FRIDAY THE 13th: NHL PLAYS LOW-BALL

Robin Brownlee
July 14 2012 12:46AM

Multiple media outlets are reporting the NHL has tabled its first CBA proposal to the NHLPA. Based on what's being reported, it's a proposal that can only be characterized as a swift kick in the nuts low-ball offer to the NHLPA and the first volley in what stands to be a protracted and likely ugly negotiation.

Simply put, after reading what's being reported as the initial offer being put forward by Gary Bettman and NHL clubs, there is more than a little work to do for there to be any chance whatsoever the 2012-13 season begins on time.

Even by opening offer standards, this is a low-ball proposal with a capital "L" that will be rejected out-of-hand, as most opening offers are, before another 24 hours ticks by. One of the initial reports by the Canadian Press is here.

There is still no word if the phrases "bend over" or "grab your ankles" appear in the offer that's being tabled, but I'm guessing Donald Fehr and his rank and file will dismiss it as such.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

According to the CP story and Sportsnet.ca. the proposal put forward by the NHL includes:

--Reducing the player's share of hockey related revenue (what constitutes hockey related revenue will also be re-defined) by 11 per cent – to 46 per cent from the current 57 per cent.

--NHL player service to UFA status would increase to 10 years. Under the CBA that expires Sept. 15, it's seven years.

--Standard entry level deals would be for terms of five years. The standard now is three years.

--The NHL is proposing five-year contract limits. That will put an end to long-term deals like the 15-year pact Ilya Kovalchuk signed with New Jersey in in 2010 and the 13-year contracts Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed last week.

That third item – entry level deals being extended to five years – will be of particular interest to fans of the Edmonton Oilers, who have yet to come to terms with 2012 first overall pick Nail Yakupov.

THIS MIGHT TAKE AWHILE

While neither the NHL or the NHLPA has offered comment on the reports circulating now, there's been plenty of reaction around the Twitterverse in the hours since the first reports went online.

Jim Matheson@NHLbyMatty First move by NHL owners to tell players they'll give them 46% of revenues sounds like a ripping elbow to the head to me

Jim Matheson@NHLbyMatty If we have NHL training camps open in mid-Sept, I'll eat the first three pages of the Official Guide and Record Book.

bruce dowbiggin@dowbboy Nothing in NHL changes till Gary goes and a new commish appears who is not trying to refine 1990s salary cap theory in 2012.

Bryn Griffiths@Fan960Griffiths Wonder if the NHL folks were able to keep a straight face when presenting low-ball first offer to the NHLPA today? #comedynetwork

Bob McKenzie@TSNBobMcKenzie When NFL/NBA deals were settled at (players' share of) 50 per cent or less, we knew this was destined to be another "takeaway" negotiation.

Settle in, everybody. This has short season written all over it.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 Oilcruzer
July 15 2012, 09:59PM
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Tiger, seriously now, the "you obviously" or "it is sad" or ""you don't have the knowledge" lines are character assassinations. You dont know me, however you are both quick to judge and faster yet at making uninformed assumptions.

While you may be the smartest person that you know, know this. You can't take tidbits of lines within a dialogue and use what best fits your assumptions and make a successful argument.

Ignoring the entire dialogue to serve your agenda smacks of manipulation.

As far as some other points go...

You say if I bothered to google "why positional negotiation tactics" for two minutes, I would find you are right. Really? So, if it's on the Internet, it must be true? Really? (Really...)

And what if I countered that your statement might be incorrect to apply unilaterally? Wait a sec while I copy it. K, here it is...

Positional negotiation invariably takes longer and is unnecessarily adversarial

Nevermind the fact you ignored my position that we aren't smarter than the brain trusts who agreed to this proposal.

Add to that, nevermind that we don't have all the facts to confidently be certain that the Owners aren't or are correct. To draw a conclusion, either way, without being privy to the facts, is simply speaking out of your a$s.

In spite of all of this, there is another card to be played.

Interest based negotiations can (not are) be more successful. They are most successful in tangible quantification of assets. E.G. "That car (seems to be a popular topic) is worth x." "No, it's worth y." To come in here with a ludicrous figure is only going to create the template for animosity and a dispute resolution process.

On the other hand, hypothetical and non-tangible assets are speculative. Given the difficulty in proving a position, either way, it is likely that the conclusion will be some form of saw off figure. To open with a high figure is unlikely to achieve desired results.

