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Bettman defends NHL’s first offer

Nov 19, 2012, 1:21 PM EDT

Gary Bettman AP

One of the words NHL critics like to use when describing the league’s first offer to the NHLPA is “draconian,” which can be defined as excessively severe or cruel.

The offer, presented in July, called for the players’ share of league revenue to be cut from 57 percent to 43 percent, along with a number of restrictions on player contracting.

But on Sunday, commissioner Gary Bettman refuted the idea the proposal was overly aggressive and, consequently, a mistake.

“I think the view some have of our first offer is fairly naive as it relates to collective bargaining,” Bettman told the Winnipeg Free Press on Sunday. “A sophisticated negotiator would have looked at it and said, ‘Obviously they want a 50-50 split.’ If we’re at 57 and they propose 43, they must be telegraphing where they want to end. If your intention was to use it in an inflammatory way, you could do that. If your intention was to make a deal, you could pretty much chart out what the course should be.”

At the time of the offer, Canucks goalie Cory Schneider seemed to echo Bettman’s take.

“I think the only thing I can say is it’s a first offer,” Schneider told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s a starting point. We’re going to consider it and figure out what our counter proposal is going to be. Yes, it is a little shocking when you first look at it but, again, that’s how negotiations work. You aim high and then try to move back from there.”

But NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has since said that the offer left him “considerably disappointed,” and it’s become clear the players have used it as a rallying point.

So even if Bettman’s intention was to telegraph the NHL’s end goal, if instead it was used to embolden the players and led them to distrust the league even more, it’s hard to see how it helped the process.

Like Frank Luntz says, “It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.”

  1. tortowl - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    The tragedy here is that whatever the owners, players, or union says – they don’t care about the state of the game, the perception of the game – the parking lot attendant, bar owners close to arenas, ticket takers and everyone else not making money, and the sponsors that forked over tens of thousands of dollars to advertise in their arenas.

    These people can read – if it’s not on this site, it’s in their own local papers, news feeds or email – they know exactly how the fans feel how damaging this lockout is, so when I read about how upset or how sad these guys are I become even more disgusted with the complete lack of respect to the fans that put money in their pockets.

    • stakex - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      The thing is though, the fans will come back and they know it… and thats a simple fact.

      If you like hockey, you’ll watch hockey and the NHL will still have by far the best product once the lockout ends. So a lot of fans can piss and moan about being “done with the NHL”, but mark my words… most will be tuned in when that first puck drops, and ratings will still be just as high as they were.

      In the business world, the only thing either side respects is money… and the long term money isn’t going anywhere. Thus the owners and players don’t have to put much thought into how the fans feel.

      • ibieiniid - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        it’s unbelievable how many people disagree with you (thumbs-down) when things aren’t going great in negotiations, essentially saying that they’re not coming back, but when we get a promising article as to where the negotiations are, everybody is back to their full level of excitement. you’re absolutely right that all (or a very large majority) of the fans will come right back, but none of these people want to admit it.

        if you’re all done with hockey, why you still checking the status of the lockout on this site? and not only are you checking the status, you’re also reading the comments.

  2. aventador12 - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    True. Couldn’t have said it any better. If this is literally the beginning of an end to this sport, sad to say it’ll be remembered in a sad and bitter way. Hope for the best, but expect the worse, which again, sad to say, the latter is what has been happening.

  3. valoisvipers - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    On the bright side of a cancelled season would be that we the fans get to keep almost all of that 3.3 billion dollars that they are squabbling over.
    Time for the players to face the fact that history repeats it’s self and that they should now cave in and lets play some freaking hockey already.

    • bjbeliever - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:59 PM

      Well my cable bill wasn’t any cheaper this month and a fair shake of that 3 billion comes from television so someone may be keeping that money but it sure isn’t us.

  4. hockeywithdrawal - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    One thing is clear – the “end goal” was never to actually play hockey within a reasonable timeframe.

    • stakex - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      Yes, because the owners just wanted to flush the season away. Thats a GREAT way to make money. Seriously, anyone who thinks the owners actually wanted this to happen is simply an idiot. The owners have a lot to lose with the lockout.

      In fact, the only one who has nothing to lose, and might actually gain from the lockout, is on the players side… and thats Fehr.

      • tatdue - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        Fehr gains nothing from this lock out continuing since as long as the players continue to be locked out he does not get paid….by his choosing that is! Also since there haven’t been any concessions by the owners and the players haven’t asked for anything new other than increased revenue sharing between the owners it’s pretty simple to see that the ONLY people to gain anything from this lock out are your precious OWNERS and the idiot here is you!

      • hockeyflow33 - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:46 PM

        Incorrect, many of the owners still make plenty of money while the season isn’t played. Bettman, Daly and everyone else on the NHL side continues to get paid as well.

  5. sjsharks66 - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    For some reason, I feel slightly optimistic today…

  6. sportsfan69 - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Hey Donald Fehr, stick to the CBA. It’s 50/50, without a full season salary. If play 60 games, you paid for 60 games. Simply mathematics, don’t spin it a different direction. Stop being so adversarial. It’s very unprofessional. There’s no collusion, not like Major Baseball’s 1995 CBA.

  7. elvispocomo - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    That’s fine to say it was a first offer and equally to the other side of what they truly wanted based on what the players were currently getting, but then he can’t be so upset saying they “aren’t speaking the same language” when the NHLPA’s proposals don’t immediately meet them in the middle. C’mon Gary, if you are so wise about negotiating, then how come you didn’t expect the types of offers you’ve been getting from the NHLPA and just treat them as a part of the process?

