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In a win-or-lose game, how can there be compromise?

Sep 14, 2012, 1:43 PM EDT

Fehr-Bettman-Getty Getty Images

Given all the flak the owners have taken (and continue to take) for signing players to big contracts with the expectation clubs will be able to claw back some of the salary under a new CBA, it’s worth asking what the players that sign the contracts are expecting from a new agreement.

Specifically, are the players worried that a new CBA will result in lost salary via rollbacks or escrow?

The Washington Times caught up with John Carlson’s agent, Paul Krepelka, after the young defenseman agreed to a six-year, $23.8 million deal with the Capitals.

So, was Carlsson worried?

“It’s part of the discussion; you have to factor it in,” said Krepelka. “But when you do extensions right now, you’ve got to deal with the rules that you’re given. These are the rules we know and we understand.

“If such a rollback or something in the future were to happen, this is something that the players understand going in and have to live with. It’s a big issue with the CBA; I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

“But if it does, then all these guys that signed extensions know it going in and are aware of it. If it happens, it happens. I don’t think it’s going to, but we’ll see.”

By the sounds of it, the players are banking on no rollbacks. This despite the NHL demanding a “reduction in real dollars” in player salaries.

And as we talked about yesterday, that seems to be the main sticking point (among the many sticking points) that has stalled negotiations.

The problem is that only one side can win it. Either players’ salaries go down and the owners win, or players’ salaries don’t go down and the union wins.

Heels. Commence digging in.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie asked NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about this yesterday in New York:

“As long as the players insist on not taking a tangible reduction from $1.873 billion in players’ salaries, and as long as the National Hockey League continues to look for a tangible decrease in that number…how do we solve this?”

Bettman predictably sidestepped the question, instead taking the opportunity to criticize the union’s offer.

And that’s where we’re at.


  1. jimw81 - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    it goes to lack of leadership in bettman. Bettman has not promoted effective management at the team level, and he is unwilling to admit his mistakes and walk away from them. Bettman and his side did not properly evaluate Fehr as a negotiator. He has the players at his back and has been open to them about progress. There are no back door shenanigans like last the time around. In his negotiations with MLB, Fehr has faced bigger clowns across the table than Bettman and the NHL and he has come out on top. Its going to happen again.
    The owners can’t expect that the players should give up things because of their stupidity. No one put a gun to the heads of the owners in Minnesota and told them to make outrageous offers to Suter and Parise or Nashville with Weber, and so forth. Every time you give the owners cost certainty, they destroy it themselves. The aim of the status of RFAs in the last CBA was to create cost certainty and it might have except for the fact that organizations began to run each others RFAs. If there is a mess in the NHL, its most likely due to the management of the owners.

  2. paledevil - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Now we can expect damage control from both sides…. Here is the supreme haha to the situation… To get these record revenues you have to have the ball rolling not maybes and if’s
    60 preseason games in Sept
    Oct 33 preseason 112 reg season
    Nov around 175 reg season
    avg attendence 17459
    ok now the math ……. 17459×60 17459×112 17459 x 175
    Lets say 50$ as avg price using 2010 numbers 17459 x 50=872950 872950 per night not counting anything else except prepaid tickets….
    60×872950= 52377000 Sept preseason lost ticket sales

    ok loose those games fine… Does one really think merchandise is going to magically spike once the lockout ends?? I Believe the opposite will happen a crash… The merchandise sales only comes from passion… Go past black Friday No Christmas sales…

    ok fine LOOSE THAT then its all about NBC …..

    The players insanity…. Thinking they will get back to 1.8 bil anytime soon if there is a lockout….
    The owners insanity pissing away well over 150 games the first month and then it gets worse…

    Do want you want….Both sides are NUTS

    • bcsteele - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      This is one of the best post I’ve read so far during these proceedings. The only possible thing I could add to it:

      These numbers are just a friendly reminder that the fans are what makes this league go round. And a little respect, or more for that matter, for that fact by both sides at anytime would be appreciated. For me personally, portions of my middle class income went to NHL center ice, countless jerseys (I want to say around 20 and everyone knows how much those tend to run), many other items, and of course regular season tickets.

      I guess I’ll get to have extra spending money because I’m most certainly not supporting this situation.

      • hystoracle - Sep 14, 2012 at 3:59 PM

        The players plan also includes a snap back clause after 3 years that brings the percentage back to 57%. That clause isn’t going to fly with the owners.
        IMHO, a step down to the around the 50% # the owners want over a period of time with it stabilizing there is very doable and a clever idea. And I think the owners would take that.

        Any deal needs to be 10 years long so we don’t have to go through this again for another decade.

