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Does the NHL commissioner need to be free from owners' control?

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Old
12-08-2012, 09:53 PM
  #1
LadyStanley
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Does the NHL commissioner need to be free from owners' control?

http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/range...ontent=Rangers

20 years ago, the office of NHL commissioner was proposed. The emphasis was to be on the growth of the game.

Quote:
The idea proposed here was that an NHL commissioner should be “The Decider”, the tie-breaking third vote in a triumvirate with a president of the franchises and a union leader of the skating workers.

That Commissioner’s sole duty, his mandate, would be to further the best interest of hockey — not just the interests of the franchisees, nor just those of the laborers. He would be “The Protector of The Puck”. It would require the franchisees and the players to agree to submit to someone with irreproachable motives and judgement.
...
With current negotiations broken down without a restart date, that 20-year-old unimplemented blueprint is so obviously golden in hindsight that it ought to be the model for the future for this game, to prevent Hockey from remaining forever doomed to this vicious cycle of lockout, fan loss, lengthy recovery, followed by another lockout, alienating its fans on a too-regular basis.
Is the original ideal too idealistic to be realistic in the twenty-first century?

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12-08-2012, 10:16 PM
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Mayor Bee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyStanley View Post
http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/range...ontent=Rangers

20 years ago, the office of NHL commissioner was proposed. The emphasis was to be on the growth of the game.



Is the original ideal too idealistic to be realistic in the twenty-first century?
The original ideal was derived from MLB's original ideal; it's where the title came from. The National Commission was the body that made peace between the AL and NL and organized/sanctioned the World Series. The two league presidents joined with the chairman to form the Commission.

When Judge Landis was appointed, he made it conditional upon him actually becoming the Commission. The league presidents were reduced to their previous scope of powers, and Landis basically ruled like Louis XIV: "I am the state".

Ultimately, all commissioners since Landis more or less rule the same way. The role of the office has changed over time, as the issues went from mediating disputes and occasionally making a ruling to becoming all-encompassing. The success of a commissioner depends on the same conditions as a dictator.

Now, in the case of Landis, he's a good source because his reign has been so closely scrutinized. He was one of the only guys to realize the scope and devastation of gambling and fixing games, and the only one except Walter Johnson to stand up to the problem. His position on minor league baseball becoming a fiefdom was prophetic, but the manner in which he broke up the far systems was wrong. His stance on integration was absolutely wrong, but we must also consider the conditions of the time (Happy Chandler faced a 15-1 vote against integration, but overruled the 15 and allowed Jackie Robinson to play).

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12-08-2012, 10:19 PM
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I dont really know how such an office would work. Some sort of titular
"Ombudsman". Say a Ken Dryden type. Strikes me as rather toothless.

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12-08-2012, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
I dont really know how such an office would work. Some sort of titular
"Ombudsman". Say a Ken Dryden type. Strikes me as rather toothless.
I think if the original ideal were realized, it would involve the following.

NHLPA head (Fehr)
NHL head (Bettman)
A jointly-agreed upon neutral party. Ideally this would be a pragmatic and fair individual.

The first name that popped into my head for the last one wasn't Dryden or Gretzky or any of the standard names; it was actually Paul Kelly.

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12-08-2012, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
The success of a commissioner depends on the same conditions as a dictator.
Depending. I could see the other option being where the Commissioner just serves the same role as mediators, which is to say, is not very influential.

I think the proposition that a commissioner should be neutral in this context is a red herring. If it's not the commissioner, the owners will hire another representative, and we'll be in the same position. It's called labor conflict for a reason. There may be a variety of reasons to be upset with this negotiation, but its essential character as a battle of partisans shouldn't be one of them. That's just in the nature of things.

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12-08-2012, 10:24 PM
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It's not going to work.

First of all the players are employees. Transient and replaceable. There is no reason why they should have as much to say when it comes to running the league as those that own the teams and risk their money doing so. If it would happen in any other business North Americans would scream "communism" as high as they could.

Second, there is no such thing as a truly impartial person that can hover above it all and just care about the game and the NYPost suggestions including Gretzky and Lemieux is laughable.

