The only solution that has a chance

There are points to be made on both sides of who is to blame for this mess. Unfortunately, I think both sides, and most observers, are missing the real point to all of this.

We are so caught up in who is right and who is wrong, and personal agendas, and greed(!) that we all miss the point.

The game needs to be fixed to position itself to grow.

The fundamental first step to fixing this has to be a true partnership between the NHLPA and the owners AND between the owners themselves.

Frankly, the owners want to have a cap, that they determine, without revenue sharing and without full disclosure. EVERYBODY knows their losses are nowhere near what is stated… everyone knows about luxury box revenue hidden under different companies….

The players on the other hand have to finally come to the realization that their short-term greed only hurts the game. They have to get out of this “squeeze for every cent we can get” mentality.

There is only one solution that has a chance for the fans, the players, AND the owners.

Two things must be done.

1) Fix the game. It is boring, period. Fix the rules… Personally, I don’t think it takes too much to do this.

2) Have competitive balance.

In order to succeed in smaller markets there needs to be an exciting product AND there needs to be a *chance* each year for every team to win and be competitive during the season. A surprise cinderella run in the playoffs doesn’t cut it.

That is the ONLY way the NHL will ever get a fan base that justifies a national TV contract and we all know that is the true path to making money.

There is also only one way to do this.

Before any of this happens…

The owners and players have to start at square one. Over the summer, the players have to be able to audit the books of the owners.. COMPLETELY. There has to be full disclosure of ALL revenue streams and ALL expenses.

Both sides MUST emerge from the process with complete agreement on what all the expenses and what all the revenues are. If they do not agree, in any way, they must go back to the table, until they do. There is no alternative. Total agreement is a must because…

The next steps is the two sides negotiating a percentage of such revenues, and establishing a minimum and maximum salary level based on those numbers… AND a revenue sharing scheme. I don’t care if the NHL doesn’t like it. It is necessary to make sure every team has the funds to meet a minimum competitive amount of salary.

This removes the question of trust. This brings some financial stability, this brings competitive balance, financially.

This also means the players have a stake in, and visibility of, the overall health of the league.

This would be a true partnership between players and owners. Future negotiations would be about a cap percentage… not about 20 different issues and lies and name calling.

Hopefully, ultimately, a stable, entertaining product with competitive balance and wide geographic exposure will one day allow the fan base to grow and get that big TV contract… and everyone is happier.

This cannot get done this year.

It is time, now, to scrap all previous discussions, forget about what the owners will or won’t do historically. It is time for the owner’s to put up or shut up on being true partners with the players BEFORE a cap gets in place and it is time for the players to understand that, by necessity, some sort of cap is necessary for stability and a competitive foundation to hopefully foster some growth.

I also think both sides should come out of the meetings this week and simply say…

The season is over but *this* is our plan on how to fix the system over the summer and we guarantee normal operations will resume in October 2005.


36 Responses to The only solution that has a chance

  1. big_booty says:

    “Over the summer, the players have to be able to audit the books of the owners.. COMPLETELY. There has to be full disclosure of ALL revenue streams and ALL expenses.”

    This will NEVER EVER happen.

    There is not one major corporation in the world that shares its numbers with its employees. It is a bad business practice. To think that it would begin with a major sports league and its players’ association is pure folly.

    There has to be a separation between employer and employee. To give the employee access to sensitive information of this nature is a recipe for disaster.

    They have a term for when employees get a hold of this kind of stuff:

    “Industrial Espionage”

  2. Aetherial says:

    Let’s say, I accept the statement that this will never happen…

    In lieu of so strict a description, I would say that complete agreement and visibility of revenues is necessary. The players ONLY reasonable arguement against a cap (outside of pure greed) is that they do not trust the owners.

    My point is that the players must come to trust the owners and to make this happen the owners must convince the players of the correct revenue numbers.

    Or more simply… there needs to be trust. I think that trust is necessary before this process ever achieves a positive end.

    Do you agree that a real partnership is needed and that this process is not going to benefit the game at all, regardless of the outcome.

