Friday, September 28, 2012

The Song and Dance To Continue

1) The "dancing" we're alluding to are the "negotiations" set to resume this morning in Toronto/NY after a nearly 2 week hiatus.  The kicker is that they won't be discussing any 'core economic issues'.  WTF??  What else is there folks??  If all this was about non economic issues we'd have had a new CBA signed months ago!  So they are going to discuss non important issues and we're supposed to believe that's a positive development??  Sorry, we're not that thirsty that we'll be drinking that Kool-ade !

2) So why ARE they meeting Faux?  Simple, its for show.  That's right, its meeting for the sake of meeting, Both sides are worried that if this ever should reach a government arbiter/labour board they have to look as though they have 'bargained in good faith' as to avoid any possible sanctions.  For as long as they (both sides) are talking and tabling proposals, the negotiations can't be labeled 'at an impasse'.  If/when it gets to that point ( it did 2 months ago) then all bets are off and then the courts and the governments of Canada and the US could potentially get involved.

3) Both sides don't want to appear to be avoiding the other and want to appear to be open to talking to the other side. So what better way to do that than to agree to meet, then to NOT discuss the reasons we are here in the first place. However, a good source tells Fauxrumors BOTH sides are already ready to table 'new proposals' to the other. The thing is, our source told Fauxrumors, is that the new proposals are just rehashed versions of the already rejected ones, so don't expect anything new. We're in it for the long haul.   Of course none of you who are regular readers are terribly surprised to read that. So out of today we'll likely hear that they agreed to meet again and the media and casual fans will get giddy about it. We at Fauxrumors and our loyal readers are not biting on that bait.  This is far from over. I think we're about 370 or so days away from NHL hockey.  i think we'll soon start a count down clock towards that!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Burke Throws Allaire Under Leafs Bus!

1) For those not paying attention to hockey since the Lockout started, the big bubabaloo going down these days is the in fighting between the Toronto Maple leafs GM and their , now former, goalie coach Francois Allaire. The latter was fired (not retained) by Toronto after 3 years as the team's goalie coach.  Allaire recently made the dismissal into a public spat when he sarcastically said the Leafs don't need a goalie coach. Basically Allaire suggested there were too many coaches whispering in the young goaltenders’ ears and Aillare, as we're told having a HUGE ego,(Like Burke) didn't like it. He especially didn't like the fact that he was being blamed for the failures of the current leafs net minders not progressing.  To his defense, its not like he's working with Patrick Roy in Toronto

2) Said Burke on March 3rd: "Francois Allaire is not going anywhere. I think we have the best goalie coach on the planet."    If Burke is so sure goaltending has evolved and passed Allaire by, why did he hire him? You knew exactly what you were getting with Francois   So much as Brian Burke threw 'his pal' Ron Wilson under the bus  now its Francois Allaire's turn. When will he throw himself under the bus for Komi and Connolly?  LOL    In reality, Burke is essentially blaming Allaire for getting hired in the first place. This is akin to blaming players for signing ludicrous contracts.  Stay tuned

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Price Of Transparency?

1) The price of honesty/transparency has apparently been set by the NHL at $250,000 (US).  That's the size of the fine imposed by the NHL on the Detroit Red Wings organization by the NHL following the very candid and honest comments made by senior VP Jimmy Devellano. Now, by honest I'm not saying I agree with his assessment of the league/players, but its clear that its his, and he believes its also the league stance on these issue(s). Specifically,  Devellano in an exclusive interview with Scott Harrigan of Island Sports News, he discussed the lockout and collective bargaining talks.  He was quoted as saying: "It's very complicated and way too much for the average Joe to understand, but having said that, I will tell you this,"...The owners can basically be viewed as the Ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the Ranch and allow the players to eat there. That's the way its always been and that the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren't going to let a union push them around. It's not going to happen."  He went on to also say that the players should take 43 per cent of the revenue, instead of the current 57 per cent.