Third, can NY Post please stop using the phrase "third owners Lockout" in every article. We know they are pro-PA shills through what they write. They don't have to use a language illustrating it too.

Fourth, what will prevent future conflict is both sides not going in this with conflict as a goal. At this stage I can only see one way of getting there. Make conflict so expensive that neither side will dare to take it that far. The easiest way would probably be to include some poison pill that would be a very bad outcome for both sides that would have to be eaten if both sides can't agree on a new CBA before the old one expires. Hockey's financial cliff. It'll never happen because the players are all too happy fighting old battles and the owners are all too happy wanting to spend months getting small concessions from the players.

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12-08-2012, 10:29 PM
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It would be nice to have an actual commissioner. The guy they have now really fills the role of a league president, with expanded executive powers. He represents the owners, not the players and not the game.

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12-08-2012, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
I think if the original ideal were realized, it would involve the following.

NHLPA head (Fehr)
NHL head (Bettman)
A jointly-agreed upon neutral party. Ideally this would be a pragmatic and fair individual.

The first name that popped into my head for the last one wasn't Dryden or Gretzky or any of the standard names; it was actually Paul Kelly.
It sounds to me, from the OP, that the in the original idea the Commissioner was supposed to be that 3rd party between the NHL and the NHLPA.

Now it is pretty clear that today the office is representative of the owners.

A committee of Dryden, Gretzky and lets say Keenan for S&G's might be better than just appointing just one person.

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12-08-2012, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freudian View Post
It's not going to work.

First of all the players are employees. Transient and replaceable. There is no reason why they should have as much to say when it comes to running the league as those that own the teams and risk their money doing so. If it would happen in any other business North Americans would scream "communism" as high as they could.

Second, there is no such thing as a truly impartial person that can hover above it all and just care about the game and the NYPost suggestions including Gretzky and Lemieux is laughable.

Third, can NY Post please stop using the phrase "third owners Lockout" in every article. We know they are pro-PA shills through what they write. They don't have to use a language illustrating it too.

Fourth, what will prevent future conflict is both sides not going in this with conflict as a goal. At this stage I can only see one way of getting there. Make conflict so expensive that neither side will dare to take it that far. The easiest way would probably be to include some poison pill that would be a very bad outcome for both sides that would have to be eaten if both sides can't agree on a new CBA before the old one expires. Hockey's financial cliff. It'll never happen because the players are all too happy fighting old battles and the owners are all too happy wanting to spend months getting small concessions from the players.
Gotta keep the soundbites coming. Can't piss off the sources.

I don't read the post are they really that bad?

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12-08-2012, 11:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freudian View Post
Fourth, what will prevent future conflict is both sides not going in this with conflict as a goal. At this stage I can only see one way of getting there. Make conflict so expensive that neither side will dare to take it that far. The easiest way would probably be to include some poison pill that would be a very bad outcome for both sides that would have to be eaten if both sides can't agree on a new CBA before the old one expires. Hockey's financial cliff. It'll never happen because the players are all too happy fighting old battles and the owners are all too happy wanting to spend months getting small concessions from the players.

I really like this idea. These idiots need a deadline during the summer before the CBA expires.

Something like this would be the olive branch to the fans to ensure another lockout or strike ever happens again. Make it something as crazy as possible like if no CBA is reached an automatic 75% reduction to players salaries is enacted. For the owners, all ticket prices revert to $1 and concessions have to be sold at cost.

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12-08-2012, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
The first name that popped into my head for the last one wasn't Dryden or Gretzky or any of the standard names; it was actually Paul Kelly.
Interesting & provocative suggestion.

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12-09-2012, 01:06 AM
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Originally Posted by charliolemieux View Post
It sounds to me, from the OP, that the in the original idea the Commissioner was supposed to be that 3rd party between the NHL and the NHLPA.

Now it is pretty clear that today the office is representative of the owners.
No. That's the opinion of the OP / the Post's Everson.

The role of the NHL Commissioner - as added to the NHL Constitution when Bettman was hired - was never supposed to be or envisioned as anything other than an executive hired by the BoG to execute their interests.