Last item... Yes, you can quote what I wrote, I stand by it. In the end, I didn't say that they fans can't or the players can't have an opinion, as you continue to suggest was my statement. I said the owners hold the cards. They cut the cheques and they are a monopoly. Only they will determine how this plays out.

Back to topic... You want to make a point... Fine. Remember though that it was you who stated outright...

Positional negotiation invariably takes longer and is unnecessarily adversarial

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#102 Oilcruzer
July 15 2012, 10:04PM
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( cont'd)

... that the owners tactics are wrong. They may be, but you don't know that they aren't correct. No one else here buys into the theory that "Tigerunderglass knows more than the entire brain trust of the NHL ownership group and their corporate advisors".

(With apologies for typos... Created on an iPad.)

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#103 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2012, 11:44AM
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@Oilcruzer

Ignoring the entire dialogue to serve your agenda smacks of manipulation.

The entire dialog consists of me expressing an opinion and you telling me I'm wrong for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with my opinion. What exactly am I supposed to have ignored?

Tiger, seriously now, the "you obviously" or "it is sad" or ""you don't have the knowledge" lines are character assassinations. You dont know me, however you are both quick to judge and faster yet at making uninformed assumptions.

I don't think "character" means what you think it means. Just about your understanding of the subject. I'm sure you're a stand-up fellow.

Nevermind the fact you ignored my position that we aren't smarter than the brain trusts who agreed to this proposal.

This isn't a position, it's an appeal to authority.

Add to that, nevermind that we don't have all the facts to confidently be certain that the Owners aren't or are correct. To draw a conclusion, either way, without being privy to the facts, is simply speaking out of your a$s.

What facts are those? A reference to some vague mysterious facts I lack is absurd.

Interest based negotiations can (not are) be more successful. They are most successful in tangible quantification of assets. E.G. "That car (seems to be a popular topic) is worth x." "No, it's worth y." To come in here with a ludicrous figure is only going to create the template for animosity and a dispute resolution process. On the other hand, hypothetical and non-tangible assets are speculative. Given the difficulty in proving a position, either way, it is likely that the conclusion will be some form of saw off figure. To open with a high figure is unlikely to achieve desired results.

None of this makes any sense. You're trying to pretend you now understand the subject, but you're more lost than ever.

Last item... Yes, you can quote what I wrote, I stand by it. In the end, I didn't say that they fans can't or the players can't have an opinion, as you continue to suggest was my statement. I said the owners hold the cards. They cut the cheques and they are a monopoly. Only they will determine how this plays out.

ie. Another big fat appeal to authority.

Back to topic... You want to make a point... Fine. Remember though that it was you who stated outright... Positional negotiation invariably takes longer and is unnecessarily adversarial

This is the crux of our problem. I keep waiting for you to get around to telling my why my statement is wrong. Instead you keep repeating comments that do not relate to my statement in any way.

I like it when people disagree with my opinion. It gives us something to talk about, but this is not that. You're attacking nothing. We'd have much more to talk about if you actually disputed my statement, but for now why don't you just keep building those straw men and let me know how it goes when you're done.

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#104 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2012, 11:47AM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

( cont'd)

... that the owners tactics are wrong. They may be, but you don't know that they aren't correct. No one else here buys into the theory that "Tigerunderglass knows more than the entire brain trust of the NHL ownership group and their corporate advisors".

(With apologies for typos... Created on an iPad.)

I never asked anyone to do so.

I merely expressed an opinion. You decided to tell me how someone else's opinion incorrect.

It should be noted however that I do consider the the term "NHL braintrust" an oxymoron. Anyone who knows anything about drafting contracts and has read through the CBA likely agrees with me.

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#105 Oilcruzer
July 16 2012, 01:45PM
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K, I'll ignore the mis statements this time. Here is the crux.

You state (paraphrased), the path chosen by the ownership is wrong. It is going to take longer this way, and it will be (more) confrontational.

Correct?

I say, maybe, maybe not. This is not a 100% certainty.

More important, i say it doesnt matter anyway. this isn't about making friends, it's business. The owners are more interested in net worth / valuations than how long it takes.

I.e. if it takes 1extra month to save $500,000 a yr for five years, they'll do it.

I don't like it either.

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#106 TigerUnderGlass
July 16 2012, 04:20PM
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@Oilcruzer

I say, maybe, maybe not. This is not a 100% certainty.

