Friday, November 23, 2012

Give me an C, give me a B - give me a hockey Season!

NHL announces cancellation of schedule through Dec. 14 and 2013 All-Star Weekend in Columbus

Friday, 11.23.2012 / 2:00 PM / News

NEW YORK - The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through December 14. The NHL also announced the cancellation of the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend scheduled for Jan. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio. The cancellations are necessary due to the absence of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.

A total of 422 regular-season games -- 34.3 percent of the season -- were scheduled for Oct. 11 through Dec. 14.

"The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible."

The NHL and NHLPA are still at an impasse. Boy, there's a surprise. On the NHL's site, Fehr and Bettman on Wednesday both said they were far apart. The truth? Well, only those with paperwork in hand know what is really going on. As far as fans go, we hear the talking points outside during the press briefings with both sides looking to make the other look like the stubborn one.


According the the NHL website, Wednesday, 11.21.2012 / 9:20 PM / News

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Fehr said that the players moved "80 percent" in the direction of the owners based off of Commissioner Bettman's previous claim that the sides were $1 billion apart.
Based off of the Union's latest proposal, Fehr said the sides are $182 million apart in the division of hockey-related revenue in their respective proposals. Fehr also said that the Union had abandoned its insistence on a guaranteed dollar amount for the players when dividing up HRR. Instead, the NHLPA would accept a percentage-based formula in its latest proposal -- with the caveat that the players' share can not be less in any season of the agreement than it was in the previous season.

However, Fehr said the NHL's stance on the proposal was, "They appreciate it, but reiterated that they can't move."

"There was, as of today, no reciprocity in any meaningful sense," he added.
Fehr said he would report back to the players and did not want to comment on what would happen next in these negotiations until he did. The Union had a conference call Wednesday evening.

"One of you is going to ask me what happens next and the answer is I don't know," Fehr said. "We'll consider it, talk to the players and then see."

The NHL and NHLPA have been without a CBA since Sept. 16. The League has cancelled all games through Nov. 30 as well as the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, which was scheduled for Jan. 1.

Commissioner Bettman said more cancellations become "inevitable as time goes on," but added he is not at all focused on a date on which the 2012-13 season would be cancelled.

"Quite frankly, we have proposed a long-term agreement that we think is fair and balanced," Commissioner Bettman said. "Assuming we can dig our collective way out of the hole that we're digging ourselves into, we expect that the players would make under the seven-year term that we proposed between $12 [billion] and $14 billion. We're having a tough time understanding why what we have proposed and what we have proposed previously hasn't been accepted and why we're not playing."

As you can see form the top headline, more games were cancelled. The 20-12-2013 is quickly fading away, another season with an asterisk.

What's the answer to this mess? As I posted earlier, get these guys in a room. Get a couple of ex-navy seals to stand guard. The negotiators don't leave until a contract is ready for be voted on and to make it easy, I've drawn up terms.

I have some ideas I’d like to submit to the bargaining table. Perhaps it might help speed the process along and get a shortened hockey season in place.

My ideas can’t be any worse than what has been suggested so far…so here goes.

1)      The players want a bigger piece of the profits. Okay guys, I’ll give you a 60/40 split. Wait for it…with more money, comes a higher responsibility.  You will be expected to attend meet & greets, fan club events, charitable functions, and participate in after game signing (everyone will be rotated). No one gets an exemption and forget about the fee-for-autograph’s (one-per-fan only). No complaints now – you’re getting more money, you had to expect some sort of payback. BUT...during tough times you gotta give up some things, too. A team player bus, funded by you, will pick up monetarily-challenged team staff and minimum wage workers (door-to-door) so they don't have to drive - and - while you guys are at home, you get to help out with the driving chores. Another option is to car pool. One furlough game a month is added every time the team plays below 500.
2)      Player contracts limited to six years, with an option for two more years provided both parties agree. Should one or the other want out, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent (UFA). 
3)      First time player (rookies) contracts limited to three years. When the contract is up, these players become restricted free agents (RFA). They then revert to rule #2.
4)      If both parties want to re-sign, but can’t agree to a salary, then the contract goes to arbitration. Remember, what the arbitrator says goes. Hell, I didn’t get arbitration when my boss said I had to take a pay cut. Feel fortunate you all have this benefit.
5)      ‘No trade’ contracts will become a part of NHL history; instead, players can designate restricted trade contracts where they have to list up to four teams they would be willing to be traded. Do we like franchise players? Yes, fans LOVE them but the reality of such players is unrealistic.  Do I want Patrick Marleau to finish his career in San Jose? Of course, but I am thinking he would be better with another team. Sadly, San Jose has stagnated him. At least this gives a player a say in where he is willing to move.
6)      All rookies must attend a financial counseling session with a financial planner. The one session will review 401ks, stocks, bonds, savings, planning for the day when they can no longer play, and general money management. This is mandatory. Hey, us average citizens have to show our kids how to balance a checkbook and most of our kids aren’t making six figure salaries. This just makes sense. Pensions? Come on guys, the Obama economy is here. You're responsible for your own retirement. 10% from each paycheck goes towards the pension plan of your choice. 1.5% towards a player safety fund. Don't bitch - it might be you who needs that money should you be 100% disabled some day playing a game.