And there is no way that the BoG would ever cede any authority like that to someone who was not under their control.

MLB only did it as a desperation PR move in the wake of the Black Sox scandal - and over time the powers that Landis has diminished as subsequent commissioners knew who appointed them and who their continuing appointment relied on. Those that didn't were quickly replaced.

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12-09-2012, 02:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freudian View Post
It's not going to work.
It's not going to work because the owners have power and won't give it up. Period.

Quote:
First of all the players are employees. Transient and replaceable. There is no reason why they should have as much to say when it comes to running the league as those that own the teams and risk their money doing so. If it would happen in any other business North Americans would scream "communism" as high as they could.
Owners are also transient. The league, if this lockout doesn't destroy it, will outlast every owner.


Quote:
Second, there is no such thing as a truly impartial person that can hover above it all and just care about the game and the NYPost suggestions including Gretzky and Lemieux is laughable.
Not that I think Gretzky or Lemieux or Dryden are good fits, but what about them make the idea "laughable?"


Quote:
Third, can NY Post please stop using the phrase "third owners Lockout" in every article. We know they are pro-PA shills through what they write. They don't have to use a language illustrating it too.
Owners voted for the lockout. Fact.
Owners voted to cancel games: Fact.
Owners have done this THREE TIMES: Fact

[mod]

This is like when politicians cut education spending to give business a tax cut, and then they get offended when their opposition says "They cut funding for kids to pay for tax cuts for businesses."

If you can't own up to the fact that "your side" created, voted for and is responsible for the lockout, then you're reasons for supporting the lockout must be incredible shallow.

If you believe the lockout is just... fine. Say it. I support the owners' decision to lockout the players and cancel hockey because ... xxxxx

If you believe it, own it.


Last edited by mouser: 12-09-2012 at 12:11 PM. Reason: no need for name calling
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12-09-2012, 02:06 AM
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How does one define the "best interests of the game" ??

If the league is healthy and the game is growing then is that not in the "best interests of the game"?

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12-09-2012, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Riptide View Post
How does one define the "best interests of the game" ??

If the league is healthy and the game is growing then is that not in the "best interests of the game"?
It's clearly not healthy though.

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12-09-2012, 02:26 AM
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It's clearly not healthy though.
And if the PA allowed the league to make the changes it would like, I'm sure it would be healthier.

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12-09-2012, 02:37 AM
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And if the PA allowed the league to make the changes it would like, I'm sure it would be healthier.
With 27 teams "not making real money" they couldn't do much worse.

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12-09-2012, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riptide View Post
How does one define the "best interests of the game" ??

If the league is healthy and the game is growing then is that not in the "best interests of the game"?
I was thinking the same thing. What exactly does this mean? There will always be problem children in any league no matter what. And if we define it by growth of the game, name me another time in history that hockey has had this much exposure.

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12-09-2012, 07:41 AM
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In best interest of the "game" would be that Owners get 60% of the revenue and put 20% of it in revenue sharing, and Players get screwed.

That is not best interest of the players.

Which is why i think its ridiculous anyone ever says "Best interest of the game".

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12-09-2012, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by DyerMaker66 View Post
With 27 teams "not making real money" they couldn't do much worse.
This should be a real wake up call for everyone involved...the league is not healthy at all...

Habs,Leafs, and Rangers have 83% of the bottom line, amazing...

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12-09-2012, 10:07 AM
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In best interest of the "game" would be that Owners get 60% of the revenue and put 20% of it in revenue sharing, and Players get screwed.

That is not best interest of the players.

Which is why i think its ridiculous anyone ever says "Best interest of the game".
It's in the best interest of the game to screw he people who play at its highest level?

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12-09-2012, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Interesting & provocative suggestion.
You summed me up in three words.

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Originally Posted by Riptide View Post
How does one define the "best interests of the game" ??

