The Owners Are Upset Because They Can’t Eat the Players’ Cake and Fuck Them Too…

The most complicated contracts generally come down to simple and core principles. I was pleased to finally see some emotion in these negotiations. The fact Gary Bettman looked like he may cry tells me there is finally some traction. The players and Donald Fehr have gotten the owners and Bettman’s attention. About that time. There are lots of clichés for this. Getting down to the brass tacks. Rubber meeting the road. And so forth. I like to equate it to undressing a woman but that is a discussion for another day.



These two words are at the core of nearly every negotiation about money.

How much and for how long.

An at-will employee gets the how much but has no security on the how long. However, the at-will employee can also leave for a better paying position any damn time he or she wants.

A contract employee gets more security and loses some freedom but he or she has free negotiation skills. The market (supply and demand) controls the dollar and term. There are no artificial barriers.

An NHL player needs to pay his dues to earn a big pay-day and, if he is fortunate enough to do so, maximize his earnings for as long as possible. Let’s face it, these guys don’t have a whole lot to fall back on. They need to take care of themselves and their own and the money needs to last for a lifetime.

Under the current CBA, that happens. A player signs an entry-level contract, the NHL club gets him for 3 years at a bargain if he is a good to great player and discards him if he is a bad one. The talented player then receives the benefit of his hard work and innate talent by getting the big contract. If the NHL Club offers too little, the player can exercise his options and sign elsewhere, subject to artificial restricted free agency limitations. If the NHL Club doesn’t offer a long enough term, same option.

What is the biggest hurdle the player has to getting a big pay-day for a long time? If you guessed the “salary cap”, you nailed it. Every club is governed by it and, therefore, it acts as a ceiling to what a player can realistically get. “Want to play for a winner?” Well then he may have to take a little bit less each year because those teams may be up against the Cap…but the team will give the player term (years). “I just want to get paid a ridiculous amount of money now!” Then the New York Islanders await…

It’s a give and take.

It’s a free market system with limitations (read: rules) that restrict anarchy.

It works.

The owners want to change that.

They want a 5 year maximum contract term within a salary cap structure. That means no matter how good or great the player, he won’t get paid for longer than 5 years and won’t get the huge pay-day because of the salary cap. From 2004 through the present, the owners created these long-term 10+ year contracts to get around the salary cap issue. Now, they want to close the loophole they created with their competitive spirit and fat wallets to keep themselves from doing it to themselves again.

The owners want to keep the salary cap system that acts as a ceiling on what individual players want to get paid and artificially limit the amount of years the player can get paid.

It’s perfect for the owners. It gives them complete cost control while having every player by their collective and individual nuts. It takes all the options away.

“Oh, you don’t like the 5 year contract I offered? Okay, have your agent pick up the phone so he can get another 5 year contract offer just like it.”

“$4 million is too low? No problem. Find a Cup contending team that can pay you more within the salary cap.”

Sounds great, right? I agree. If I am an owner, I am salivating over this. If I am a player, then my counter offer is a middle finger.

Categories: Non-L.A. Kings News Offerings

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21 replies

  1. I am 100% behind the owners. Fehr makes Bettman look like jesus.

    • If that is true you just proved what an idiot you are. Was the last lockout and cancelled season Fehrs fault also? What about the lockout before that? Oh no wait Fehr wasnt the head of the NHLPA but good ole Gary was the NHL commissioner. Bettman is clearly the problem. The players hate him. The fans hate him. And no one can actually work with the prick. He can’t negotiate anything and is a failed lawyer.

    • I’m with you 100% Bettman has done an acceptable job, he been proactive and has beenbehind the growth of the sport. Fehr has forced the players to take less money at this point and has pushed this thing to a point that will have damaged this league for years to come.The owners take the risk and have to make money. The players will get their millions no matter what. The cba has to be in the owners favor at this point because this league is in big trouble.

      • What kind of trouble is the league that increased revenue by 2 billion since the last CBA in that requires more money and unilateral concessions from players? We should all have that kind of record setting and unprecedented profitability type of trouble

  2. I am a financial conservative, politically speaking. I do not whatsoever believe in entitlements, affirmative action, or anything not based in merit and merit alone.
    I do not believe in artificial barriers prohibiting anyone from earning their worth. However, playing a kid’s sport for millions of dollars, on the face of it, seems ridiculous and artificial. That being said, millions of dollsrs for playing a kid’s game is what the market bares. I am not willing to compromise or violate a basic tenant of free market supply and demand economics upon which this great country was founded, just so we don’t lose a year of Anze Kopitar in his prime. On the other hand, the abuse of the system agreed upon lay with the owners circumventing at every turn the very system for which they fought so hard to instill. The players are no better, not satisfied with salary comensurate to that of a captain of industry who employs thousands, for playing a child’s game.

