|03-18-2005, 11:33 AM||#1|
lets go partner
Join Date: Oct 2004
CBA saga...........part 25
NEW YORK (AP) -- When the NHL canceled the season, the league warned players that future offers wouldn't be as good as those that were rejected.
There was proof of that Thursday.
During a 2 1/2-hour bargaining session in New York, the NHL gave the players' association two six-year proposals: one with a tie between league revenues and player costs and one without. So far, the union isn't interested in either.
A source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that the "de-linked" offer contained a hard cap of $37.5 million per team, $5 million less than commissioner Gary Bettman's final, non-negotiable proposal made on Feb. 15 -- the night before he called off the season.
Back then, the players responded with a soft-cap offer of $49 million. So, as far apart as the sides were then, the gap was wider Thursday.
The NHL, however, did make some concessions. The new offer included a minimum payroll of $22.5 million and provided a mechanism to negotiate the cap upward if there was certain revenue success, the source said.
Both proposals include the players' offer of a 24 percent rollback on existing contracts.
The removal of linkage was what got the union to agree for the first time to accept a salary cap. But a deal was never close to being reached, and a mid-ground number was never offered by either side.
"The proposals we saw today were actually worse in content than ones we had previously rejected," players' association senior director Ted Saskin told the AP from Toronto.
Once the season was wiped out, both sides said all offers were off the table. But the NHL reinstated a proposal without linkage, and gave it a short shelf life.
"De-linked means we're taking some financial risk and exposure," NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly told the AP. "As more damage is done and it becomes more unpredictable as to what our revenues will be, our willingness to entertain and accept that exposure and risk becomes less and less."
There is no question that the league would like to have a collective bargaining agreement with linkage to ensure "cost certainty" for its 30 clubs. That was the basis of the second offer Thursday in which players would be guaranteed 54 percent of league revenues, the source said.
The offers also dealt with issues such as the entry-level system, qualifying offers, salary arbitration, and free agency.
Only 20 minutes of Thursday's meeting was spent together, the time it took the NHL to lay out its proposals. The players' association spent the rest of the session in caucus, Daly said.
The executive committee of the players' association will meet for several days next week, a gathering that was scheduled before this latest round of talks.
"We will be determining our next steps and responding at the appropriate time," NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow said.
The union wasn't looking to return to the bargaining table so quickly after the cancellation of the season and said it saw nothing positive in firing similar proposals back and forth.
"We're going to do some brainstorming and see if we can come up with some other approaches," Saskin said. "We believe that the main objective that they're trying to achieve is to meaningfully reduce their player costs and put additional restraints on teams when they negotiate player contracts. There are a number of ways these types of objectives can be addressed."
The NHL wants to have a deal done in time to hold the draft on schedule in June and relaunch the league with fresh new rules aimed at opening up the game and generating more fan excitement.
"We told them if they wanted to pursue negotiations of a de-linked salary cap, then we would need to do that pretty quickly and reach an agreement in the next several weeks," Daly said.
The NHL already lagged in popularity among the four major North American sports before becoming the first of the leagues to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.
The draft can't be held without an agreement with the players' association. If talks continue to fail, the NHL might seek to have a labor impasse declared. If successful, the league could try to implement its own system and open training camps in the fall with replacement players.
That will be a topic again when the league's board of governors meets April 20. That plan was one of several up for discussion when the board convened March 1 in New York.
"We had provided each of the clubs with workbooks where we asked them to give us a lot of different information -- projections, scenarios," Daly said. "We expect to receive that information back from the clubs by the end of this month and we'll process that.
"Then we'll be in a better position to discuss business alternatives come April 20."
Last Friday, the league and players' association met in Toronto for 90 minutes. That meeting wasn't really meant for specific bargaining purposes, but more to set the tone for upcoming discussions.
"What we're looking at is what the right system can be for the players on a going forward basis," Saskin said. "Not just as a snapshot at a given point in time, but how players are treated in a market over a period of a new CBA."
This was the third trip to the bargaining table for the sides since the season was canceled. They got together three days later, without Bettman and Goodenow, in an attempt to end the cancellation. But those efforts -- highlighted by input from Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux -- were futile.
Bettman and Goodenow were present for the past two negotiating sessions.
|04-10-2005, 11:08 AM||#2|
lets go partner
Join Date: Oct 2004
GMs receive labor update from the NHL
ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) — After months of heated discussions with the players' association, NHL general managers ended two days of meetings bickering among themselves.
The six-hour, closed-door session between the GMs on Friday dealt with how to handle a draft that follows a season that never was and who deserves a shot at Canadian phenom and expected top pick Sidney Crosby.
"The temperature got high very quickly," New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury said, describing the brief but "heated debate" that he believes will be settled by commissioner Gary Bettman and the league's board of governors.
One of the proposals under consideration involves having all 30 teams enter a lottery for the first pick, an idea none too popular among teams that finished the 2003-2004 season at the bottom of the standings.
"It certainly has the tendency to be a difficult issue," NHL executive vice president Bill Daly said following the meeting at an airport hotel near Detroit.
Usually, the draft order is set based on the previous season's standings, but that is not possible this year.
Washington won last year's draft lottery, after finishing with the league's second-worst record, and grabbed Russian sensation Alexander Ovechkin with the No. 1 pick. The Capitals would love the chance to go first again and add Crosby.
"Every GM in the league can make an argument for having the first pick," Los Angeles Kings GM Dave Taylor said.
As for the league's labor situation, more progress may have been made at dinner and in the barroom than in the meeting room.
Some of the GMs and the players who were invited to sit in on Thursday's session on potential rules changes ate dinner together. Also, commissioner Gary Bettman and players' association executive director Bob Goodenow spent time together, talking at the hotel bar Thursday night — a development New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello joked "should not be looked at as a negative."
The last time the NHL and the players' union met was earlier this week in Toronto when the NHLPA rejected two league proposals.
"The first couple of meetings after the season was canceled, I didn't think there was much of a change (in mood), but I hope we can continue with the progress of the last meeting," said Daly, who did not give a specific date for the next meeting. "There seems to be a good understanding across the table of where we are."
Some GMs expressed confidence that a deal will be struck before the start of the 2005-2006 season.
"The realization that we really need to get it done has really sunk in," Milbury said.
Said Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe: "Instinctively, my own personal thoughts are we're going to be back."
On Thursday, the GMs and players — including Detroit Red Wings forward Steve Yzerman and Devils goalie Martin Brodeur — discussed possible rules changes designed to add scoring and excitement to the league.
Changes could include cutting down the size of goaltending equipment, limiting the goalie's ability to play the puck behind the net, enforcing obstruction penalties and instituting shootouts to eliminate tie games.
While no decisions were made or recommendations adopted over the two days, many who left the meeting said they felt good about what was discussed.
Many in the league see the changes as a necessity, given the lack of scoring before the NHL became the first major sports league in North America to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.
One subject that was expected to come up during the meeting — expanding the size of the nets — wasn't discussed either day. But three prototype goals were set up in the meeting room to give participants an idea of what might be considered.
The GMs can only suggest rules changes. All ideas would need to be approved by the NHL's board of governors, which is scheduled to meet on April 20.