Guessing how long the players will endure this lockout...

Discussion in 'Fugu's Business of Hockey Forum' started by sakicisstupid, Dec 30, 2004.

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  1. sakicisstupid

    sakicisstupid Registered User

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    I've got a neat little, but faulty, theory which may give some insight into how long the NHLPA may stick out this lockout. Currently, the median salary is around 800K, which the NHL intends to halve (you'll know what I mean if you've been reading Spector's soap box). I believe that if the NHLPA would ever accept a salary cap, it would substantially limit its rollback (which the NHL would happily accept if it were to get its hard cap).

    But, if the NHL were to start today under the system the NHLPA proposed this month and would agree to (and the least plausible scenario the NHL would play under), the median salary would be around 400K. That would mean the average NHLer will have lost 400K this year if the lockout only lasts this season. But if the NHLPA accepted the cap without a rollback in the first year, the players could potentially make up for their losses this season in the first half of the following season of the new CBA (and would make as much money in this season with a cap as two seasons of the NHLPA's proposed system)...a predicament not hard to stomach in the short-term if I was a player.

    So the theory makes me believe that Goodenow is more than willing to risk waiting one year to see if the owners budge. Worse case scenario, all the potential earnings they lost in two years would be "corrected" in one season. It's unfortunate, however, for me that my theory is contingent on the NHL accepting the hard cap without a substantial rollback. But, if I were a betting man, I would say the NHL would be delighted to have its salary cap w/o an immediate rollback.

    Further, I may be overestimating the effect of the losses the players could incur in without playing hockey for a year. Some players have already said they're willing to be locked out for 18-24 months. So who knows... :dunno:

    This theory also fails to recognize the number of players that may still have contracts, 1 year from now, leftover from the previous system where the median salary is 800K. I believe roughly half the membership would still be under such contracts.

    It's also interesting to note that the NHLPA's 24% rollback will mean little in 2 seasons from now where only a quarter of the membership will still have contracts. Thus, the rollback would not provide the players with not much leverage in 2 years. What would the NHLPA do then to try an entice the owners to not seek a salary cap when it could make the value of the rich owner's franchises skyrocket!? The NHLPA would be totally at the mercy of the NHL. So, it would make sense to me that if the PA wanted to avoid a hard cap (and try and entice the owners to at least accept a soft cap) and required using their rollback as leverage, it would have to do it before the loss of a second season.

    In the end, I think the NHLPA can only afford to not play hockey for one year. But it should really start worrying afterwards when the PA begins to lose significant leverage and money. If this lockout lasts two years, the PA is cooked!

    Am I out to lunch here or what?
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2004
  2. struckmatch

    struckmatch Registered User

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    They'll cave to save the season.
     
  3. Puck

    Puck Ninja

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    I don't know what to think jericholic19.

    On the surface, it does seem like the NHL is winning at this point. THe owners have stayed quiet and have seemingly held together; the resolve has been amazing. They have fan support, fans hate the high ticket prices (can't say I blame them) and perceive the players to be the biggest reason for these (we've heard arguments against this too). The players came out with their big proposal and the 24% rollback and that was interpreted differently in various quarters but the perception out there was that they blinked first. So the perception is the owners are winning now...

    The other perception is that the players better hurry to negotiate now, otherwise the league will declare impasse, go to the NLRB and start with replacement players next season if the players don't cave in. I might be wrong but I don't think the NLRB can ok a CBA with a cap; that might go against the Sherman Act. I think the NHL might actually need the PAs' or players' agreement to get a cap; otherwise, why wouldn't they just do this on their own. I'm not an expert in these matters, someone will have to enlighten me.

    Anyway, I don't think the players will ever agree to scuttling 'arbitration' which was added to the list of NHL demands in December. Even if some might be willing to play with a cap (some hybrid), no way will they want to be left at the mercies of GMs without salary arbitration. I'm not sure, but when the hockey historians write up this work stoppage, they might conclude that Bettman's hard line reply to the the NHLPA in December 2004 might have been a tactical mistake that unified the players around Goodenow.

    The NLRB next season may ok a CBA without a salary cap and when the NHL opens its doors, the new CBA might not be so offensive to the PA and you might get the NHL players crossing the line with Goodenow's blessing. They might actually prefer the NLRB version to what the NHL had in store for them. Who knows.

    But then again, I might be wrong.
     
  4. sakicisstupid

    sakicisstupid Registered User

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    I personally believe declaring an impasse will do little to help Bettman. There are many legal hurdles to overcome and if those are managed somehow, who will actually go to see minor league players? What will happen to the other leagues as well? I can't imagine they'll be pleased if there is a significant drop in talent next season.