If the league is healthy and the game is growing then is that not in the "best interests of the game"?
Using MLB as the precedent, "the best interests of the game" was something that was rarely exercised but basically served as dictatorial powers. Landis used it to clean up the game, but refused to use it on integration. Chandler didn't need to use it to clean up the game, but did use it on integration. Bowie Kuhn used it to outlaw the sale of contracts, which I find to be incredibly short-sighted and damaging. In the NHL, I think Bettman used it to veto the Ziggy Palffy trade to the Rangers, as well as the Lecavalier trade to Montreal. In the NFL, Bert Bell used it in dealing with players accused of gambling in the 1940s, and Pete Rozelle with the same in the 1960s.

"The best interests of the game" is a lot like the judgment in the Jacobellis v. Ohio court case, which dealt with pornography. Justice Potter Stewart famously wrote in his concurrence that, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it."

In short, there is no definition of "the best interests of the game". I don't believe it possible for there to be one. That's why having strong leadership with a strong knowledge of history is vital. The Kuhn decision on sale of contracts, for example, was short-sighted by someone who was typically short-sighted (this showed in other things that he refused to address). In sports, there are two liquid forms of currency: draft picks and cash. MLB doesn't allow draft picks to be traded, never have and possibly never will. Kuhn unilaterally outlawing the sale of contracts while maintaining the ban on trade of draft picks was incredibly short-sighted, and dare I say continued a trend toward competitive imbalance that directly flies in the face of the best interests of any North American pro league. He did it because of a personal feud with Charlie Finley, who was himself entirely wrong in the matter as well.

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12-09-2012, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by LSnow View Post
In best interest of the "game" would be that Owners get 60% of the revenue and put 20% of it in revenue sharing, and Players get screwed.

That is not best interest of the players.

Which is why i think its ridiculous anyone ever says "Best interest of the game".
A strong leader would recognize the following statement to be true: a league cannot exist without the financial backing of the owners, and the owners would have nothing to back without the best players on the ice.

Complementary relationships exist all over the place, whether in business/employee relationships or in industry/industry relationships. The oil and refining industry would be nothing without an automotive industry, and the automotive industry would be nothing without an oil and refining industry. This exists in pro sports as well.

With this in mind, the two goals of a dictatorial commissioner in the NHL would be:
- Franchise stability, most likely through an ambitious revenue-sharing plan (which would make the owners a bit unhappy)
- Ensuring competitive balance, which would most likely come through restrictions on player movement and salary (which would make the players a bit unhappy)

But this is nothing new. This is what the NFL did starting in the 1920s and 1930s, which is why the popularity and revenues grow year after year while everyone else has suffered through lean periods (due to the other leagues' failure to do so). The NBA will eventually be undone by the internal tampering that the Miami Heat made popular a couple years back, and an otherwise good commissioner with a gaping blind spot (David Stern) is directly responsible.

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12-09-2012, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSnow View Post
In best interest of the "game" would be that Owners get 60% of the revenue and put 20% of it in revenue sharing, and Players get screwed.

That is not best interest of the players.

Which is why i think its ridiculous anyone ever says "Best interest of the game".
Here's another subjective question. If the owners have stable teams, and everyone is making tons of money (owners and players)... are the players getting screwed?

We would not see the NHL locking out it's players every CBA if the owners collectively were pocketing millions (2-3 times what they are now).

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12-09-2012, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Riptide View Post
Here's another subjective question. If the owners have stable teams, and everyone is making tons of money (owners and players)... are the players getting screwed?

We would not see the NHL locking out it's players every CBA if the owners collectively were pocketing millions (2-3 times what they are now).
Pretty much. Players need to recognize that their fortunes are tied to the fortunes of the owners whether they like it or not -- take too much, and franchises become unhealthy, and it becomes harder to find good owners. They need to keep their demands modest, and in line with a reasonable understanding of what the owners' revenues look like. The same desire to take all they can get that makes them the best they can be in a jersey on the ice, doesn't work when you're wearing a suit in a negotiating room. Not only can't you win 'em all, you shouldn't.

It is a lot easier to justify stiffing the players than it is to justify stiffing the owners right now for several reasons. That tells me that the players have too much power in the league and they need to be pulled back in a bit, in the best interest of the league. In short, the players need to lose this one, and hiring Fehr who would rather die than sign a disadvantageous contract, is the worst decision they could possibly have made.

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