt with first.”

The players’ union and league are expected to meet at least three times next week.

  1. scionofflame - Aug 9, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    …If there is another lockout, I will demand Bettman’s head on a pike. These men deserve to be paid. Deal with it.

    • pennywise79 - Aug 9, 2012 at 7:54 PM

      *when, it appears to me :-\

    • nolockoutpricks - Aug 10, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      do you stupid people not get it hes just representing the owners and how they feel.

      • paperlions - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:20 PM

        No, the don’t. Commissioners of sport leagues don’t make decisions. They enact the will of the owners and absorb the criticism of fans/media so that it isn’t directed at the teams. Punching bag is pretty much the commissioner’s job.

  2. canuckinamerica - Aug 9, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    See you in January.

  3. tfaltin - Aug 9, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Last lockout I wasn’t old enough to know where to place blame, but so far during these negotiations the owners have put forth a ridiculous proposal, and declared that they will not have a season unless there is an agreement in the next month. So, they’ve created a wider canyon than what existed before, and they’re not being flexible on the time-frame. I am 100% behind the players, and if there is a lockout, Bettman himself better run to the KHL, and the owners will be entirely culpable in my eyes.

  4. mclovinhockey - Aug 9, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Yeah, hockey, the only full contact sport plays more than 16 games a year, but let’s pay each player 1/20th of what every other pro sport player makes.
    Gary is a moron and a joke, get teams out of cities like nj, Phx and other places that just lose money an move them NORTH so every team will make a profit. Then stop procrastinating on the damn CBA and start working on fixing the problem a year in advance.

    • elemeno89 - Aug 9, 2012 at 8:09 PM

      kind of weird. only half of what you said makes sense… don’t know whether to agree or disagree so i won’t…

    • stratomaticfan - Aug 10, 2012 at 8:06 AM

      Yes the NHL players make a fraction of the other sports. Yet, their TV deals bring in a fraction of the revenue that the other 3 major sports do. If they were producing more $, they would be making more $. Just because the owners made bad deals in the past (causing teams to lose $ because players’ salaries were too high for the revenues) doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have the players give it back in order to get a deal that works to keep the league’s teams profitable. After all, the Owners got into their business to make $, not lose it. The players should be happy that they received undeserved gains in the past, but settle for fair wages (based on revenues) now.

  5. DTF31 - Aug 9, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Seems the owners are mad at themselves for front loading deals.

  6. 950003cups - Aug 9, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    They’re 11% apart. While the players would like to make more, the owners want to pay them less.

    This can cripple the growing NHL fan base. The NHLPA knows fans are paying more, and more of them are coming to games. If the NHLPA counter offer is not creative, this will surely be a lost season. If I’m making $2,000,000 a year, for 3 years, my bank account should be $6,000,000 by 2015. A lockout will make it $4,000,000. Am I’m willing to lose a year of it over 10%? My bank account will have $5,400,000 instead of $4,000,000.

    The players are screwed. They’re gonna have to take a pay cut it seems.

    The owners know it.

    NHLPA better have a creative offer.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 9, 2012 at 7:51 PM

      The players are about to get a cheque for 25% (I believe) of their salary on October 15th from the escrow last year. So they’ve got a little more staying power this time around. But that’s beside the point because I think Gary Bettman is about to soon find himself unemployed. There’s no way that owners of the major money makers like Toronto, NYR, Philly, Chicago etc are going to sit by and let him cost them another season, they’ve already watched him cost the $50 million as he moved heaven and earth to keep a team in a location where there’s absolutely no chance they’ll ever be able to make money…after he guaranteed the same owners that they wouldn’t lose a dime on the Coyotes.

      IMO right now we’re seeing a desperate man running around trying to swing for the fences again because he knows that’s the only way he can possibly save hs job.

    • tfaltin - Aug 9, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      Interesting wrinkle to this year’s situation is that the KHL is a viable alternative. They will be more than happy to give out huge contracts. You think guys like Malkin, Datsyuk, Ovechkin, Semin, Yakupov etc wouldn’t want to go back to Russia and play an offensive game with better pay? It’s at least something to consider.