      • tatdue - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        @hystoracle – You’re a little behind in the times there buddy, the snap back to 57% was in their first proposal…you’ve missed a bit in the last few weeks. Also I’m sorry to tell you but the owners won’t accept that offer because that’s pretty much what the players last offer was, give or take a couple of percent. The owners stand is that if the players don’t offer an immediate amount of cash back to the owners right now there won’t be any hockey – that amount being around 19% of the players current salaries according to the NHL’s last proposal…It was a wishful thought if only the owners were playing fair…

  3. bensawesomeness - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Why dont they lock the Salary Cap where it is now? The Percentage’ll go down over the next 3-6 years because (hopefully) hockey will continue to grow, and because it’s fixed, the owners get more and more of the pie.

    Keep it locked at 70 mil ( or is it 72 now? ) nobody gets a paycut. Owners get more money.

    • paperlions - Sep 14, 2012 at 5:25 PM

      You know….that is actually what the players proposed.

      • freneticgarfieldfan - Sep 14, 2012 at 6:01 PM

        they offered +2% in 2013, then +4% on top in 2014, then +6% on top in 2015, regardless of possible revenue growth.

      • paperlions - Sep 15, 2012 at 10:46 AM

        The players offered to freeze the “real dollars” they make and to walk back the % over several, didn’t they? Yes, they would make more “real dollars” each year, but a lower % of total revenue.

  4. sharksfanatic - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    While I agree that there are some major issues with some teams, most are very efficiently run. The players job is to get as much money as they can; the owners job is to control cost as much as they can. The fans pay the bills through cost of tickets, etc.
    Players need to do the math; they will lose more money by not moving off their current position. Most players have a fairly short history of playing. Losing games will cost them more money than making some concessions. Fans lose either way; through lost games or through higher ticket prices due to teams having higher cost. Owners will win in the long run.

    • hockeydon10 - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      Players have moved, just as the NHL has.

      Where do people get this idea that the players are sticking to their original proposal 100% and are unwilling to move?

      For what it’s worth, the PA’s latest offer starts at 54.7% and moves down to 52.3%. This is also not set in stone. My bet is if the league is willing to step up to the plate with stronger revenue sharing, the PA may be willing to get down to 50% by the end of the contract. (These numbers are based on 7.1% increase per year, which is what happened in the last 7 years, but I’m sure that is also a negotiation point.)

      The problem is the players are unwilling to move on giving back money as soon as the contract is signed, while the NHL want a huge giveback from the players.

  5. tmoore4075 - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    No there can’t be compromise. The owners will win though. I mean the players can say they will hold out but they’ll be missing paychecks in about a month and the longer that goes the tighter squeeze they’ll feel. Not saying the players should give back cause owners can’t control themselves. There is a bigger problem with the owners than Bettman. The big clubs start bending the rules with long term contracts and the midlevel and small markets have to keep up or just lose which they don’t want to do.

    Someone made a point on the players saying they should keep 57%. The NBA and NFL don’t get that and make a lot more money so why should the NHL players get it? Not taking the owners side but it’s an argument from the owners. The NFL and NBA players could argue they are worth more money because they create more revenue.

    Not siding with the owners but the NHLPA should look at the current proposal and try to negotiate off that. The NHL went back to the current definition of HRR and the next proposal probably won’t. Again the longer this goes the worse it is for the players. Not saying they will get worse than this current offer but they won’t get what they want. Players say they don’t want a lockout but they haven’t changed much from their first offer. Even Daly said he was optimistic with that offer but they hadn’t changed much since. Same goes for the NHL they haven’t moved much, although probably more than the players have. “We don’t want a lockout” but here you are with one anyways until I get what I want. These guys could work in Washington.

    • jimw81 - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      owners lost with the first proposal.

      • sharksfanatic - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        First proposal was not really that important. Where they are now is what is important. Owners have moved off the first proposal, players really haven’t. Players need to move now to make anything happen.

      • tmoore4075 - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        I didn’t like the owners first proposal (probably should have started with the current one or one close to it) but to think the players can wait it out longer than the owners can is just funny. Players saying if it takes losing the whole season… OK and if you lose the whole season and the owners still don’t blink was that worth it? The owners can wait it out. The players can’t. There is compromise to be had but only if both sides want to actually compromise.

      • tatdue - Sep 14, 2012 at 3:55 PM

        @sharksfanatic – you couldn’t be more wrong….get your facts straight before making stupid comments like that one…..and @tmoore4075 if you think that the owners don’t lose money every day that goes by without hockey being played then you’re crazy too!

