I understand that a majority of you have tuned out the NHL negotiations, which have had more stops and starts and expletive deleteds than being behind the wheel on the LIE in rush hour. And it’s been just as frustrating to cover the meandering.
But it appears---and most of us covering this saga, if we’re honest, have been incorrect in our logic-driven assessments so far---that the end game is approaching.
Here’s the situation as of last night.
Ninety-minute meeting on Sixth Ave. The key fellas, plus 18 players, including veterans who haven’t really been involved face-to-face, and Leafs GM Brian Burke.
Deputy Commish Bill Daly afterward: “The (union) went over their positions on player contracting issues, suggested they have moved in our direction significantly on economics. We pushed them a little bit on that, to understand where they are on economics, and I don’t think we got any more clarity on that.”
Daly is tired of the piecemeal approach. The minor issues have been hashed out weeks ago. It’s time to put the pedal to the metal before a large chunk of December games go by the boards. "We'd like to know where they are on all the issues,” Daly told the media staked out on the sidewalk. “We asked that they put together a comprehensive proposal for us to consider." That could be done by Wednesday. I find it hard to believe that the union leadership doesn’t have an alternate blueprint or two other than the suggestions rejected back in mid-October.
The owners, it seems to me, have some wiggle room on contract issues---free agency, arbitration, term limits---and the two sides appear close to the back-diving contract deals.
But the money, ah yes, it’s always about the money as Giants GM George Young used to say, is the crux of the plan.
How do the players, being realistic now, see the sharing of hockey-related revenue (HRR)? Daly said the league will not guarantee a payout of $1.9 billion for '12-13 with raises of 1.75 percent in years 2 and 3.
Because the revenue-growth models for this season, and presumably the next few, judging by fan sentiment and the North American economy, are out the window (Did anybody read that TV networks are prepping for an advertising downturn and that health-care reform is prompting some corporate belt-tightening), there must be a rethinking, an adjustment.
Instead of hard $$$, the sides have to agree on percentages of the projected pie, whatever that turns out to be each season, and live with their slice. Whether it’s fair or not, players have to start realizing that it’s time to bargain out the best deal possible because part of the slice---and future slices of a multi-billion-dollar empire---is far better than none.