To help attract new fans and bring the old ones back, here are some changes to the game:

1)      To speed up the game, goalie pads will be smaller and net will be bigger. This won’t hurt good goalies. Those who use size & pads to stop pucks will be replaced by those who have talent.
2)      The trapezoid will disappear. Sure – wander around, see what happens. Nabokov can handle pucks. Bet his value goes up.
3)      No touch icing is to be instituted immediately. This rule should have gone into effect a long time ago.
4)      The full penalty time will be served, regardless if a goal is served. Those five minute majors will hurt. Fighting will go down just on the chance of the increased special teams (just how many shorthanded minutes do you want to give Crosby, Couture, Ovie, or any other high scoring player? How many stops is your goalie good for?
5)      Overtime will be three-on-three (Thanks, Sid Crosby for that suggestion). Wide open ice will make for some great puck handing & scoring opportunities. All zebras will be required to wear a blindfold once during a game. It will be their choice which period they select to do so.
6)      Regulation wins are good for 3 points, overtime wins are two points, and overtime losses are 1 point. It will no longer pay to just ‘show-up’ for overtime.
7)      Do away with the instigator rule. Don’t need it if fighting incidents are reduced due to rule #4. Again, Winter Classic must include the Stanley Cup winning team and the opponent from the team. No team is to repeat (except for Stanley Cup winnners, of course) until all teams have appeared in Winter Classic.
8)      All-Star Weekend MUST include player from EACH team before any additional players from teams can participate. I liked when each team had their own mini-skills competition and sent winner to the All-Star Weekend. I’m okay with the Captains picking players. Let the fans pick the two captains via on-line voting. Have a contest to allow three lucky fans, one Canadian, one US and European, to be on the ice as third 'referee' during the All-Star Game. Their presence will be strictly for show, but what a dream for the fans. Provision to state the fan MUST be able to skate and sign injury waiver.
9)      Re-sign TV contract to allow broadcasts of games on Center Ice, regardless of team location or sell-out status. I don’t live in California. I live in the north half of Nevada, yet my cable company doesn’t have the Comcast Sports Net California. This means no San Jose Sharks Hockey! I have read enough complaints on many hockey & sports blogs to know my area is not unique. Even the NHL’s hockey package restricts games in the ‘local area’. Despite repeated requests to my cable carrier, I’m locked out from watching my favorite team. I say, NO MORE!!! The NHL needs to fix this. The NBA, NFL, and NASCAR don’t let their fans languish in limbo, feeling lucky to listen to radio broadcasts via the Internet. A pittance cast to those of us hungry for news.

Next, let’s tackle the ugliest part of our sport.

Cheap shots are not only bad play, they are dangerous. We’ve all watched Brendan Shanahan hand out his suspensions has season.  Repeat offenders still cross-checked, elbowed, and kneed opponents. Concussions and serious brain injuries are no joke not to mention broken bones, neck, spine, and tissue injuries. To help combat cheap shots, the following progressive punishment system will be put in place:

1)      A 20 game suspension for the first offense.
2)      A 40 game suspension for the second offense.
3)      For the third offense, the player is suspended for sixty games.
4)      To make it interesting, the first time offender will have to be the mascot’s keeper (costume optional) for five games).
5)      A second time offender will be required to work as the equipment manager’s gopher for ten games. Remember, this is a punishment.
6)      The third time offender will be required to reply to all fan letters. Any negative responses will be dealt with in the most severe manner. Claims of carpal tunnel syndrome not allowed.
Make the team serve short-handed penalties before the TV timeout. During the first week, show video plays explaining what penalties are. I’ve had friends over who’ve never seen a hockey game. Fans who understands the game enjoys it, gets excited about the game and brings more family & friends to the next one.

There you have it. My simple solutions for a new contract.

Go Sharks and stay safe out there.

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