    I am afraid that both sides panic to a settlement… that doesn’t work for one or both, and 5 years from now we have this same mess all over again.

    I think we need a whole new paradigm.

  3. Aetherial says:

    I do not believe the owner’s position that the players are like auto workers.

    I also do not fully support the players *meaning* behind their claim that they aret he product.

    I think the truth is somewhere in between. Therefore, I am not sure the rules for normal corporations *should* apply.

  4. cgolding says:

    the irony that has emerged from the lockout is how much you and i agree at the moment. considering how we go at each other when actual play is going on, and the fact that we go against our own teams specific interests in our views of what hockey needs to do, i just find it humorous.

    it’s a game of chicken… eventually the mini the players are driving is going to go splat, or veer. i think they would prefer veering, but that is just a pragmatic view from the outside.

  5. cgolding says:

    that was poor phrasing by daly if it was indeed true… note my — i want to puke — diatribe about the marxist crap people are spouting. auto workers do a somewhat easy to do job and are easily replaceable (note: i’m not cracking on auto-workers it is simply a different dynamic when we are talking about pro-athletes relations with their boss’).

    the problem with the players view is that they believe they themselves are the “product.” when in reality they are simply the pieces that make up the “product.” when assembled, they create the product which is NHL quality hockey. the product exists without them, just at a lesser quality… thus they in reality are a sort of hybrid worker/assembly piece. sure you can make a car with crappy parts, and thus have a product, it just isn’t as good a car.

    this philosophical view of their own worth is a major problem for this whole process. they need to get off their high-horse and realize that they aren’t as important to the “product” as they seemingly think. they are, in fact, replaceable.

  6. kyle88 says:

    If the owners have nothing to gain by showing all their financial records then there is no way to do it. Plus I am sure they are hiding things from more than the players.

    The owners also did offer the books to the PA did they not? Goodenow refused to do his own auditing of the books.

    I think the best way to look at it is, the seats are empty, teams file for bankruptcy, the NHL needs to be fixed. The only way to fix the product is to have both sides invested in the product. As revenues grow, then the cap grows, and the players have more money, this way the players have to care about the product on the ice, currently they don’t have to(doesn’t mean they don’t). Overall they also need to have revenue sharing, so the rich teams can feed the poor teams and improve the HL as a whole instead of individuals.

  7. habsoverserver says:

    If the owners show their hands they lose the ability to ever negotiate with the players.

  8. simplyhabby says:

    That sums it up in a nutshell.

  9. 19Yzerman says:

    I don’t think either side knows who’s hands are at the wheel during this chickin match. They keep removing the pilots and I think just before impact they are going to throw those non driven, non making a CBA knuckleheads back behind the wheels.

    How brutal!!

    Oh well they all deserve a good crash. My HDS Hockey Deprevation Syndrone pills are yet to take effect. I think they may have been jelly beans.

  10. Aetherial says:

    No they don’t.

    What it means is that future negotiations will be of an entirely different nature.

    There will not be the unknowns and mistrust. They will simply be deciding on what is reasonable.

    I think if the NHL included the revenue that the NFL agreement includes, they could argue up or down from that figure.. depending on the state of a TV deal, and come up with a number.

    You don’t see it because you are still thinking in an “us against them” kind of bargaining scenario I think.

  11. Aetherial says:

    I look at it like this:

    The players are the product insofar as they make up a team… really the sweater is the product.

    The players can help or hinder the value of that product because they are a part of it… I just don’t think they are *all* of it.

    A lot of the product is the *team* and its history and its accrued goodwill.

    In other words, I think the league would, survive with replacements ultimately because new *stars* would be born to cheer for.

  12. Aetherial says:

    Arthur Leviit looked at the books.

    The problem is the books do not reflect reality. If a team chooses to have another corporation own its private boxes it is a legitimate accounting practice.. and yet, in *reality* that is unclaimed revenue.

    I agree that the players really don’t want to look.. because I think they still see the *small* picture and they do not see where a true partnership will help anyone.