    I also think Bettman's hard line approach was a huge mistake. He's been combative from the start. Why would the union ever want to form an economic partnership with a bunch of guys who they don't trust??? Could anyone here do that? As you said, Gary has galvanized these players against him and the owners.

    As well, I believe the NHLPA will somehow find a way to win this battle as they have done in the past. Superficially they could look like losers, but once again they end up getting the best of the owners.
     
  5. Steve L*

    Steve L* Registered User

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    Thats why I believe the NHL are right to take the hard line approach. If they came to an agreement that everyone thought was fair then the NHLPA would find a way to screw over the owners through every loophole possible.

    This is why the NHL is only going to accept a hard cap where there can be no exploitation by the NHLPA. The ironic thing is if they didnt systematically have a system of forcing salaries up (like making players sign for more than they wanted and getting certain players to hold out) they might have had a much more balanced system for the next CBA.

    The NHLPA will now suffer for their short term greed.
     
  6. ti-vite

    ti-vite Registered User

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  7. First thing you have to do is stop reading Spector's garbage. The guy is the Dear Abby of hockey sites. He regurgitates anything anyone will send him. Most of his stuff is based on fantasy and is way out on the fringe. Why Fox gives this guy a voice is beyond me.

    Having said that I will say that I agree with you that the NHLPA can last for a year. After that I think they will fold like a cheap tent in a windstorm. Goodenow is NOT looking out for the best interests of the union and is only looking out for the best interests of the top 10% of the wage earners in his little club (it is unfair to associate it with a union because of its actions). Real unions look after the interests of the majority and are willing to make accomodations to support them. So far the NHL Players "Guild" has been willing to sacrifice the majority for the "stars" of the game. The fact that they risk jobs (what Goodenow says privately or publicly doesn't matter as its the action that matters) and are willing to throw the majority of the guild under the bus shows the true colors of the NHLPA.

    The way I see this? I think the players need to get back on the ice ASAP. As you pointed out there are a lot of players without contracts right now. That number increases greatly at the end of this season meaning the majority of the players guild will be without contracts (IIRC only 120ish players will be under contract at the end of this season, the majority of them being younger players). At that point the players have zero leverage. They will be unable to make any sort of PR stunt, like their salary roll back offer, work in any shape or form. I'm not sure if they will have any leg to stand on come next fall. The multi-million dollar a year players talk a good fight, but they are not the majority of the league. Most players don't have the big reserves to fall back on and are going to feel the pinch. Those guys will begin to sweat. I think these guys will blink first.

    One thing that the rocket scientists like Brooks, Strachan and Spector have not considered is the power of the agents in this battle. The NHL Players Guild has built up a reserve and can survive, even if this drags out and the players take a hit in their earning. What is not considered is the agents. They get all of their revenues from their clients working. When their clients aren't working they don't get paid. The agents still have bills to pay and still have a cash flow issue to worry about. They are presently on side with the Players Guild, but that could change if Goodenow continues to threaten these guys with decertification. The agents could quickly turn this thing on its ear. Players listen to their agents (right Sidney Crosby?) and do what they are told for the most part. If the agents say enough is enough and tell their players to cross a line I believe the players will follow their agents before they follow the guild. The agents are going to be the ones who break this stalemate IMO, and they will likely blink soon. Operating expenses have not ceased for these guys and they need their money to keep themselves going. They need their players back on the ice making a living so they can make their living. I say the agents tire of the Players Guild's tactics soon and start to change sway to the owners side making replacement players more of a reality and putting even more pressure on the guild to captulate to the league's needs/demands.
     
  8. djhn579

    djhn579 Registered User

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    Both sides in this lockout have been combative. The only reason that the owners seem more so than the NHLPA is that they need the NHLPA to give much more than the NHLPA wants to give. How would you go about getting someone to give you something when they don't really want to?

    I agree that the NHL may have seemed to ask for too much, but if you have a salary cap and a player wins a $2M raise, and that puts you over the cap, you would have to let that player go or another player go and get nothing in return. Then, even though the player had to be let go, he still has a guaranteed contract, so he will get his money even if he is not on the roster. Personally, I think players have all the leverage they need by holding out. No one is forcing them to agree to a salary that they don't like, no one is holding a gun to their head, and they can play in any other league in the world if they don't like their teams offer.

    Who would go to see minor league players? Everything depends on price and entertainment value. Here in Buffalo, we just had close to a sellout when our AHL affiliate played in Buffalo. Sure it's the holidays and the Rochester Americans are doing very well right now, but even when they were doing worse earlier in the season they had over 12,000 (~2/3 capacity) for a game in Buffalo. If the NHL uses replacement players, attendance would probably be lower, but if the NHL averaged 50% capacity in the first quarter of the season, I think they would be happy, and things would improve from there.

