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07-14-2010, 01:56 AM
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New NHLPA Executive Director to be Hired (...an off-seaon thread)

The NHL lockout was heart wrenching for fans and players alike. There is a general consensus that the owners 'won' because they got the salary cap in place. In reality, we as fans won because the game is better when all teams have a chance to compete under the cap, and more teams are on stable financial footing as a result.

In the months following the cancellation, the players gathered together and released their own Executive Director and have been reworking their by-laws and organization since. Now we get this note from the Canadian Press today:
NHL players hoping Fehr takes union job

This is the same Donald Fehr that took the MLB players association through the strike in 94-94 that canceled the World Series. Here is a little redacted and enhanced explanation of the strike from that venerable source, Wikipedia.
Owners sold a salary cap in response to the worsening financial situation in baseball claiming small-market clubs would fall by the wayside, and unveiled a proposal on June 14, 1994. The proposal would guarantee a record $1 Billion in salary and benefits to players, but forced clubs to fit their payrolls into a more evenly based structure. Salary arbitration would have been eliminated but Unrestricted Free Agency would begin after four years rather than six. Further, and owners would have retained the right to keep a four or five year Restricted Free Agent player by matching the best offer from another team.


Major League Baseball Players Association leader Donald Fehr rejected the offer from the owners on July 18. Fehr believed that a salary cap was simply a way for owners to clean up their own disparity problems with no benefit to the players.
My experience with the Baseball Players Association was there was nothing more than a rancorous clamor each and every time the CBA came up from the players association for more and more and more. What we are left with in Baseball is a negotiated structure that allows a team like the Yankees to dominate the payroll structures and teams like Kansas City and the A's left to picking up the crumbs of the large market teams.


Here are several questions to ponder and answer. Pick any of them:
  • How do you feel Fehr will fit into hockey?
  • Do you believe the baseball CBA is a viable model for the NHL?
  • What parallels can you draw between the existing NHL CBA, and what baseball lost a season over?
  • What do you think the players are trying to accomplish by hiring Fehr who has a reputation as being unbending as their new Executive Director?
  • What in the CBA might change with him in place?
  • General comments about the CBA's current fairness and lack are also worth noting here.

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07-14-2010, 02:08 AM
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Awwww homework!!?!?!?! haha, just kidding. Thoughtful topic... thanks.

If Fehr Fehr believed that a salary cap was simply a way for owners to clean up their own disparity problems with no benefit to the players, then I'm afraid we'll be in trouble, or more specifically the NHL as a whole. The NHL is always worried about its marketability in the USA. Take the salary cap out and end up with "Royals" and "A's" teams and it'll be even harder to market.

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07-14-2010, 10:03 AM
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Donald Fehr and I are both alums of the same law school so it's nice for all of us alums to see our high profile alum do well (Well, highest profile for the law school since President Truman).

That said, I worry that Fehr will drive the NHLPA to a strike. He plays hardball (no pun intended). My hope is that Fehr sees how the MLB 94 strike hurt baseball and how the NHL lockout really hurt the NHL, and that the NHL (and really, it's players who he will represent) cannot afford another work stoppage in terms of gaining "market share" in the United States. Not saying that he can't take tough stances and be a master negotiator, but the major portions of the current CBA should stay relatively intact, with only Fehr's prowess coming into play for minor tweaks that benefit players.

If that is how it will play out, landing Donald Fehr would be a great move for the NHLPA. But whenever Fehr is involved, you have to fear the worst.

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07-14-2010, 11:29 AM
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Definitely off topic for the Sharks board .

It's been under discussion on the BOH for months (just search on Fehr for the two major threads).

Latest thread:
http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=791577

I don't need to type more as I've already done it for the BOH.

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07-14-2010, 11:44 AM
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I would really worry about the NHL's reamaining market share if somebody like Donald Fehr were to become a part of the negotiation process.

Like any other union negotiation, the parties involved need to work together to create an agreement that provides the greatest success for the league while sharing a fair amount of the profits with the players because both sides will benefit most from a financially successful leage. The current structure does a good job of doing this by tieing salaries directly to income. This is the core principle that should be carried over to the next contract if nothing else.

