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Used to be all I’d want to learn was wisdom, trust and truth, now all I really want to learn is forgiveness for you — Collective Soul

Posts Tagged ‘lockout’

I miss hockey

There’s nothing more depressing than a pub in late October with no hockey on the big screen.

Players, owners, settle this thing already. We need our hockey back.

Hockey’s back, baby!

Or, at least it looks like it’s going to be back in the fall. The NHL and the NHLPA have announced an agreement in principle that, if ratified, will finally end the lockout that cancelled this season:

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but TSN of Canada is reporting it is a six-year deal with a hard team-by-team salary cap with a first-year payroll range of $21 million to $39 million, including all player costs. The salary cap and payroll range will move up or down as revenues increase or decrease each year of the deal.

The players caved, basically. And they have to be feeling pretty low about the fact that this deal is worse than the one they rejected in February.

It looks like there will be a draft on July 21st using a lottery format, and that things will be back to normal for the start of next season – but not quite. The league lacks a US television deal, major sponsors have cancelled, and attendance is sure to be down. It’s anyone’s guess how long it will take the league to recover, if ever.

One question: how long will it take for Bob Goodenow to be fired?

Is it over?

The NHL lockout may be very close to over, with reports that the NHLPA caved and agreed to a salary cap:

And a later Internet report, quoting anonymous sources, said the league and the union had agreed to a floating cap based on the percentage of team revenues — with a floor of US$22-million to US$24-million to a ceiling between US$34-million and US$36-million in 2005-06.

The agreement reportedly includes a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax that would kick in at the midway point between the salary floor and the salary cap.

The resulting luxury tax dollars would be redistributed among lower-revenue teams.

The Inquirer had earlier pegged the high end of the cap somewhere between US$38-million and US$43-million.

Any deal would appear to include a 24% rollback of salaries, first offered by the union in December, and a league counter proposal that capped player compensation at 54% of total NHL revenues.

If the numbers are accurate, the union will be accepting a deal much lower than the last major proposal before the NHL season was cancelled in February. At the time, the league was offering a cap of up to US$42.5-million. The union, which had entered the lockout insisting it would never accept an artificial limit on salary levels, had agreed to the notion of a cap but reportedly would not go below US$49-million.

After a season of lost salaries, however, the players have moved closer and closer to the league’s numbers.

There’s no doubt that this is an owner’s victory, something that’s not altogether surprising considering how many players had at one time or another broken with their union to press for a deal.

Early analysis of the figures suggest that the deal will help to equalize rich and poor teams, fostering competitiveness. What suffers as a result, of course, is the motivation to develop a roster of young future stars, because the minute they get good enough, the team will be forced to trade some of them away for lower-priced players. That’s why I long maintained that an individual salary cap would have made more sense than a team cap, though negotiations were never heading in that direction.

While everyone’s being cautious, if the reports of the resolving of the biggest stumbling block are true, then this ought to pave the way for a deal and for the return of hockey next season, though major television and sponsorship deals have already been cancelled. Which really leads me to ask: why couldn’t this have been agreed to a year ago?

At any rate, here’s hoping that hockey will be back soon.

Imaginary hockey

What do Canadians do when there’s no NHL hockey? We imagine it.

Don’t. Care. Anymore.

The NHLPA rejected 2 more proposals by NHL owners. Yawn.

It’s sad but I hardly even care anymore. This does not bode well for the league’s future, when even fans like me are losing interest.

Another nail in the NHL’s coffin

The NHL has cancelled next year’s draft since there’s still no agreement reached between the players and owners.

Oh well, there goes next season. I can’t even work up anger anymore. Just a kind of frustrated resignation.

Players cave, but still no deal

The NHLPA swerved first in the salary cap game of chicken that the two sides have been playing for months. But there’s still no deal.

I’d initially been annoyed with the players for refusing to acknowledge that they couldn’t keep earning NBA salaries with NHL revenues. But their willingness – albeit last-minute – to remove their opposition on principle to a salary cap showed clearly that they are willing to compromse. In theory, all that’s left now is haggling over the numbers.

However, the owners’ stubbornness is only an indication that they have no real interest in reviving hockey. This season is a wash no matter what, but next season and beyond will suffer too. The hockey strike has possibly killed – and certainly severely crippled – the NHL. The players today showed for the first time that they are willing to talk seriously about a deal. The owners, on the other hand, seem unwilling to accept any responsibility for the league’s dire financial straits.

What gets me is how unnecessary this whole thing was. Nobody will win with this strike – not the owners, not the players, and certainly not the fans. Everyone loses.

The hockey season is taking longer to be declared dead than Yasser Arafat. It’s enough already. It’s February 15th. Just bury the season and move on. Please.

NHL = No Hockey League

Things are looking really bleak for the NHL these days, with common ground still eluding the players and owners as the seconds tick down on any chance to save the season:

Last week, the players offered to take an across-the-board 24 per cent pay cut on existing contacts to help settle the stalemate. The league countered Tuesday with a graduated rollback that would see the top salaries cut by as much as 35 per cent while leaving the lowest salaries untouched.

The counter-offer from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was rejected by the union and there are no further talks scheduled.

Sure, life goes on. But without hockey, somehow the winter just seems… bleaker. Luckily I’ve been too busy at work to think about it much.

New NHLPA proposal

Please please please let this new NHLPA proposal be a real option, containing some sort of concession towards a salary cap, and not just another political nonstarter. We want our hockey back, not more Movie Night in Canada.

Between the NHL lockout, the SAQ strike, and the UPS strike, to name a few, I’m considering jumping on the strike bandwagon myself – not against my job, but against all the strikes.

Come back, hockey! We miss you!

And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming…

Yes, believe it or not, there is other news besides the US election. Starting with the fact that nobody can figure out what’s wrong with Arafat. I’ve heard discounted diagnoses ranging from stomach cancer to leukemia to AIDS. If you ask me, what’s wrong with him is a complete, utter lack of a conscience, coupled with a victim mentality that tells him that the best way to get world sympathy right now is to get sick. It seems to be working like a charm.

The NHLPA met again yesterday, supposedly to discuss “strategy” but in reality to browbeat dissenting members into submission (perhaps by tattooing “no salary cap” into their skulls… for any players who might have been confused on that point).

And a suggestion for the SAQ workers planning to strike: consider as an alternative… a drink-in.

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