News from Around the League - Part XXXV - I'll see you in court!
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12-07-2012, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
I read this a while back on one of the main forums (the Business of Hockey I think), it's an informative piece on Bettman and the prior two CBA negotiatons. I didn't want to depress anyone by posting it - and it was written back in September - but after the last couple days that ship's sailed anyway. It does contain some really interesting info in there and illustrates just how much baggage exists in these labor wars:
This on the '95 lockout for example:
It wasn’t until Jan. 9, less than 24 hours from the league’s deadline, that the make-or-break bargaining session was convened. The meeting at the Four Seasons hotel in Manhattan started at 10:30 a.m., with the commissioner tabling what the Bruins’ Harry Sinden had called the owners’ “final, final, final, final, final offer.” Progress was fitful, and it was getting close to midnight when Bettman and Goodenow repaired to Shun Lee Palace, a Chinese restaurant that advertises itself as the ideal location for Upper East Side socialites, to hash the last details out over dinner. But things dragged on long after the egg rolls got cold. It was 6 a.m. when both negotiating teams, red-eyed and rumpled, met up in Goodenow’s hotel suite for what was supposed to be one last examination of the terms. The list was read aloud: an escalating cap on rookie salaries, beginning at US$850,000; check. The continuation of the existing arbitration system, but with a new right for owners to walk away from decisions they didn’t like up to three times every two years; check. A six-year term, with both sides retaining the right to reopen the deal after the 1997-98 season; check.
Then came the provisions about free agency, and that’s where things went sideways. “Gary thought they had agreed on one thing, Bob thought they had agreed on another,” John McCambridge, one of the NHLPA lawyers, recounts. “People were getting pretty hot. The whole deal almost blew sky high.” What sounded to outsiders like a triﬂing matter—whether the age of unrestricted free agency would drop from 32 to 31 after the first year of the new agreement or the third—now threatened to derail the entire enterprise
And on 2004, some of this sounds eerily like what just happened now:
So a decision was made to embark on a different course: a series of informal, without-prejudice meetings where the two sides could freely explore all the options for a new collective bargaining agreement. The NHLPA would be represented by their deputy director, Ted Saskin, and outside lawyer John McCambridge. For the NHL, it would be Bob Batterman and Bettman’s major-domo, Bill Daly. The secret talks, dubbed Project Blue Fin after a seafood and sushi restaurant in the W Hotel in Times Square, the site of the initial meeting, were focused on finding a compromise. The mood was cordial and no subject was verboten.
There were close to a dozen sessions over four months, and it seemed like progress was being made, but then in early June, Goodenow and Bettman joined the group and things started to fall apart. In the presence of the main combatants, all the bad blood from the first lockout suddenly flowed back into the room, and winning became a lot more important than bargaining. The positions quickly hardened.
The league wanted a firm ceiling on the amount of money going to the players, and the NHLPA wouldn’t budge.
There's a lot of other good stuff there too, especially the behind-scenes maneuvering of the first lockout, but those were just the two main anecdotes that stood out. And don't forget, Goodenow is a Fehr disciple.
Last edited by NJDevs26: 12-07-2012 at
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