If there is another work stoppage because of either the union or the management, the NHL will lose even more popularity which, frankly, it cannot afford. I fear that Fehr doesn't see things this way, therefore I do not want him to play any role in the NHL or NHLPA.

The baseball CBA is a poor model for the NHL mainly because of the NHL's priority of continuing survival in non traditional markets. Any team in a new hockey market will needs to be able to compete on a level playing field to attract popularity. The current CBA is perfect for this. My problem is that the NHL should not force teams to struggle in non profitable areas when they could financially secure themselves in other markets like Portland, OR. Sure, expansion to new areas is a good way to expand a brand, but how long should an area be unsuccessfully marketed to before it is considered a failure?

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07-14-2010, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ChompChomp View Post
Donald Fehr and I are both alums of the same law school so it's nice for all of us alums to see our high profile alum do well (Well, highest profile for the law school since President Truman).

That said, I worry that Fehr will drive the NHLPA to a strike. He plays hardball (no pun intended). My hope is that Fehr sees how the MLB 94 strike hurt baseball and how the NHL lockout really hurt the NHL, and that the NHL (and really, it's players who he will represent) cannot afford another work stoppage in terms of gaining "market share" in the United States. Not saying that he can't take tough stances and be a master negotiator, but the major portions of the current CBA should stay relatively intact, with only Fehr's prowess coming into play for minor tweaks that benefit players.

If that is how it will play out, landing Donald Fehr would be a great move for the NHLPA. But whenever Fehr is involved, you have to fear the worst.
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07-14-2010, 01:13 PM
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http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sport...medium=twitter
Article on new constitution approved by NHLPA executive committee and update on new leadership (won't be final until the fall).

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07-14-2010, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Los Tiburones View Post
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That's right, in fact, I aced Randolph's property class as a 1L a long, long time ago.

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07-14-2010, 04:58 PM
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The part that I find the most interesting, is the deal baseballs owners offered the players back in the day, sounds a lot like what is presently in place with the NHL ... UFA's earlier, RFA with club match, total cap on salaries, etc. But that wasn't good enough for the Players Union. Feher canceled the season and the post season over it and displaced a lot of fans. In fact, a life long A's fan until then - I haven't been to a game since. Why? Because hockey was here and I've never looked back on the game since. I just hope Feher isn't going to use the same tactics.

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07-14-2010, 05:44 PM
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The only thing that I think might be a good idea would be having a soft cap on top, with a huge luxury tax. So big market teams could spend more, they would just pay more to the small market teams. Because of the minimum cap, this would be good for the players, as the small market teams could not just pocket the money.

This would also reward the big market teams, Toronto, Montreal, (Chicago at the moment). It would still be wise to not just throw money at the talent though as hockey is a true team sport.

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07-14-2010, 06:12 PM
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Can't we just shut down NHLPA?

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07-14-2010, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgood View Post
The only thing that I think might be a good idea would be having a soft cap on top, with a huge luxury tax. So big market teams could spend more, they would just pay more to the small market teams. Because of the minimum cap, this would be good for the players, as the small market teams could not just pocket the money.

This would also reward the big market teams, Toronto, Montreal, (Chicago at the moment). It would still be wise to not just throw money at the talent though as hockey is a true team sport.
This scenario would basically turn the league into the NBA.

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07-14-2010, 07:04 PM
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Can't we just shut down NHLPA?
So, you want to go to a NHL game without players?

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07-14-2010, 09:41 PM
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So, you want to go to a NHL game without players?
I think he means an NHL with no union for players.