    – From 43% plus all the other negatives in contracting rights and salary rollbacks.
    – To 50% plus all the other negatives in contracting rights and a ‘make whole’ provision the players pay to themselves.
    – To 50% plus all the other negatives in contracting rights but the owners pay the make whole initially.

    Did he really expect the players would go from 57% (actually 54% before the clause kicked in about revenues being over the expected threshold and bumped it up 3% – the owners signed off on that in the last lockout) and advantages in contracting in exchange for a 24% rollback and a salary cap only to:
    – Go 50/50 on HRR
    – Lose pretty much all contracting rights they gained last time
    – And have the cap come down once again and restrict future contracts

    But hey, at least the NHL is willing to pay for the first little while to honour those contracts they signed that would have been rolled back otherwise – not that they’ll ‘make whole’ Parise, Suter and Weber’s deals all the way until they are completed in 13/14 years.

  8. blomfeld - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Canucks goalie Cory Schneider seemed to echo Bettman’s take …

    “I think the only thing I can say is it’s a first offer,” Schneider told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s a starting point. We’re going to consider it and figure out what our counter proposal is going to be. Yes, it is a little shocking when you first look at it but, again, that’s how negotiations work. You aim high and then try to move back from there.”

    Need we say more ? In addition to being the “second best” goaltender in the league, Schneider also shows himself to be an extremely intelligent and thoughtful person. Way to go Cory ! Way to show them that you “know” what you’re talking about !

    ps: here again are the current “top” goalies in the NHL today …

    1) Jonathan Quick
    2) Cory Schneider
    3) Henrik Lundqvist
    4) Ryan Miller
    5) Carey Price

    28) Mikka Kiprusoff
    29) Roberto Luongo
    30) Ilya Bryzgalov

    • ibieiniid - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      we’ve seen your ridiculous list,
      we disagree.
      stop posting it

      • blomfeld - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:04 PM

        you silly person … my lists are meant to amuse, not inform !

      • ibieiniid - Nov 20, 2012 at 8:08 AM

        @blomfeld
        …clearly

  9. valoisvipers - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I hope that IF the season is cancelled, that the league goes back to it’s first offer of 57% NHL and 43% players and stay on that until the players say UNCLE. Then maybe ticket and concession prices would not have to keep rising every year to pay the player’s salaries .

  10. stakex - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    I still think the league is getting too much grief from their first offer.

    The players were obviously going to start at a 57/43 split, so the owners offer was the complete opposit… 43/57 in favor of the owners. Whats the middle ground? 50/50, which is where everyone expected the sides to end up. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable first offer then. If the owners had offered a 50/50 split, or anything close, right off the bat the players would have refocused the middle ground much higher.

  11. stain67 - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    I am a die hard fan, like most here.
    I will not commit to boycotting the NHL upon its return, however I feel I will only support my home team…Bruins.
    I will most likely not purchase NHL items, support NHL network or NHL.com.
    My support will mainly be local tv and attend an occasional game.
    I do not miss the NHL as much as I thought, and this surprises me.
    I believe many fans feel the same, and this type of support will have an economic backlash on the league for years to come.

  12. joeyashwi - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    valoisvipers- Please explain to me how giving the owners 57% of HRR is going to help lower ticket prices and concessions? Also explain to me how you can criticize player salaries while Bettman, arguably the worst commissioner in the history of sports, makes more than 98% of players in the league? Getting paid $8 million a year to do what he does compared to players training, practicing, traveling, and playing 82 plus games a year putting their bodies on the line each and every shift? Unbelieveable….

    • valoisvipers - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:42 PM

      @joeyashwi Friend if you read my post you will see I never said lower prices I said they wouldn’t have to raise them. As Gary making more than 98% of the players is that he is worth it as the way he has expanded the revenue with relocation fee. new franchise fees, mega TV deals Hell if it weren’t for Gary the players would be making peanuts as they have benefited the most from Gary.Grinders never made 2 million a year before Bettman’s era now did they. Believe it not.

      • valoisvipers - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:43 PM

        Sorry ending should read Believe it or not.

  13. falstaffsmind - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    If they were ‘telegraphing’ some kind of midpoint, then why have they refused to negotiate on the contract issues.

  14. rainyday56 - Nov 19, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Dec. 3

  15. bruinns78 - Nov 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    How does Bettman have a JOB still this guy is gonna KILL hockey he has already lost my Season tickets Im not gonna renew my package next yr….I luv hockey but 2 lockouts in ten yrs is not the way to show that you care about the sport!!!FIRE BETTMAN.COM DB

  16. omniusprime - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    Bettman must be getting his business advice from Mitt the Twit Romney, force the workers to take a big pay hit. Next thing Bettman will be selling off the NHL to Bain Capital and they’ll bring in Chinese hockey players who’ll play for a lot less than 43 percent. Actually a drop of 14 percentage points from 57 down to 43 is a massive pay reduction, I wonder if he’s been offering to take the same percentage pay cut? Nah he’s paid by the stinking 1% owners, they never give up a cent.

    Please let NHL Hockey die the ignominious death it so deserves. There’s no sport where the men are a bunch of stick wielding sissies bent upon seeing who can get in the best cheap shot. Actually it would be great if they started up a women’s pro hockey league, the women Olympic hockey players play the best hockey because they actually play hockey instead of the cheap shot game with the stick.

    Bye Bye NHL!!!

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