      • elvispocomo - Aug 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

        While the KHL isn’t a threat to the NHL in general since North Americans can’t watch it, it could certainly take more players away from the NHL in the event of a lockout. What incentive do future superstars like Yakupov have to stay in NA when the KHL will give them big money.

        It wouldn’t be just Russians, but Europeans in general that could start to migrate that way, and the NHL would become more of a Canadan/American player base. Fans want to cheer for the best players, and if the NHL would rather force a lockout than work to keep them all intact, then that’s their own stupidity.

        To think the owners would be ok with losing superstars to the KHL without getting any assets back is a laugh too. Do you think the Oilers would be happy using their 1st overall on Yakupov knowing he would just bolt to the KHL?

    • blomfeld - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      That’s an excellent analysis … from the player’s point of view.

      However one mustn’t lose sight of who’s “really” calling the shots here … the owners. I hope it isn’t the case, but I do wonder if the owners are thinking along the lines of an NBA-styled “shortened” season which starts in December ? October and November see the lowest attendance figures in the US, as it’s by far the most “challenging” time for the NHL in terms of competing for the “sports” dollar (ie: MLB, NBA, NFL, etc). Obviously players don’t take pay cuts during this period to compensate for the lower attendances. But if they’re locked out then they don’t get payed, which is a significant savings given that they represent roughly 50% of an owners operating costs. I don’t like to think this way, but it sure does give one cause to wonder, eh ?

  7. atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 9, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    Fundamental economics would dictate that you can’t have teams in markets a where they have absolutely no chance of making money. Fundamental economics also go out the window when you have the top revenue generator making almost twice as much as the second highest revenue generator and you have 17 of 30 teams losing money with no real revenue sharing plan to make the league viable. Fundamental economics would also state that one of your owners who was crying poor in April and saying the reason they lost $5 million in 10-11 is because of player costs can’t go out and give out twin $98 million contracts.

    I’m absolutely not on the players side here but Bettman makes it very hard to agree with the owners as well.

    • blomfeld - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      “17 of 30 teams losing money” …

      I would submit to you that many of these teams are essentially “loss leaders” whose purpose is no different than extras on a movie set … they will not and cannot carry the day … yet their presence is “imperative” in-order for the stars to shine …

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:19 PM

        I was incorrect, only 12 teams made a profit in 2010-11 (although Atlanta was a money loser but the team was apparently profitable this past season which makes it team 13) half of the 12 profitable teams are the Canadian teams. Teams like the Penguins, Kings, Capitals, Sharks all lost money, so it’s not just teams that continuously lose that are losing money. But the teams that are losing the most are generally the teams in bad markets.

  8. ricepilof - Aug 9, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Im on the owners side. the players are making great money already. taking a paycut isn’t the end of the world. they still will be making millions of dollars right? lets not turn pro hockey into what pro baseball is now. overpaid athletes who get hurt all the time and going to a game you need to sell a kidney. at least that’s how it is in Boston now. tickets are outrageous and buying a couple of beers one could have bought an 18 pack in the real world.

    • hystoracle - Aug 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      I’m on the Fans side. You know the paying customers. I don’t care who fault it is or isn’t. Just get a deal done so they can play some hockey and we can enjoy the game. If there are lost games it is on both “sides” of these negotiations. Don’t come crying to us when your fan base shrinks because you decide to go the lockout route again. The game is growing.. don’t shoot yourselves in the foot because some owners don’t want to share revenue with others.

    • nolockoutpricks - Aug 10, 2012 at 7:17 PM

      how many people live in the real world where you get paid by the hour. you work at mickey D’s selling big macs you dont get more money if the company does well. you agree to that hourly rate and thats what you get. greedy pigs all of them. i hope they shut it down and never let them play again. piss off

  9. echelonmt - Aug 9, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    Love or hate his New York Businessman-first attitude, but Bettman is the reason the NHL is where it’s at post-lock out. And you may think, “Yes, he’s the reason for this and that” and list off the negative influences. But I assure you without his mindset the NHL would be floundering down where Soccer is in North America rather than arguably winning the battle with the NBA for 3rd over all.