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07-14-2010, 09:47 PM
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The part that I find the most interesting, is the deal baseballs owners offered the players back in the day, sounds a lot like what is presently in place with the NHL ... UFA's earlier, RFA with club match, total cap on salaries, etc. But that wasn't good enough for the Players Union. Feher canceled the season and the post season over it and displaced a lot of fans. In fact, a life long A's fan until then - I haven't been to a game since. Why? Because hockey was here and I've never looked back on the game since. I just hope Feher isn't going to use the same tactics.
Same here only a Giants fan. The game lost me after that strike. Football would have lost me if not for the DVR. The Stick sucks and the amount of commercialism has killed it on TV for me. I will only watch the Niners and Playoffs. Hockey still has my full attention, however I am starting to get annoyed by some of the commercialization. The digital ads on boards that flicker on TV and to some extent the in play ads are starting to bother me with hockey broadcasts.

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07-14-2010, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgood View Post
The only thing that I think might be a good idea would be having a soft cap on top, with a huge luxury tax. So big market teams could spend more, they would just pay more to the small market teams. Because of the minimum cap, this would be good for the players, as the small market teams could not just pocket the money.

This would also reward the big market teams, Toronto, Montreal, (Chicago at the moment). It would still be wise to not just throw money at the talent though as hockey is a true team sport.
Big market teams get the benefit of wider fan bases, a bias with National TV broadcasts, the potential for larger arenas and revenue, advertising etc. The whole luxury tax thing didn't help the Expo's and almost killed the Twins as well. When big market teams get the flexibility to spend more, they get more options and tip the balance of competition.

The one thing you can say about the NHL is the owners really stuck together in the strike. One can only presume that they really did believe the majority of the teams would not be on financially stable ground without the addition of the cap. Fehr's comment about the cap in baseball was the same one we heard about the NHL cap; "It was all about protecting owners from each other."

At this stage with the product better than its been in years, the balance of competition stronger, no more talk of disadvantaged Canadian teams (and maybe expansion into Canada), and the cap increased what ... $14M per team since the work-stoppage ended, who is going to argue that the CBA has hurt the players, or the teams? Answer: Donald Fehr if he gets into the act.

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07-14-2010, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by The Nemesis View Post
This scenario would basically turn the league into the NBA.
IMO - getting the players and teams into revenue sharing ... split a growing pie instead of arguing over your own slice of it, makes for the most economically sound business approach. Revenues go up? Salaries go up and visa versa. The NHL is the only one with that right now - at least the closest to keeping both parties on the same side of the table financially. The rest of the 'major sports' have far worse CBA's and it shows in the product on the fields and courts.

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07-14-2010, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by WineShark View Post
IMO - getting the players and teams into revenue sharing ... split a growing pie instead of arguing over your own slice of it, makes for the most economically sound business approach. Revenues go up? Salaries go up and visa versa. The NHL is the only one with that right now - at least the closest to keeping both parties on the same side of the table financially. The rest of the 'major sports' have far worse CBA's and it shows in the product on the fields and courts.
That's not what I'm referring to. The problem with a soft cap and luxury tax setup is that it is just a smokescreen for the inequities that exist under an uncapped system. Big markets that have deep pocketed owners are going to be willing to eat the luxury tax in order to exceed the cap limit. And look at what's happening to the NBA. The number of teams that can legitimately compete is shrunken because being able to exceed the cap if you can pay for it becomes a crutch for poor salary management. Yes it will keep things from going the total MLB route, but it doesn't keep things in check the way an NFL or NHL type hard cap does.

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07-15-2010, 12:56 AM
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That's not what I'm referring to. The problem with a soft cap and luxury tax setup is that it is just a smokescreen for the inequities that exist under an uncapped system. Big markets that have deep pocketed owners are going to be willing to eat the luxury tax in order to exceed the cap limit. And look at what's happening to the NBA. The number of teams that can legitimately compete is shrunken because being able to exceed the cap if you can pay for it becomes a crutch for poor salary management. Yes it will keep things from going the total MLB route, but it doesn't keep things in check the way an NFL or NHL type hard cap does.
I was actually agreeing with you ... maybe didn't read that way. But revenue sharing is about what we have as a cap structure. Go with a luxury tax, and you may as well not have a cap at all. Small market teams relocate, look for cities to support stadiums to transfer money from public to private sector.

I haven't seen any research, but I have to believe the NHL Players as a whole make a lot more money today than they did before the cap was installed.