    Shortsightedness on BOTH sides will kill hockey in the US, except for maybe 10 teams.

  13. 19Yzerman says:

    I have at least 10 personal friends and two members of my imediate family who are UAW. Not only are those job somewhat easy to do job and are easily replaceable. The pay is over and above that of most non skilled labor.

    The automakers are starting to outsource within. Yea right under those UAW noses they are putting workers right in there who are not under the same contract standards.

    Being an NHLer is a skilled trade that does command a certain market value which when reflected upon the average USA/CANADIAN annual income becomes a lifetime of fortune.

    the “PRODUCTs” is seen by many in different ways which makes that debatable.

    NHL player skill is what it is and for the most part they can be replaced by some dandies in NCAA and AHL. However the players as a whole or an even better example is just the ALLSTARS and now you have your hands full trying to replace them.

  14. 19Yzerman says:

    Oh it becomes hard to establish what is fair for who when you are entertaining thoughts of some one who may have an ACE up their sleve.

    All for one and one for all will not work in a two party situation. The NHL and NHLPA needs to get married.

  15. rojoke says:

    There is not one major corporation in the world that shares its numbers with its employees.

    That’s not entirely accurate. Any publicly-traded corporation is required by law to produce audited financial statements on an annual basis to all existing shareholders, and they are usually available in some form for any potential investors. As such, any employee of any publicly-traded corporation can get access to their employer’s financial statements.

  16. Aetherial says:

    Yeah, they pretty much need to be on the same side as far as the good of the league goes.

    right now, the NHL owners don’t trust each other or work with each other for the good of the league.

    The NHLPA certainly appears to have no interest whatsoever in anything except double digit salary increases. They certainly have no long term view of the health of the league.

    In fact, they don’t care which mystifies me considering how many NHLPA jobs will be lost when teams start folding.

    If we don’t get cost certainty at the end of the day… som teams will fold.

  17. 19Yzerman says:

    Teams not folding is the real reason we are where we are right now.

    Owners of a new franchise agree to pay the other owners like 50 million only to find they cannot make enough money for them selves. Let alone make its franchise payment to the other teams who allow this to go on year after year. They keep waiting for their ship to come in like those castaways on Gilligan’s Island.

    Time for the owners to treat this situation like Chicago in the 1920’s.

    Those who are in this organization and cannot pay get peppered with lead. Live and let die!

  18. habsoverserver says:

    Generally the length of a stalemate in labor negotiations is indirectly proportional to (1) the imortance of the business (2) the growth of the business. An important high growth business where the public suffers and where big profits are lost is almost always settled immediately. Inimportant businesses with declining growth can afford to stay on strike for prolonged periods of time – they only hurt themselves and no one cares.

    From this we can conclude that if the season does not happen it is because (1) the public does not care (2) management did not suffer enough of a financial loss to neccessitate negotiating.

    There is always a third possibility which is that both sides or at least one side is being idiotic. I doubt that is the case here. But you have to wonder.

    I think there is a combination of two things here (1) lots of ego (2) not a very good business model. The ego causes each side to believe that the other side ruined the business model.

    How does this get solved? Unfortunately, it is going to take pain to solve this. The owners and players need to feel enough pain to put their egos aside and accept that the business model is what it is and it does not get fixed by one factor (cost certainty) and it does not get ruined by one factor (bad markets).

    The first step in solving this mess is for both sides to agree on the health of the patient. A year ago, independent studies shuld have been commissioned jointly by the players and owners to determine what is wrong with hockey in terms of fan base and profitablity. This would have served as the basis for solving the philosophical issues that separate the players and owners. At this point, both sides are flying blind and don’t know how to solve the problem.

    I think the NHL should work under an interim agreement for this season – after all they already got a 50% payroll reduction through attrition. The NHL should use the rest of the season and the offseason to research the issues and constructively solve their problems.

    The fans have strong opinions about the issues in the NHL. I don’t think the players and the owners know what we are thinking.