    That said, comparing the CBA percentages to other sports – the amount being relegated to player funding is something nuts like 70 percent compared to around 50 percent for other sports. Everyone including the NHLPA should have assumed that that number would have to come down. So if the player’s association fails to meet them in the middle somewhere then you can place just as much blame in their collective laps. Players are going to get paid what the players think they deserved based on one simple fact: Every year there are desperate teams willing to overpay to fill a hole. Nobody is going to get underpaid because the percentage goes from 70 to 55.

    • nyrangersnation - Aug 10, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      They are not competing with the NBA anymore. Basketball is now the 2nd most popular sport in this country. Baseball is 3rd and hockey is far and away the 4th. Yes he’s brought advancements such as the Winter Classic and a better All-Star game. However, his TV Deal was a fluke (there’s no way he knew NBC-Comcast was going to buy the Outdoor Life Network and thus create a deal with the NHL). He’s put team in horrible market, he’s locked out the players and the fans twice and probably now a third time and at horrible moments. The first was after the Rangers won so you tuned out all the fans you gained from their run. Now you’ll lock out after the Kings won the Cup? That’s a horrible business decision. If he locks out again, I can’t imagine a large company like NBC, ESPN, Fox, ABC, etc offering them a fair TV Deal. You’ll also lose the bandwagon fans you got last year and it’ll be that much harder to get them in. He went way too far with his first proposal. In my opinion, he should’ve went with this or this the deal I think he should make:

      1. Player revenue cut from 56% to 52%
      2. Salary Arbitration stays
      3. Contract limits to 10 years.
      4. Entry-level deals have a possible 4th year instead of capping it at 3. So a player can be signed to a3 or 4 year entry-level deal

      I understand that this seems like A LOT of player concession but there’s a lot of issues we don’t really know specifics on that can be favored towards the players.

      • hystoracle - Aug 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM

        “Basketball is now the 2nd most popular sport” — ESPN has a lot to do with that. It’s all they ever talk about. Hockey hitched it’s wagon to NBC and it’s new Sports Network. I like the wall to wall hockey on NBC-SN but it doesn’t get the same exposure as the NBA does on the multitude of ESPN channels.

  10. captaincanuck84 - Aug 9, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    If the owners “have to paying less in player costs”, how about they actually show some fiscal restraint when signing players instead of going bananas all the time and then crying about their stupidity everytime the CBA expires.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 9, 2012 at 11:24 PM

      You mean like an onwer doing an interview in April saying that his team is losing money because of high player costs than giving out twin $98 million dollar contracts to two players who aren’t amongst the top 5 at their respective positions? Something tells me the teams that are making plenty of money are going to have a hard time feeling sorry for him in this case.

  11. sabatimus - Aug 9, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    The owners are paying out tons in deals to players, and then they’re apparently looking toward their commissioner to bail them out. Sounds like AIG to me.

  12. flyeredup202 - Aug 10, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    I feel that the players are 100% in the right on this one, Like the comment above the teams are doing this to themselves. If Gms and owners were not throwing massive amounts of money at the players this would not be an issue. The players cant pay themselves, there was a great comic in the Hockey news last month. The title was Nhl Owners, when dealing with the players during: the first picture was during CBA talks. and the gm is holding out a bucket with the owner behind him had a bubble over his head saying “POOR” then the second picture says: Free Agency.. with the Gm holding a bucket out dumping a pile of cash at the player and the owner standing behind him pointing his finger with a bubble saying ” POUR”

    I am a fan of a big market team, but the money that these teams throw out there at the players and then have the balls to say that they need the players to take a pay cut is a joke. I am a season ticket holder and Ill tell you this. If they cancel the season or have any type of a lock out the Flyers will never see my money again. Not in ticket sales or in merchandise, They should have learned from the prev. lock out that this sport can not handle another lock out and they need to make this work. Meet in the middle!!!

  13. eyeh8goodell - Aug 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Gotta love idiot fans who are disgusted by players ( the ones putting thier bodies on the line) wanting to make good money, and yet they’re fine with pencil pushing multi millionaire owners trying to squeeze out every dime they can to add to thier coffers. That’s what rational

  14. eyeh8goodell - Aug 10, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Gotta love idiot fans who are disgusted by players ( the ones putting thier bodies on the line) wanting to make good money, and yet they’re fine with pencil pushing multi millionaire owners trying to squeeze out every dime they can to add to thier coffers. That’s what rational people call the “Fox News Effect”.

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