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07-17-2010, 08:10 PM
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I was actually agreeing with you ... maybe didn't read that way. But revenue sharing is about what we have as a cap structure. Go with a luxury tax, and you may as well not have a cap at all. Small market teams relocate, look for cities to support stadiums to transfer money from public to private sector.

I haven't seen any research, but I have to believe the NHL Players as a whole make a lot more money today than they did before the cap was installed.
My bad. I somehow managed to misread your statement as supporting some kind of modified NBA-styled format of CBA

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07-17-2010, 11:01 PM
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During the last lockout Fehr was publically dismayed when the union caved on the cap demand. I can't believe that he has changed his stance. IMO, he may cost the NHL the chance of passing the NBA when they go out on strike. It looks like the NHL may be the only game in town if they continue to play while the NFL and NBA strike. It has to be equitable for owners as there are fewer whose pockets are so deep that they can sustain teams for a decade and more while losing $10mil or more per year. It is like watching the parameters of wealth transfer between two very wealthy sets of people (owners and players). I really look to see what each agreement does for marginal players in each league.

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07-18-2010, 04:14 PM
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I didn't hear Fehr's position on the strike so thanks for bringing it up. Its consistent with what I would expect him to say.

You'd think a player association would take the approach that it wants the most for its players ... number of players times average salary. That would mean growing the pie and making the game better so more players can play in more cities. And in the case of hockey where its 'butts in the stands," selling out more arenas. Staying as far away from the Yankee's and baseballs salary structure makes the most sense to me, but thats what Fehr has negotiated. Does anyone know what the salary growth has been per team since the work stoppage? Isn't it something like $15M (35%)? Doesn't seem the players or the game have suffered.

Most PA's seem to take the limited view of getting a bigger part of the pie and ignoring the businesses are losing money. They want their share of wealth transfers from municipalities building arena's and are fine with the notion the owners should put more capital in to support the teams. That to me seems like what Fehr would advocate; an us against them approach.

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07-19-2010, 03:19 AM
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My quick thoughts:

Fehr doesn't have the same situation in the NHL as he did in MLB.

Most MLB players are from the US and Latin America, with a few from Asia. MLB is the ONLY significant pro baseball league and the only one with significant pay. The players union controlled 100% of pro baseball talent.

Many hockey players are from Europe, with strong hockey programs in Europe and Russia. Some top-ish players are already choosing to play in the KHL or Swedish leagues over the NHL. Fehr may believe this makes the union stronger due to its member's ability to generate income from other sources and withstand work stoppages. However, the NHLPA does not have the same monopoly on talent as MLB did.

The NHL in 2010 is no where near where MLB was in 1994.

Owners, fans, players, and hopefully Fehr know that the sport cannot withstand another work stoppage. It's already trailing the NFL, MLB, and NBA. It's already behind NASCAR in many parts of the US and I'd argue casual sports fans pay more attention to MMA than the NHL. (All my opinion here).

The question will boil down to this: Will players who already gave up a year of salary in 2005 be willing to give up another year of both play-time and salary? My guess is the veterans will not want to do that. My other guess is that the younger stars such as Crosby and Ovechkin will want to make sure the NHL does not have a work stoppage, and are probably happy with the $10M/yr they're making and the $500k/yr league min. My guess is that after the whole Penny thing, the players are going to have a lot more say in the negotations this time around, and both young and old will not want a work stoppage. My guess is the owners are prepared for Fehr-mayhem, and instead of a missed season would have a replacement plan in place, trying to copy NFL owners success.

Just my thoughts, tho.

Also: I disagree with the premise the players got screwed in the last strike. They kept guaranteed contracts, which is a lot better than the NFL did. And the NBA isn't a good comparison because there's only 20 or so players that actually matter. MLB is the gold standard for player's unions, but as a fan I hate the inequity in the whole system. Also, they play 10billion games per year and sell out stadiums a lot larger than hockey arenas.

If Fehr is smart, he'll get some wins this time around, but wait for the sport to grow more and try to get his big win in the following CBA.


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07-19-2010, 12:59 PM
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My quick thoughts:

Fehr doesn't have the same situation in the NHL as he did in MLB.