  19. guinsfan4life says:

    I keep hearing this issue of trust thrown around. My question is, then, when is an issue born of trust used as an excuse for people who just aren’t ready to accept reality.

    Look, the players know the financial state of the game. They read the papers and see the contracts other players are getting, they see teams that are going bankrupt, they know the small market teams vs the large market teams (i.e. the teams that can afford to over pay and not ) which is why they all sign with the Detroits, Phillies, and Coloradoes of the world. It is proposterous for me to believe they aren’t aware of the financial state of the league.

    So the owners open their books and turns out they actually are $200 million in the hole instead of $250. Where does that leave us anyway??? It leaves us back at the drawing board all over again.

  20. 19Yzerman says:

    There are 2 set of books to look at in the NHL for each teams finance. Which is the basis for the mistrust. The URO which is the one the Owners are opening and showing around. Then you have the actual teams books of finance which are the ones each owner uses to evaluate where they are in terms of finance. These are the ones the players want to see not the URO that they are willing to show the world. If the owners have nothing to hide why not open the REAL books????

  21. Aetherial says:

    I agree that the real numbers are not disclosed.

    I also think that it makes no difference to the players.

    The player’s mindset is so far removed from reality that they really will not understand or believe it until teams fold, jobs are lost and salaries go down.

    No matter what happens in this process… salaries are going down.

    The players’ short term view, which started 5 years ago, has backed them into a corner from which there is no escape.

    I am going to LOVE seeing this cry babies lose millions from their stupidity.

  22. hockeyhead says:

    the natural athlete will go with the flow…..do not resist. resistance causes tension, tension causes dis-ease.

    these athletes need to realize that even the steady and stubborn rock will submit to the erosion of the ever flowing river.

    i say to them, go with the flow, don’t try to stop the river. listen to the owners.

    UUUUHHMMMMMM (let us all meditate)

  23. habsoverserver says:

    HH did you just roll the NHLPA proposal and smoke it?

  24. 19Yzerman says:

    Jack Nickleson —-Adam Sandler

    Anger Management

    HOOOOOOOSSSEEFFFAAABBBAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!

    something like that. hoosfaba??

    Listen to the owners LUKE!!

    wait you almost had me there with your Jeddi mind trick.

    The players must continue to battle the dark side and may the FORCE be with them.

  25. nocuphere says:

    If he did it’s two puff and pass hh!!

  26. hockeyhead says:

    UUUUUHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMM……..release the tension……go with the river. go with the cap……

    the proposal was not canadian kind…i will say that.

  27. Teppy1954 says:

    At the end of the day the players have to conclude that they are the commodity and not the owner. It is absolutely ridiculous for the players to require an audit of their employer’s books.

    The owners are in the stronger position and they must be able to wrest control of their asset from the hands of Bob Goodenow. If the players do not capitulate, and soon, the same situation that developed between the NFL and it’s players will soon come to pass, “replacement players” will be the order of the day. Then watch as one by one, players begin to cross the picket line.

    This league has a myriad of problems. Gary Bettman is one of them. The irresponsible placement of teams in markets that did not have a hope in hell of supporting an NHL franchise is a fireable offense.

    My suggestion-soft cap and cost certainty. Let small market franchises fold and return the league to the north where it belongs. Change the rules to get rid of the trap and other boring hockey. Arrange a CBA with binding arbitration six months before expiration instead of doing this to the fans.

    At the end of the day, messrs Bettman and Goodenow have done the unforgivable, alienation of the fan base.

  28. nocuphere says:

    Never is HH

  29. hockeyhead says:

    HH is one with nature. haahhaa

    well time to play some texas foldem!!!!!!!!!

    peace out y’all

  30. nordiques100 says:

    there are 2 solutions:

    1)fire bettman. he’s the one who locked out the players, he is the one who brought in way too many teams too quickly, he is the one who agreed to the last CBA in the first place, he is the one who let the game become stagnant and boring, he’s the one who made promises of a hard cap in order to bring in more owners, he is the one the players dont and cant trust.

