by Zigz l Monday, December 10, 2012
NHL games now canceled through Dec. 30th... thought this was a great read... even mentioned Weber. Time to take off the homer glasses and realize the only ones who "do it for the fans", are the fans themselves. I really don't even care anymore if there is a hockey season this year... and that's sad in itself. -zigz
By Via Dallas Stars Blog:
There is no moral high ground in NHL lockout — It’s all business
I’ve generally stayed on the sideline in this lockout for a couple of reasons. I reported the last one on a day-to-day basis, and it was incredibly wasteful and frustrating. So, this year, the paper is trying to use the limited resources it has to cover games that are being played. They took the same philosophy last year with the NBA lockout, and they felt that worked well.
Generally speaking, people get tired of this lockout stuff.
But, as I peruse Twitter or read stories online, I find myself facing the same frustration I did last time — and much of it is in the way that the two sides portray themselves or in the way that media members and fans choose sides and defend their positions.
It’s my feeling that neither side has a position that can be defended.
This is purely a business negotiation. This is like buying a house or haggling at a garage sale … or negotiating a professional sports contract.
And that’s where I’ll fire the first shot.
Can the players stop saying that they’re being bullied, that they are the ones doing all of the giving, and that this just isn’t fair? Because all of that is wrong. Let’s reverse the situation and see how they feel about the system. Do their agents do everything they can to secure as much money as they can from the owners in pretty much every negotiation? Heck yes, that’s their job.
So did Brad Richards “bully” the Stars when he refused to waive his no-trade clause, made sure to let the media know this was not his fault, and then sat in a high office while teams vied for free agent services? Did he manipulate the fans’ hearts or treat them unfairly? No, he earned the ability to use every tool that is given to unrestricted free agents.
Were Ryan Suter and Zach Parise being “greedy” when they took 13-year contracts from Minnesota for $98 million, leaving fans in Nashville and New Jersey high and dry? Was that fair? Who cares, the agents will tell you, it was within the rules of the CBA. They are worth what they get.
“Well, just stop paying them, stop offering these contracts,” fans and critics will say. But owners can’t. Just watch baseball free agency right now. Owners will spend what they’re allowed to spend, and the ones that don’t spend will be chastised by their fans for not going the distance, for being cheap. That’s why the league is so intent on changing the CBA rules, so it can force owners to stop spending.
“But the owners are asking for too much back,” the players or agents say. “We’ve given until it hurts.” “What do we get out of this?”
Well, first off, you get half of HRR. That seems like a pretty fair deal. Secondly, you are not negotiating off of the last contract. You wouldn’t do that in a player negation, you would negotiate off a “comparable” contract. Kari Lehtonen is in the last season of a deal that averages $3.55 million. His next deal will average $5.9 million. What does one have to do with the other? Nothing.
What matters is that Lehtonen wants to get paid what the other comparable goalies in the league make. Is it fair that he could make such a huge raise over his last contract? It’s how the system works.
The NHL made the mistake of trying to appear to be negotiating off the old deal. It shouldn’t have. That deal is dead. It means nothing. What matters is the NHL is comparing CBA numbers from the NFL and the NBA systems, while the players are trying to get a system closer to that used in MLB.
Who will win? We’ll see. But saying you are doing all the giving rings pretty hollow when the players do most of the taking whenever there is a contract negotiation.
Had Jamie Benn signed a contract extension two years ago, he probably would have averaged somewhere around $4 million a season. Now, there’s a chance his next deal will average $6 million a year. Is that fair? Is he concerned about the Stars’ budget or whether or not Tom Gaglardi makes money? Heck no. He wants the going rate.
The owners want the same thing.
But they are making plenty of their own mistakes. They are not doing this for lower ticket prices or the health of the league or even to help out fellow owners. They are doing this because they can. They have made a calculated risk that they can bounce back from a work stoppage if they get a good enough deal. Yes, there will be damage in the short term, but that damage will be worth it if they get a great deal that lasts 10 years. Then, they will make more money, and they will have better control over their own employees, and they hope that the sport still can grow and thrive.
They are risking that the fans will eventually forgive them, because that’s what happened the last time.
And they are pushing the boundaries of that strategy with their actions right now. When the owners walked away last week, they showed too much emotion. You should never “pull the deal off the table.” That’s an immature decision, and it adds to the contentious atmosphere of the negotiations.
Players say the owners started that atmosphere with their first harsh offer (which most feel was a mistake now), but the players added to the contentious atmosphere when they replaced Paul Kelly with Donald Fehr. Kelly’s strategy was to establish a friendly relationship with Gary Bettman and then negotiate the best deal he could while not losing any games. He was in talks years ago to avoid this situation. But the Players clearly were not comfortable with that strategy, so now they get what they wanted all along — a battle in which they will not be pushed around.
It’s a cold, brutal, business negotiation, and to characterize it any other way is silly.
Shea Weber and agent Jarrett Bousquet made one of the most aggressive moves in NHL contract history last summer. They acquired an offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers for $110 million over 14 years that would make Weber the highest paid player in the league whenever they return to play. He is due $14 million in salary and $13 million in signing bonus for four straight seasons.
It was a kick in the gut to a small-market team like Nashville, which had already lost Suter. The Predators have a tight budget, but they have a great system, they build defensemen, and they compete “the right way.” Heck, Weber was only the 49th pick in the 2003 draft, but the Predators and their coaches helped make him one of the best defensemen in the NHL.
So, shouldn’t Weber reward the team with a fair and reasonable contract? I mean, all the Predators have done is give and give and give. Where does all this greed and bullying end? If Weber was worried about the future of the team, he would have signed a deal that fit the Predators, or signed a one-year deal and then let the Predators trade him.
But he didn’t. Weber made the decision (with the help of the Flyers) to take every penny he could get. And Bousquet then had the nerve to ask for a “no-trade” clause to be added to the deal, because it wasn’t included in the original offer sheet.
Is it fair? Is it right? It’s business.
And everyone needs to acknowledge that. They’re all big boys, they all know what they’re doing, they all want the most money. That’s what this is about.