Most MLB players are from the US and Latin America, with a few from Asia. MLB is the ONLY significant pro baseball league and the only one with significant pay. The players union controlled 100% of pro baseball talent.

Many hockey players are from Europe, with strong hockey programs in Europe and Russia. Some top-ish players are already choosing to play in the KHL or Swedish leagues over the NHL. Fehr may believe this makes the union stronger due to its member's ability to generate income from other sources and withstand work stoppages. However, the NHLPA does not have the same monopoly on talent as MLB did.

The NHL in 2010 is no where near where MLB was in 1994.

Owners, fans, players, and hopefully Fehr know that the sport cannot withstand another work stoppage. It's already trailing the NFL, MLB, and NBA. It's already behind NASCAR in many parts of the US and I'd argue casual sports fans pay more attention to MMA than the NHL. (All my opinion here).

The question will boil down to this: Will players who already gave up a year of salary in 2005 be willing to give up another year of both play-time and salary? My guess is the veterans will not want to do that. My other guess is that the younger stars such as Crosby and Ovechkin will want to make sure the NHL does not have a work stoppage, and are probably happy with the $10M/yr they're making and the $500k/yr league min. My guess is that after the whole Penny thing, the players are going to have a lot more say in the negotations this time around, and both young and old will not want a work stoppage. My guess is the owners are prepared for Fehr-mayhem, and instead of a missed season would have a replacement plan in place, trying to copy NFL owners success.

Just my thoughts, tho.

Also: I disagree with the premise the players got screwed in the last strike. They kept guaranteed contracts, which is a lot better than the NFL did. And the NBA isn't a good comparison because there's only 20 or so players that actually matter. MLB is the gold standard for player's unions, but as a fan I hate the inequity in the whole system. Also, they play 10billion games per year and sell out stadiums a lot larger than hockey arenas.

If Fehr is smart, he'll get some wins this time around, but wait for the sport to grow more and try to get his big win in the following CBA.
I think your thoughts are very reasonable as to the situation. I am not sure Fehr's are the same. I don't think Fehr will wait long; he is pretty close to absolute retirement.

Some small additions. Initially, it looked as if the CBA would favor the small guys with the substantial hike in the minimum. With escrow and salary escalation, they are right back where they were. There are a few like Crosby and AO where their NHL salary may only be half or less of their income. There are many more like JT, Spezza, Staal, Lidstrom, etc. where they are not getting the promotional income. Not necessarily from the names given, but it seems the squawks about the current agreement are coming from this group. Their ox is being gored by escrow. The reality is that the first and biggest hit was on the top earners in the last agreement. The lesser skilled vet group is getting the second hit now. The biggest benefit came to the second tier players like Savard, Pavelski, Kesler, etc.

Realistically and not necessarily Fehr's take, I would think the players would want a penalty on burying salaries in the minors. It does not sit well with active players to be paying out more escrow due to guys not skating in the NHL, nor does it sit well to be forced down because of poor roster decisions by management. The players also might want to take on the NTC/waiver issue. On the owner side, it would be to their benefit to move from a hard-coded 16mil salary range to a flexible range that changed with the cap, expanding when the cap goes up and contracting when it goes down. It would benefit the highest and lowest rev teams. An even larger sharing formula would also be beneficial. In a pinch, the owners should allow the players share to expand a percent or two if revenues went up yet again.

Edit: Forgot to add that they may want to put limits as to length or age on long term contracts. (see Kovy, Hossa)


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07-25-2010, 01:37 PM
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http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/devil...c5Mu0780RP4I/1

Ignoring Larry Brooks' petty sniping at Bettman, this piece is interesting:


Quote:
Several well-placed sources within the last three days have told Slap Shots that is becoming less and less likely Donald Fehr will assume a position at or near the top of the NHLPA masthead when the search committee recommends a candidate to fill the position of executive director.


Fehr remains an advisor who has consulted with the PA regarding Kovalchuk, but questions have arisen regarding his involvement in last summer's messy firing of Paul Kelly.


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