    2) fire goodenow. he is the one blind to the fact the game’s economics are messed. he is the one who wont look at the numbers when offered. he is the one who turned a blind eye 5 years ago shunning the owners to rework the deal, he is the one who initated immediate look at the CBA before the ink was dry in 1995 to find loopholes and already looking to screw over the teams causing bitterness between the parties involved. he is the one not open to much change due to his ego and need to come out on top like he did in 1995.

    both are the root cause of the problems today. they are too untrustworthy and stubborn to deal with. fresh blood is needed to bring new life to the negotiations and perhaps bring greater trust so a partnership can be formed.

    why dont the players look to bring in someone like Bobby Orr who is one of the most respected people in the game? he is working as an agent now so understands the business i think. also with guys like ted saskin around to handle the legalese stuff there should be no problems in communication and trust if Orr is around. maybe bring in someone like ken baumgartner who is now a lawyer and was a former player. someone who has been part of the nhl and played the game and been around should be leading the charge for the players if they have any partnership with the league. i think the owners would have great trust in people like this which i cant say they have for goodenow. just anyone without such a big ego like goodenow.

    and guys like brian burke who is a former lawyer himself, former agent, former manager and former executive with the league. this guy has been through it all, is a former player so knows it from both sides. he is firm and tough yes but someone the players association would respect and probably could work with.

    of course there are other worthy candidates to lead the league or PA as at this point, anyone is a better choice than those two idiots.

  31. rojoke says:

    You’re 100% certain that each of the 30 teams, even the Leafs, who were at one time a publicly traded corporation, have two sets of books.

    The mistrust that exists today stems from years ago, back to the end of the Eagleson era, which was the late 80’s and early 90’s. But how many NHL owners from that era still operate today? I can only think of three; Jeremy Jacobs in Boston, Bill Wirtz in Chicago and Mike Illitch in Detroit. Most of the rest of the league are under new ownership since Bettman and Goodenow took their respective offices. Is this is a case of guilt by association? And if so, can it be overcome?

  32. 19Yzerman says:

    100% sure each team has 2 sets of books? NOPE!

    They do have this URO they each submit to the league for each season. These UROs are never audited.

    If everyone were certain that no one would never be audited imagine the amount poeple who would fudge income reporting?

    Guilt by association? That is certainly a posabilty.

    if so, can it be overcome? You mentioned having the players walk in the onwers shoes for while.

    Well It wouldn’t to hard to have an NHLPA rep asigned to each team owner who would follow every step and monitor all team revenue transactions.

    I don’t know that income amounts would be the focal point as much as the the expense amounts that are not nessesary. You know those offices for those reletives who make as much as the players. No one ever sees them in those uninhibited office rooms full of unused equipment.

    I have also heard something about some luxuary box revenues that are some how either concealed or exempt from reporting. any info on that?? Anybody???

  33. guinsfan4life says:

    If you tell me that showing the players these books will push toward a salary cap, then I believe that is what they should do.

    Unfortunately you and I both know that will not happen. Even if the books are 90% the numbers the owners say they are, the players will look at it as though the owners lied and can’t be trusted.

    Opening the books is a no-win situation for the owners.

  34. guinsfan4life says:

    Yeah I heard about the box revenues as well. And how they are not reported.

  35. rojoke says:

    Luxury boxes, as well as seat licenses, are different from season tickets. Take the Staples Center. There’s three pro teams that play there; the Kings, Lakers and Clippers. A person who buys season tickets to either of those teams can’t necessarily get a seat to the others. Luxury boxes and seat licenses do. As such, the monies from these boxes and licenses is usually divided up amongst the major tenants, with a portion staying with the arena, if it’s a separate entity.

  36. 19Yzerman says:

    Mixing the sale of different sports in one luxuary suite is a great way to confuse everyone as to who gets how much. Not a Great way to establish trust. As far as showing evidence of deceipt by the owners in the books goes. I think that the NBA is a good example of how it works since the NBA players can and often do look at teams finance records.

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