2) The league, through VP Commish Bill Daly stated that  The Detroit Red Wings' organization and the League agree that the comments made by Mr. Devellano are neither appropriate, nor authorized, nor permissible under the League's By-Laws.  Such comments are neither constructive nor helpful to the negotiations"   Of course its not helpful when you have one of your own tell the players/the public the truth on how you view them; as pieces of cattle, or probably more accurately as chattel. Once again let me first preface all my following statements with the usual dispensement of class war fare nonsense.  Don't fall into the trap of vilifying those around you who make more money than you.  NHL players, like any other well paid profession, are well compensated for a reason. Few can do well what they do.  How many of the "players are over paid" whiners can boast that they have 20,000 people paying $50-100 82 times a year to see them "work".  Exactly!   This short out burst of honesty from the owners side should tell all of us out there how entrenched their side is. How they feel about their "partners", and by extrapolation how far apart they really are in these negotiations.  Its yet another reason why we at Fauxrumors believe that there will be NO NHL hockey in 2012-2013.   For I believe the players already knew that the owners felt this way toward them, and these infrequent bursts of candor only bolster/confirm those beliefs. Thus the messenger(Devellano) had to be dealt with severely.  The price for honesty is now known.  Beware!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

'The Right Of Return' ??

1) The Right of Return we're referring to here is the age old issue the Israeli's and Palestinians have never been able to over come to solve their differences. In a nut shell, the Palestinians believe that ALL refugees scattered throughout the world have the right to return to their former homeland (Palestine/Israel). Since this would mean literally tens of millions of Arab immigrants it would essentially cause the Jewish population in The Jewish State to be a minority, and cease to exist. Thus the dead lock.

2) I'm sure most are asking; Why Faux are you giving us a history lesson on a hockey blog? Simply it relates to the biggest impasse preventing the 2 sides from being able to solve the current NHL CBA issue.  Like the Middle East issue above, the constant elephant in the room is the request of the owners to scale back the existing contracts of the players. Understandably the players, who gave in on that last time and accepted an across the board 24% roll back, are not going to be amenable to that this time.  Thus "the immovable object meets the irresistible force".  Players correctly are stating that the owners need to live up to their legally negotiated and agreed upon contracts.

3) I believe from talking with folks who are 'in the know' that if the owners 'grandfathered' existing contracts, altered/increased the revenue sharing to assist the needy clubs, the players would likely accept a CBA where they shared 50% of the revenue with the owners. I detect a strong opposition/a resoluteness I didn't see last time around. They (players) feel they gave in last time and are unwilling to bare all the sacrifice once again. Once again folks, dispense with the class war fare nonsense with regard to the players salaries.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

It Begins........

1) No shocker that with the expiration of the CBA negotiated/signed in the spring of 2005 and the lack of a new one to replace it the owners/Gary Bettman announced that the players are now "locked out'. Let me have to say this but once, this is NOT a strike!!!  I recall during the 2nd Bettman lockout so many, usually casual, fans were misstating the situation. Thinking incorrectly that there was a players strike.  Probably because the NHL owners PR machine had been working over time for a couple of years prior to effectively vilify the players. Then, like now its NOT the players who are unwilling to go out there and play for their already agreed upon contracts, but the owners who are asking for those players to take a sizable cut on those contracts. Yes, the owners who gave them the money, are the ones crying that they gave up to much!  Yes, its as silly as that.

2) Yes, yes, we know/understand the other side's argument that the players in the other sports who recently signed new CBA's took less of a %. Yes, I totally understand that.  However those 2 sports have a few significant differences. For one, they share a sizable chunk of their money among themselves. The small teams like Green bay as well as the Goliaths like Dallas and NY, all get the same split of the TV revenue and even share some gate receipts. Meanwhile the NHL barely shares anything with the lower revenue teams.  The Montreals, Torontos NY Rangers Detroit all are making more $ than ever. While Phoenix Nashville, Columbus, Fla, etc all are on financial life support. Also please stop any 'class warfare' nonsense. Yes, we know the players are all well compensated, but if you could persuade 20,000 people to pay $50+ 82 times a year to watch you work, then you should get paid well too!

3) As we have written before, if the NHL wants to have small/non-traditional markets, they have to be prepared to share their riches to assist them. I think the players would be MUCH more amenable to any cuts IF they saw that those reductions going to help the folks in financial peril, and not to further line the pockets of the 'rich' 10 or so clubs. Simply it would make no sense to do so, for they know if they allow themselves to be cut to size again, not only will the underlying issues still be unsolved, but it will give the owners free reign to come back in another 5-10 years for another cut in the players size of the pie.  So here we are, the first of what looks like MANY days without NHL hockey. As we wrote Wednesday, the more time goes by, the harder feelings will get and positions will further harden. Making an early resolution almost impossible. In my opiion it will take someone from the owners side. Probably a big market guy to step up and try to persuade the rest that they need a new approach. I think if they did that the players would quickly grasp the olive branch and this could get settled within a couple of weeks. Lets keep our fingers crossed that this person even exists, and it occurs sooner rather than later.  Until then, pleaee stand by.........