Not exactly.

You said "Maybe, maybe not, because of X", but X has nothing to do with my opinion.

The difference is important.

I'm suggesting a shift in negotiating framework from A to B and you keep arguing from within the framework of A to suggest B is wrong. It isn't possible.

Understand that I like that you think I'm wrong, I'm just waiting for a relevant rebuttal.

More important, i say it doesnt matter anyway. this isn't about making friends, it's business. The owners are more interested in net worth / valuations than how long it takes. I.e. if it takes 1extra month to save $500,000 a yr for five years, they'll do it.

None of this is remotely relevant. Straw men and appeals to authority.

Please see above.

I don't like it either.

It makes no difference to me how they choose to negotiate, but the world is shifting away from the idea that negotiation means trading proposals and fighting for position. Unfortunately the NHL is too old a dog to learn new tricks.

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#107 Oilcruzer
July 16 2012, 08:58PM
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Not exactly. It's not that I think you are wrong, but rather you might be wrong that the tactics are incorrect.

I agree that I believe you are wrong if your position is such that positional negotiation is wrong at all times, in all instances.

That is point A.

Point B is my second opinion. It does not hinge on A.

The ownership hold the cards. They simply don't care what method they choose, (generally and within reason of course), provided they achieve their goal.

The ownership (again generally) have fall back interests to keep them busy, and wealthy. There are few alternatives for the athletes, and, they have a limited window for collection on their talents (although Teemu Selanne kicks that point to some degree).

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#108 CODD_FATHER
July 17 2012, 10:06AM
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Truth be told the retail price was $47,990.It was a used unit.You could have come back at $40,000.

Anyways still a fan.Keep up the good work Mr.Brownlee.

And guys,stay off the mans lawn.Cheers!!!

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#109 TigerUnderGlass
July 17 2012, 04:10PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Not exactly. It's not that I think you are wrong, but rather you might be wrong that the tactics are incorrect.

I agree that I believe you are wrong if your position is such that positional negotiation is wrong at all times, in all instances.

That is point A.

Point B is my second opinion. It does not hinge on A.

The ownership hold the cards. They simply don't care what method they choose, (generally and within reason of course), provided they achieve their goal.

The ownership (again generally) have fall back interests to keep them busy, and wealthy. There are few alternatives for the athletes, and, they have a limited window for collection on their talents (although Teemu Selanne kicks that point to some degree).

Wonderful. The owners don't care if they negotiate effectively, yet you still want to call it a braintrust?

It's like saying driving from Calgary to Edmonton in an 82 Pinto is no worse than doing it in a brand new Ferrari because both will get you to Edmonton.

You think I am wrong but refuse to provide a single relevant reason for this opinion other than what you now indicate is part of a separate and unrelated opinion.

Let me ask you this - What is it you believe I am suggesting the owners should have done instead? Because your earlier explanation of when interest based negotiations are and aren't effective was essentially the opposite of the truth.

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#110 Oilcruzer
July 17 2012, 10:59PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

I'm not suggesting you are wrong, but that you may be wrong. My take is that I don't believe in absolute statements. Saying that the route taken will (instead of might be, or on balance is likely to be the wrong path would fly).Is the crux of what I take issue with.

The Ferrari could get you to Edmonton faster, but what if it was pointed south?

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#111 TigerUnderGlass
July 18 2012, 06:03PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

I'm not suggesting you are wrong, but that you may be wrong. My take is that I don't believe in absolute statements. Saying that the route taken will (instead of might be, or on balance is likely to be the wrong path would fly).Is the crux of what I take issue with.

The Ferrari could get you to Edmonton faster, but what if it was pointed south?

That isn't how you responded though. Instead you told me how you thought the NHL's position was a good one.

You're trying to backpedal without admitting anything.

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#112 Oilcruzer
July 19 2012, 08:48AM
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@TigerUnderGlass

That is how I responded, or rather how I intended my point to be perceived.

My issue was how your initial position read. That the owners path chosen is one that is proven to always be the wrong means.

I've tried to say for a number of pages now... "maybe, but not certainly".

Point two is if the tactic's path is slower, it may be correct if the alternative method rushes you into the wrong settlement. However, you might be right that, had they opened with what you perceive to be a more conciliatory approach, they may find that they could (not certainly will) speed into a faster settlement by other means.

Apologies for my lack of clarity.

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