    As for a decrease in talent because they used replacemant players, that remains to be seen. I watched the USA vs Belarus game last night. I would have to say that the entertainment level was high (even though USA lost! :madfire: ), but I also saw some very good plays and hits. I think most of us here would pay at least half of what we would be willing to pay for NHL ticket to see that level of play. And those were only players that were under 20 years old! I think you would be able to find enough talent to put together 30 teams and have around that level of play, but that could just be wishful thinking on my part...
     
  9. Bring Back Bucky

    Bring Back Bucky Registered User

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    Thanks to my Christmas Charity Pampered Fantastic Pooch Fund, Mike Modano will not be caving in any time soon. I donated 300 bags of Anastasia-Priscilla's favorite Science Diet, as well as four gorgeous hair bows,and a fabulous cashmere tartan doggie sweater so there will be no cracks in that armour in the foreseeable future.
     
  10. thinkwild

    thinkwild Veni Vidi Toga

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    The players fund is said to be set up for 2 years of payments. If the owners make it clear that their intent is to test the unions resolve and shut down the league to break the union in a fight, and the union ratifies that is prepared for this fight, they will easily last 2 years too. It seems destined to go here. THis is the course the owners have chosen. What they want, not need, will take 2 years of no hockey and then cross their fingers. What they need can be negotiated in the next few weeks. IF they choose the fight, I suspect they will get it. I dont think the owners can maintain solidarity long enough. They will crack.
     
  11. SENSible1*

    SENSible1* Guest


    Keep dreaming.

    If you think the players will last two years at $5,000 a month and give up one quarter to one half of their career earnings over the principal of no linkage, then you are sorely mistaken.

    The PA will crack well before the owners.
     
  12. Twine Seeking Missle

    Twine Seeking Missle Go monkey go!!!

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    P.A. will def be the ones to crack. Bettman has them beat, now its up to the players as to how and especially WHEN they will concede defeat.
     
  13. struckmatch

    struckmatch Registered User

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    Not a chance. The PA will fold long before the owners will. Especially since under the last proposal by the NHL, the players making under $800,000 were not effected by the rollback, and those players make up half the union. That half will be very upset if they miss one year of hockey, let alone 2.
     
  14. CarlRacki

    CarlRacki Registered User

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    If guys making, on average, $1.8 million a year will substitute that for $60,000 a year for two full years based on their principle, dumber than many of us think.
    Let's just pretend they cave 100 percent today and must live on a measly $1.3 million a year. That's $2.6 million for two years as opposed to $120,000 for two years. It would seem like a no brainer, but then again no brainer seems to the M.O. of the PA.
     
  15. PecaFan

    PecaFan Registered User

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    Yup. I really think they're going to do it. But it's not being "dumb" or stupidity that's going to make them do it.

    It's loyalty. The players have this totally whacked sense of loyalty (IMHO), such that 91% of them who would be better off accepting the owner's agreement, will fall on the sword to protect the 9%. It's ingrained in hockey players, it's what makes a hockey team ultimately work.

    It's like the dog who refuses to move from the feet of his dead master, until he dies too.
     
  16. sakicisstupid

    sakicisstupid Registered User

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    the players aren't being loyal or stupid. the owners want to halve their median salary from 800K to 400K permanently. if you were a player, given that the average career lasts like 3 years, wouldn't you fight for a free market as well? further, how can you trust a league who is ambigous about its revenues (ie. won't open the portfolios of all of their franchises). there's nothing inherently stupid or loyal about these players. they're like you and me, folks. by the way, why don't the NHL teams publicly reveal all of their finances. what do they have to hide???
     
  17. PecaFan

    PecaFan Registered User

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    WRONG. The NHL's offer kept median salaries at exactly the same level.

    "11. Median Player Salary. We propose structuring the system so that the "median" NHL Player salary (as defined) will not be reduced as part of the new CBA (barring a significant reduction in revenues as a result of damage from the work stoppage). During the 2003-04 season, the median salary for Players who played at least one NHL game was $800,000."
     