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reasons For Pessimism!

1) With the lockout a mere two days away, the more we read of whats going on behind the scenes the more pessimistic we feel that this will be resolved quickly.  Certainly we don't think it will be resolved before the Saturday owners/Bettman imposed deadline. Why?  Several factors are occurring simultaneously to thwart an easy resolution.  Firstly is the astounding resoluteness that the players appear to be showing this time around. We attribute this to Donald Fehr who as one player told us, "exudes self confidence, but also is a good listener". From a players perspective that's huge. Last time Bob Goodenow, although the first real advocate for the players, was anything but communicative.  " Trust me, I'll take care of it" was usually what he'd say to players wanting information.  Fehr has been in this situation with MLB many times before and is anything but intimidated by the likes of a Gary Bettman. If anything one source tells us, Bettman is intimidated by Fehr.  The players and Fehr have a completely different view point and are pretty united behind it.

2) Secondly, the players will have a much higher chance of finding work if/when locked out. We decided to take a realistic look at how any players might find alternative work.  This factor may be vital in determining the ability of the players union to withstand a prolonged lockout.  Last time around a hand full of players went to Europe to play, and a couple played in lower North American minor leagues.  As a result when the league cancelled the season in February 2005, 95% of the players had gone almost a year without any meaningful income and were very antsy and easy for the league to divide and conquer (and they did) Fast forward to today.  For starters there is a new expanded, Russian league, the KHL, which is eager to compete with the NHL for talent and would welcome with open arms any Russian stars, and probably a number of North Americans. Now there is a league limit of imports, but only for the Russian based teams and its quite possible that they may alter their rules to accommodate additional job hunting (former) NHL-ers.  We estimate that as many as 75-100 players (50 minimum) might find work there.  Additionally the various 'elite' leagues in Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland have all indicated they'd be amenable to allow a number of NHL players participate, especially if they are natives of their country.  We figure that could allow an additional 50 or so NHL locked out players to earn a regular(albeit, significantly reduced) pay cheque.

3) Additionally, players on their entry level contracts, and over 19 are eligible to play in the AHL and receive a smaller, but decent salary, but more importantly, keep playing. That might account for another 50 or so players.  A few players, 19 or under might also be able to return to their junior teams for the season and evade the labour strife all together.  Another HUGE difference this time around is the fact that the players are due to receive some 8-10% of their 2011-2012 salary back from the "escrow".  Come mid October, just as they would have expected to get their first pay cheque for this season the players will ALL get a nice bit of income to help hold them over for a while.  Some might get as much as 500-750K!  Additionally a new possible wrinkle is the NHLPA's attempt to have the 'lockout' made illegal.  Especially in Canada labour law is very stringent. Employers can't simply refuse to not employ workers with legally binding contracts. Therefore we could see a situation where 7 teams or nearly 25% worth of players would get a regular salary regardless of the lockout situation.

4) In past lockouts the owners and Bettman relied heavily on the financial motive to bring the players to their knees.  The old saying of billionaires outlasting millionaires is very true, but how long the millionaires can last might be a bit more this time around. Those same players also have more chances to find a pay cheque elsewhere to tide them over/increase the mount of time they will be able to 'fight on'.The more time that goes by, the more sides may harden and make a settlement all the more difficult to achieve.  The owners start to lose $$ earlier with lost exhibition games, and they won't be quick to move their demands once they feel a pinch and may want to extract a similar pain on to the players   Do the owners have a realistic understanding of what might happen if this becomes a protracted stoppage?  The players aren't likely to fracture like 2004-05. They are well informed and are involved. It will all come down to will. As a result we aren't optimistic for hockey to even be played this calendar year, if not until next fall at the earliest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget!!

1) Let's Never forget that 11 years ago today 3000 of us were murdered for no other reason than for what these colors represent; Freedom

These Colors NEVER Run!

Monday, September 10, 2012

If I Was King.....