      • hystoracle - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:05 PM

        tmoore – Very good points. Remember, The Players can sit out the season but they will never get that back. Their careers will just be one year shorter. the owners own lots of other things besides hockey teams; they won’t starve during the lockout regardless of how long it takes.
        The only way to get a deal done is to negotiate. And I haven’t seen the players do much true negotiating since their first proposal. The NHL’s first proposal was clearly a wish list disguised as a proposal with the goal to get a 50-50 split in revenues like most of the other major sports. It has been clear with their quickness to change the numbers that they never expected the players to accept the first offer.
        Meanwhile the players have been busier planning where they are going ot play in Europe and preparing to have a season off than actually negotiating anything. 2 hours a day 2 days a week is not a major commitment to getting a deal done.

  6. tronn25 - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Ok, I have a Bachelor’s in Economics, a Master’s in Finance, and a PhD in Advanced Statistics. Having said that, I also switched my car insurance to Geiko and saved a LOT of money.

    There is an easy solution to this problem that both the players and owners are overlooking; Borrow money from China. They have too many people and already control almost all of the US debt. They won’t see a penny of repayment from America, so why not the NHL as well. Canada has got the credentials and easy going personality to obtain the loan.

    • ballistictrajectory - Sep 14, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Think of the merchandising opportunity… Cadmium flavored Evgeni Malkin Gummy Bears, toxic mold on the board adverts, etc. We might be able to get Random Exploding Hockey Pucks with Shrapnel Surprise in side. Ni how.

  7. blomfeld - Sep 14, 2012 at 3:10 PM


    The NHL players lose with every day, week and month that passes by, no different than some forlorn “unsold” produce rotting at a roadside fruit stand … and so given the “perishable” nature of their cause, people like Crosby and Ovechkin are essentially nothing more than a bunch of “fruits and vegetables” who are fooling no one.

    The owners on the other hand, are like the store itself … and therefore they’ve every reason to believe that they can sit this thing out, which they will if need be. Unlike the players, their cause is “not” of a perishable nature, as they can always count on the stupid fan to return … even if that’s in five years time.

    the bottom line is therefore quite simple, with the eventual outcome already a given:

    NHL Owners = Safeway

    NHLPA = a bunch of bananas from Guatemala

    • tmoore4075 - Sep 14, 2012 at 3:34 PM

      Sadly that is probably the best comparison I’ve read.

      And while I’m not really on either side here, I think both sides are being stupid and lose with no hockey. But Fehr saying to the reporters yesterday that if you guys were asked to take 24% paycut you wouldn’t like that. Yeah but those reporters average salary isn’t $2mil a year either. Probably wasn’t the best example he could have used.

    • tatdue - Sep 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM

      Absolute moron…

    • paledevil - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      The problem is anyone can pick bannanas Not everyone can play hockey at a superstar level or even skate backwards…

      The problem is Safeway like any other company or group would rather change the rules than be fair These days are about twisting the community for profits…

      • sharksfanatic - Sep 14, 2012 at 6:44 PM

        Twisting the community for profits? Do you have any idea how much companies, and yes the hockey clubs invest in the communities? It is millions of dollars.

      • blomfeld - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:47 PM


        There’s no doubt friend that these players may be “special” bananas, but bananas nonetheless they are. And as the clock ticks by, so does their perishable “shelf” life. On the other hand, the owners (ie: Safeway) just have to simply wait things out if need be and then order in a new shipment of bananas when the time is right ! :)

    • paledevil - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      Its such a haha to think the AHL will put a NHL type product on the ice…

  8. tmoore4075 - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    tatdue seems to be thumbing down everyones comments a bunch of times. funny how his has 5 thumbs up while all the ones he disagreed with are way down in a matter of minutes. To your comment to me up there that I can’t reply to, the owners will miss out on the money generate from hockey I never said they wouldn’t. But something tells me the BILLIONAIRE owners can out last the players who average salary is $2mil a year. The players making around that will feel the squeeze of a missed season, heck a miss month, much more than the owners will. Even with those salaries they have house payments and car payments and some have kids in private schools. Will be tougher with no salary for a year. That’s my point.

    • paledevil - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      Paid trolls make the whole thing fun… Dont be niave enough to think intel jobs do not exist in corporate America….

  9. cspsrbums - Sep 14, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Bettman must go The fans should boycott games when they return to the ice for every game the lock out missed the players should not show up in the stands lets stick together watch them on Tv

  10. cspsrbums - Sep 14, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    Sorry the fans should not show up not players

  11. phillyphanatic76 - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    Everyone go to this site and sign the petition against the lockout. It was created by the same kid that made the “NO Lockout” video being circulated by the players. It’s up over 25k signatures and only needs about 9K more. Only takes a second.

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