  18. sakicisstupid

    sakicisstupid Registered User

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    it would be more substantial if the NHL actually proposed and made a hard push for a legitimate and workable system that allows the median salary to remain the same. once they show this type of commitment, then ill truly believe the majority of NHLers should tell the NHLPA they want to go back to work under the NHL's terms. until then, im still skeptical as it seems the NHL is trying, yet again, to break up the union.

    but it is no doubt possible to create such a system. indeed, the 3rd and 4th line players could demand that Goodenow accepts such a proposal. but that would mean that only the star NHL players stand to lose in this battle. that's quite a rift which could be created...one that could easily break the union and give the NHL all the leverage it wants to impose any system it wishes (if you were still a mediocre player without a union, would you still trust that the median salary would remain the same in the long-term? would salaries still be guaranteed? would arbitration still be possible?)

    so you see, even if it seems the NHL doesn't intend to reduce the median salary, i think its likely the mediocre players could get screwed in a number of other ways if they don't remain loyal to all of its union members. while i could easily be wrong for my reasoning of the median salary (and you were right in stating the players could be continuing this lockout because of loyalty), remaining loyal to the top 9% NHLers is still a legitimate enough reason to keep this lockout going. without its most powerful players, there isn't a strong union, if at all. then the mediocre players can be fully taken advantage of.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2005
  19. eye

    eye Registered User

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    3 years? Common. Check the Hockey Database and you will see that most players last longer than 10-12 years. The average is lowered by players that are on the bubble each year between AHL Europe and the NHL but make no mistake most players last alot longer than most realize.

    Players will cave because most fans want it that way. Were not blaming the players as much as we are blaming the owners, agents and Goodenow for the state of the game but in order to correct what has gone wrong in the past 10 years the players have to lose this battle but will still have won the war with 1.3 million avg.

    If owners cave now you can expect a mass exodus of fans from the game of hockey.

    Every day that goes by is costing the players millions.
     
  20. sakicisstupid

    sakicisstupid Registered User

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    I was just throwing a number out there but I'm pretty sure the average career doesn't last 10 years. i would think 5 years max considering the number of marginally talented players that shift from league to league.

    If there's anything that should have caused a mass exodus of fans, it would have been the escalating ticket prices. Bringing hockey back will not cause an exodus of any sort. But, a lockout in itself can damage the fan base.
     
  21. Yup only the NHL owners will be able to exploit the hard cap. Just ask the NFL players how the owners have been hiding more and more revenues over the last few yrs. Either way you look at it whichever side wins, they'll be able to do the exploitation. Of course, I thought the exploitation of labor was technically illegal.
     
  22. CarlRacki

    CarlRacki Registered User

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    Pretending your numbers are correct (which they aren't) a two-year lockout is still a loser for the players.
    3 years at $400K = $1.2 million
    1 year at $800K = $800K

    The NHL has welcomed the PA to look at the Leavitt report. The PA has refused.
    Furthermore, why should NHL teams - at least those part of privately held corporations - be compelled to open their books and damage their own business prospects to satisfy your curiosity? Those that are part of publicly held corporations - i.e. Comcast, Disney - already open their books through company SEC filings.
     
  23. I hope everyone realizes what the term "median" actually means. It does not mean average!!
    Using calculations based on the median doesn't account for the players making more and less than that median. And re-read what PecaFan quoted but particularly this part "(barring a significant reduction in revenues as a result of damage from the work stoppage)", which everyone could pretty much agree that there will be significant reduction in revenues due to the work stoppage once the season is officially cancelled. There is no way the NHL can guarantee with "certainty" (that word that Bettman loves to throw around) that the "median salary" will remain at $800k if they eventually get their salary cap.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median
     
  24. arnie

    arnie Registered User

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    You don't get it. The point of replacement players is not make. It's to put more pressue on NHL players and hope that some will be willing to play, eventually leading to an erosion of the NHLPA position.

    Personally, I would go to games, as long as they don't charge NHL prices.

    This is a completely irrelevant argument. It's not a matter of trust. There is no reason in the world that the two sides couldn't negotiate booking keeping practices. They do it in other leagues.

    You say that Bettman has galvinized the players againsy him. How exactly do you know that? Because Goodenow and Trevor Linden say so? How m,any of the 750 union members have anid anything at all?

    You can bet that despite NHLPA rhetoric, the lower salaried players are dying to get back in there, cap or no.

    Not a chance. If the NHL has held out this long, they are surely going all the way.
     
  25. PecaFan

    PecaFan Registered User

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    But that's the player's own fault. If they had agreed to the cap months ago, no paycheques would have been lost, there'd be no drop in revenues due to fallout from the lockout, 91% would be paid the same or better as the NHLPA offer, and the median salary would have remained the same at 800K.

    I am absolutely positive that what the players end up with might be better for the top 9%, but there's no way in hell it's going to be better for the bottom 91%. They're not going to make up the 3/4's of a billion dollars in lost wages, etc.
     
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