1) If I was the omniscient all powerful ruler of the NHL and could unilaterally impose my will on making a new CBA here are a few of what I'd consider common sense ideas I'd include in the new deal.

a) Make it LONG! Stop with the 5-7 year crap. Make it 12-15 years with a few 'out clauses' that one side could invoke with the agreement of an independent arbitrator, for minor adjustments caused by economic strife/success, but to go through this nonsense every few years is insane

b) Limit contract length, but to either 10 years or NOT above age 40 which ever is larger. Additionally, reduce the discrepancy of annual salary between years to a reasonable number. Lets say no less than 75% of the previous season, so one year you can make 10 mil the next no less than 7.5

c) Eliminate rookie salary cap. It made sense years ago when it was first started to limit rookies from holding out before signing their first NHL contract when there wasn't a league wide salary cap. So today its redundant to have one soly for entry level players. Perhaps no arbitration for the first 3 seasons

d) Adjust the free agency a bit.  26 is a tad too young to be eligible for full UFA. 28 or 8 years in the league which ever is larger, makes more sense. Also adjust the RFA issue. Right now they are not really 'free'.  Adjust the compensation to possibly include players that could be agreed upon through an independent arbiter.

e) Allow a (limited) amount of cap space to be traded. This would help the lower revenue teams to get something in return for having a low payroll. Perhaps a high draft pick or young player to get the fans excited about, and the other team can bolster its roster for a Cup run, etc.  WE like flexibility.

f) Olympic participation is a no-brainer.  Hard to say how much its helped the product brand, but it can't hurt, especially when the games are played in North America/Europe where all the players are from.

2) Most importantly, with regard to the "economic issues.

  a) A 50:50 split. Yes all sides lose here, but its a fair slice of the pie for each. However, huge caveat here. ALL hockey related revenue would be included here. All money each team makes from running the team is factored into this. Ticket sales, to merchandise, to concessions/parking. ALL OF IT!  Additionally, there would be an agreed upon independent auditor who would have full authority/access to look into the books of any team, at any time and determine if they are giving a full/accurate accounting of their income so the salary cap can be accurately set each season.

b) Full partnership to decide where franchises should be located. If the players are indeed 'partners', as Bettman loved to say, then they should be allowed to participate in this inportant process. They already are partnered (in the process anyway) in making rules changes.

c) Meaningful revenue sharing.  If the NHL wants to have teams in small/(non traditional) markets then they should be prepared to share the wealth around (to use an unfortunate phrase of a failed politician). That means a more NFL-like system to assist/share money from the big money teams(Toronto/Philly/NY/Montreal,etc, with the less well off teams ike Dallas, TB, Fla, etc. We believe this would also spur owners to perhaps rethink those teams existance or location if they were forced to help fund them.

3) Do we believe these changes will ever happen?  Probably not, but in my opinion if the NHL and NHLPA were able to see that they would make everyone hugely (more) rich they would/should.  We wouldn't lose another season, we'd have stable teams everywhere and there would be no future work stoppages potentually ruining another season of hockey. Bonus: Gary Bettman could retire! ;)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sucker Born Every Minute?

1) In deference to P.T. Barnum, that statement can be also attributed to "investors" who apparently have backed the latest attempt to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes franchise. The former president and CEO of the San Jose Sharks Greg Jamison has apparently been able to set up financing that would allow him to complete the sale of the Coyotes from the NHL for $170 million. Jamison's investors include members of the Ice Edge Group, who themselves at one point attempted to purchase the team during the three-year period where the team has been under the NHL control.

2) Now, its not yet final, and we'll fully believe it when the ink is dry, but if true it either shows that folks are easily duped, have money to burn, or have been promised something that isn't/can't be announced publicly. WE have yet to read/see any Independent report that shows how the franchise in Phoenix can make money, let alone not lose upwards of 25 million annually. Its precisely why former owner Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy and tried to sell the team to Jim Balsille 3 years ago. It was also later learned that even before that the NHL was assisting the team financially Since then the NHL has managed/owned the team (and lost money despite the city of Glendale allocating 25 million to the team)

3) It has taken nearly a year for Jamison to gather together enough "investors"(suckers?) to finally get the sale completed. By the way, if it was such a great deal, why wouldn't Jamison buy it out right? He has the dough we're told. Anyway, he apparently has arm twisted/cajoled enough to get to this point. Which begs the question(s): What was promised? I have to believe that it was told quietly that the team will 'give it a go' for a season or two. If losses continue (and there is ZERO reason to believe they won't) they will be 'forced' to relocate to a more profitable location. Most likely Seattle, KC, or more remotely Quebec City (Shane Doan would love that one, no? LOL

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