  3. I dont know, it’s so hard to tell what really went on as we only hear what each side wants us to hear but it looks like (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) we can’t put this on Betman. Sounds like all was good until Fehr came back into the picture.
    I understand the arguments being made by both sides and it all sounds like crap. The owners are Billionaires and the players are Millionaires who PLAY A GAME for a living.
    In the grand scheme of things, this lockout is rediculous! 5 years, really should be enough of a contract at $7M a year!
    The CBA? 8 years or 10?
    The people selling beer and pretzels are making $10/hour if they’re lucky!
    The fans that pay for all this bullshit don’t make all that much more.
    I’m really disgusted by the whole thing.
    I just wanna watch some hockey!
    I just wanna wear my new Quick Stanley Cup Jersey to a game.
    I just wanna buy some $12 Heinekens.
    I just wanna walk into Staples bathroom and pee on a picture of Henrik Sedin.
    I just wanna see the 2012 Stanley Cup Banner Raised at Staples Center.
    I just want HOCKEY BACK.

  4. During this whole negotiation I haven’t seen what it is that the owners are giving up. I see where the players have been asked for contract rollbacks, lowered salary caps, higher profit sharing demands, and the other cap/contract factors above. But where is it that the teams have given up anything?

    The more I read about these negotiations the more it becomes clear to me that Bettman and the owners are not sure what they’re dealing with when it comes to fear and that they’ve seriously underestimated the loyalty/unity of the players towards each other and they union.

    Its clear now that Wednesday night was a very positive negotiation and that all sides felt they were moving in the right direction. What changed? The players moving to bring Fehr in to finalize the proposals. When the players asked to have their union leader come in to close the deal. The owners took all offers off the table. Why do this? They either fear him OR they want the players to think nothing can be done WITH Fehr being a part of the process.

    This according to Winnipeg defenseman Ron Hainsey:

    “Once we made clear that … we had to get our union leadership, that we’ve hired for this, in the room, there was just a very big change. It was alarming, and I was told that if we were going to do that, it was possibly a dealbreaker. That was made clear last night. It was confusing, because we kind of agreed that we were moving toward each other, and we weren’t that far apart. So, it’s confusing for the players to think that we were supposed to finish this ourselves.”

    So, Fehr is a deal breaker? No wonder Bettman looked like he was going to cry.

  5. After it is all said and done the LA Harbor workers got a way better deal than the players will get.
    Once the players figure that out they will return to work and goldbrick and not sharpen their skates. Moreover the remaining goons in the game will do their ceremonial 3 swings, dance and misses, fall to the ice and meander to the sin box.
    I think we are headed for cumbaya hockey and a love fest on ice.
    I am very skeptical that we are destined for water downed hockey just sucking more coins from our pockets and we are stiffed.

  6. Spot on as usual

  7. Bobby thanks for a recap on Saleries/Contracts/ect.. after looking up a couple of words in the dictionary.. and Surley.. Schism.. that is a perfect description.. I am trying not to get
    numbed to this ongoing lockout..I am Union.. went through one.. did my filing for unemployment( even though had a second job so of course it was just for the solidarity..
    went and did the picketing.. with my daughter 2 at the time..
    I will just sum it up and say .. THIS SUCKS! King Fans ..which include media and players as well .. deserve Better… :(
    GO KINGS GO!!!

  8. Being a Financial Econ major a lot of what you said rang true. However, (and im not saying this is necissaily whats happening) Bettman is arguing that smaller market teams are operating at a loss right now. While protecting yourself from yourself seems weird, we do it all the time ( the SEC is a good example). However, this isnt a normal market. Allowing a team to go bankrupt is just bad for everyone, so perfect competition cannot exist, in fact, everything needs to be done in order to protect the idea that no team can fail. The problem is, small market teams have trouble drawing fans, this gets even worse when they don’t win. Their options are: 1 spend more money and be competitive OR 2 dont spend money and lose fans. It’s a losing game, by increasing the amount of time that a team holds the rights to the player, the better chances of all teams being profitable and successful.
    I think the years cap is rediculous however. Something like that could actually prove useful for some small market teams.

  9. Breaking news: Eklund predicts there will be NHL hockey at some point in the future

  10. Owners want to:
    (1) Make a deal that is retroactive, invalidating contracts they created themselves
    (2) Defy the free market value for players established by themselves
    (3) Defy the free market value for franchises, by floating unviable locations

    The only way to do this is to destroy the Union. If you look at everything from the starting point of wanting to bust the Union, it all makes sense, especially the most recent attempt to wedge Fehr from the players be becoming aghast when Fehr returns to an active role.

    Sure, billionaires would rather negotiate directly with a small, scattered group of players. That’s their game. Just as players would love to win the Cup for the next 8 to 10 years skating against a team comprised of the owners.

    Owners drive this hot-rod, and suddenly they wish us to believe the accident that never happened was caused by the vehicle, and not the driver.


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