NHLPA biding time until counter-offer is ready

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NHLPA biding time until counter-offer is ready

Its been two weeks since the NHL unloaded the first CBA proposal onto the NHLPA and the rest of an unsuspecting hockey world, and made the statement that the two sides are indeed very far apart on terms, revenue shares and nearly every major sticking point.
The NHLPA and Executive Director Donald Fehr have pored through the document, asked their questions and come to harmonious agreement on some of the minor points below the surface.
But make no mistake about it: the biggest point of contention will be the percentage split of hockey-related revenue and where the players will ultimately go from their current 57 percent haul of revenue.
Its expected the league wants to eventually land at a 5050 split with the players that will ultimately lower the salary cap ceiling from the expected 70 million limit for each team next season. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in the balance of which side wins the negotiating battle, and its that large pile of cash that will make the CBA talks painful before its over.
But through it all, the NHLPA has acted coolly and rationally where they might have once flown off the handle in a rage.
"They have asked for a reduction in the players' share," said Fehr to reporters. We indicated that here is some further information that we've requested.
Instead the NHLPA is sitting, waiting and taking measure of which way the wind is blowing before releasing its own counter-proposal. One would expect that counter-move is coming sooner rather than later, and that its going to include creative ideas about revenue sharing.
After all, Fehr is the same union head that oversaw the change to a soft salary cap in Major League Baseball that essentially boils down to a luxury tax with heavy revenue sharing controls. The New York Yankees spend like drunken sailors and poverty-stricken teams like the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates end up the beneficiaries of the extra funds.
Fehr and the NHLPA have designs on something similar in the NHL where teams like the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs have seemingly endless reserves of cash they could call upon when needed. That would make things more manageable for teams like the New Jersey Devils and Phoenix Coyotes that are facing economic difficulties. That system could help the struggling small market franchises that are driving the owners to a we are losing money argument despite a record 3.3 billion in revenues last season.
But it would also be a large departure for teams like New York, Toronto, Chicago and Boston that dont want to bankroll the rest of the league based on their own successful business models. Its not the business that any owners signed up for when they joined the NHL, but it might just be the best solution to get everybody what theyre seeking.
One thing that proposal will do: get the small market and big market NHL owners fighting among each other given the very different situations theyre each facing.
Its the kind of divide-and-conquer philosophy Gary Bettman has long used to break the backs of the players union during CBA negotiations, and now it would appear that Fehr is working that same side of the street.
The NHLPA has been thoughtful, diligent, understanding and deliberate in each move theyve made thus far this summer, but a big move is coming from them sooner or later. The contents of their upcoming counter-proposal will tell a great many things: how far apart the owners and players truly seem to be right now, what is most important to the players and just how many games hockey fans can expect to miss when the NHL gets started late this season.
Its trending toward a short-ish work stoppage being a definite rather than a simple possibility at this point.
But any work stoppage be it ending the day after Thanksgiving or on New Years Day along with the Winter Classic -- will ultimately be decided by the men armed in briefcases that hold hockeys fate in their very complex business models.

Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

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Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

BOSTON – Austin Czarnik is off to a good start at Bruins training camp.

He’s got points in each of the first two exhibition games and just the fact that he’s cracked the B’s lineup in both games tells you that the coaching staff wants to get a long, good look at the undersized forward.

But the 5-foot-9, 167-pound Czarnik brings more than simply a touch of the Napoleon complex after always being told that he was too small to make it to the elite levels of hockey. The 23-year-old clearly can score after posting 20 goals and 61 points in his first pro season in the AHL in Providence last season. He plays with heart, energy and a dogged determination when he’s hunting pucks on the fore-check.

But former P-Bruins head coach and current B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy says that Czarnik also brings something a little extra that New England Patriots fans will certainly appreciate.

“As far as being a player goes, he would be, to me, that [Bill] Belichick-type player that you could use in a lot of different situations,” said Cassidy, in clear reference to intelligent utility guys Troy Brown, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and others that all filled different roles in their time with New England.

“He’s got a very, very high IQ, he’s a quick learner and very coachable,” Cassidy said. “So, he’s a guy you can move around, and he can play with different players. He can play on the penalty kill, he’s good on the power play and especially on the point.

“So there are a lot of different things. I think from night-to-night if you wanted to, you could move him around in your lineup and he could be effective for you. I know he’s a center, but it would be interesting to see if he could play the wing and be effective. That’s something we haven’t really seen. Is that something we maybe attempt down the road? I don’t know. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he could handle it. He even played for us 6-on-5 as a defenseman with the goalie out. He’s just a smart player, and he understands the game very, very well.”

So, Czarnik is off to a good start in training camp with the Bruins, but we also saw the same thing from him last year as a rookie to pro hockey. 

Now, it’s about seeing whether a smaller player can finish strong as the competition heightens deeper into the preseason, and perhaps he can bring that versatility and feistiness to the NHL level in Boston. 

 

 

Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

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Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while looking forward to watching the Luke Cage Netflix series.

*The Cult of Hockey has no issues with yours truly ranking the Edmonton Oilers 29th out of 30 teams in my first preseason NHL power rankings.

*An interesting piece about Brian McGrattan and his battle with alcohol in his career as an NHL tough guy. I can honestly say having covered him a bit when he was in the Bruins organization that he was one of the scariest dudes I’ve ever talked to in an NHL dressing room. A nice guy, but very intense and always looked like he definitely enjoyed his work on the ice.

*Dennis Seidenberg hopped on with the Hockey Central crew today to talk about his new contract with the New York Islanders.

*PHT writer and Friend of Haggs (FOH) Mike Halford has Guy Boucher with some serious Dion Phaneuf love going on in Ottawa.

*Jack Eichel is oozing confidence and swagger in his second NHL season with Buffalo looking to make a big step up this season.

*Scott Burnside said that the World Cup of Hockey could be coming to an end tonight and I think most predict that it will with a little bit of an anticlimactic thud due to the sheer awesomeness of Team Canada.

*For something completely different: “Aleppo Moment” sounds like a great name for a rock band. Not so much for a Presidential candidate.