Sunday, December 23, 2012

TSN Article: NHLPA Votes to Dissolve - What's Fehr's Next Move?

I wrote an article for TSN entitled, "NHLPA Has Authority To Dissolve - What's Next?". 

The players have voted to grant Donald Fehr the authority to dissolve the NHLPA. 

The question now is what does the NHLPA do? 

It's their move.

Click here to read the article.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Your Say Through Twitter: Will You Come Back To NHL Hockey?

I asked people on Twitter if they would come back to NHL hockey when play resumes. Here are some of the responses:


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Team 1200 Radio Clip: NHL Lawsuit and CBA Talks

Yesterday, I joined Steve Lloyd and Jason York from the Team 1200. I addressed the NHL lawsuit, why they filed it, and why it will be tough for the players to file a lawsuit in a more friendly court.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Collection of TSN Articles on the NHL Lockout & Decertification and Disclaimer of Interest

If you haven't had a chance to read my 3 TSN articles, they  are below. They will help in understanding what on earth is going on in these NHL CBA talks from a legal standpoint. 

Just click on the article to read it.

TSN Article: The NHL Lawsuit & What's Next

I have written an article for TSN entitled, "The NHL Lawsuit & What's Next". I address the NHL lawsuit and what it really means to CBA negotiations.

Here is an excerpt:
Could The NHL Lawsuit & NHLPA Disclaimer End The Lockout Quicker?
Yes. No. Maybe. It's not unreasonable to share the view that the introduction of antitrust litigation will encourage the sides to settle. The players filing their own lawsuit, which would not be a surprise to see this week, may also result in further pressure to get a deal done.

Friday, December 14, 2012

TSN SportsCentre Interview: Decertification & The NHL Lawsuit

I join TSN SportsCentre anchor Jennifer Hedger to chat about decertification, disclaimer of interest and the NHL lawsuit. We cover everything in about 2 minutes. 

Team 1200 Radio Clip - NHL Lawsuit

I joined Dave Gross and Shawn Simpson on the Team 1200 in late afternoon to talk about the NHL's lawsuit. 

Click here to listen to the clip.

Sirius XM Radio Clip - NHL Lawsuit

I joined the boys over at the NHL Network on Sirius XM Radio to talk about today's NHL lawsuit seeking to declare the lockout legal.

ESPN Article: Disclaimer of Interest

ESPN's Scott Burnside interviews me on decertification versus disclaimer of interest. Click here to read it.

Team 1260 Radio Clip: Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, Tootie, Blair, Quantum Leap, Full House & The NHL Talks

I joined Dustin Nielson and Will Fraser at the Team 1260 for my weekly clip. 

We talked about very important issues, including Silver Spoons, the Facts of Life, Lisa Whelchel (Blair), Scott Bakula and Quantum Leap, Jodie Sweetin and Full House, and of course Tootie.

We also addressed how Dustin loves - just loves - the show That's So Raven. He said he watched it "all the time" with his sister and took "a ton of notes" every time Raven-Symone spoke. Dustin made this point: "When is Raven NOT right? Hello? Like NEVER!". Part of this paragraph is not true.

Oh yes - we talked a bit of NHL and the mediation sessions.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CBS Article: Saints Bounty Decision & What It Means

My CBS article entitled "Saints Bounty Decision & What It Means" digs deep into Paul Tagliabue's decision. We know that Tagliabue reversed the suspensions. Why did he do this and what does this mean for the NFL, Roger Goodell and Jonathan Vilma moving forward.

Here is an excerpt:
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has reversed commissioner Roger Goodell's suspensions of Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita and Will Smith. This is despite finding the existence of a bounty program that so deeply mutated into something disturbing and misguided. 
So how to reconcile these findings? Below are the key points distilled from Tagliabue's very legal decision (click here to read his decision).
What is the takeaway from Tagliabue's decision?
Let's start with what it's not. This decision does not stand for the principle that if a coach tells a player to intentionally injure another player, and he does it, he will not be held responsible.

ESPN: NHL Mediation

I was interviewed by Scott Burnside from ESPN on the value of a second round of mediation and the removal of Donald Fehr from negotiations.

Click here to read the article (scroll down a bit past Lebrun article).

TSN Radio Clip: NHL Lockout

I join Jim Tatti and Scotty MaCarthur at TSN Radio to discuss the NHL lockout. We covered a lot.

Here's a link.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Non-Guaranteed Contracts & Saints Bounty Gate

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has vacated all suspensions in the Saints bounty case, while upholding the fines. In doing so, Tagliabue shifted most of the blame from the players to the Saints organization citing “broad organizational misconduct.”

An important question to ask is this: do what extent do non-guaranteed contracts encourage players to ignore their better judgement and comply with the direction of a coach?

Non-Guaranteed Deals

NFL players don’t have guaranteed contracts, which means they can be cut if they are under performing. While it may not seem reasonable or fair, this condition of employment was collectively bargained by the NFL and players, and as a result, that’s how things are for the players.

However, it is reasonable and fair to ask whether non-guaranteed contracts make events like the Saints Bounty program more likely. 

When you look at the surrounding circumstances, they are a contributing factor.

NFL Coaches Are Powerful

Perhaps more than any other sport, NFL players fear their coaches. NFL coaches often act as de facto general managers. They can cut or sit players if they are not performing as directed. Indeed, NFL coaches wield a lot of power. Players appreciate that coaches have the power to impair their careers, or worse, end them.

Tagliabue agreed, writing this in his decision:
NFL players on average have short careers; their careers can end suddenly through injury or declining skills; players want to be good, cohesive members of the team, or unit, not complainers or dissenters; and players accept that they work for coaches, in "programs" conceived by coaches. These are programs for which coordinators and assistant coaches are often specially selected and hired to execute. Here we have a classic example: Head Coach Payton hired Defensive Coordinator Williams with directions to make the Saints' defense "nasty."
In such circumstances, players may not have much choice but to "go along," to comply with coaching demands or directions that they may question or resent. They may know -- or believe -- that from the coaches' perspective, "it's my way or the highway." Coaching legends such as George Halas and Vince Lombardi are not glorified or remembered because they offered players "freedom of choice."
Average NFL Salary & Career Span

About half the NFL population makes about $500,000 or less, and the average playing career is somewhere around 3.5 years (depending on who you ask). Agreed – some NFL players are very well paid, like Brees, Manning and Rodgers. However, many players don’t play long and don’t make a lot of money, which can represent an added incentive to follow the direction of the coaches.

And don't forget, players can and are replaced in the NFL.

Socio-Economic Status

A number of players come from disadvantaged backgrounds and want to avoid a return to that life.

Take DE Anthony Hargrove, who was suspended 8 games for his role in the Saints Bounty program.

When Hargrove was 6 years old, the Brooklyn tenement where he lived with his mother and two of his four half-siblings burned down. He ended up living in homeless shelters and foster care homes until his mother died when he was 9 years old. Later, an aunt in Port Charlotte adopted him. In June 2011, Hargrove's older brother Terence Hargrove died after being stabbed numerous times in North Port Florida. Hargrove himself has suffered from drug addiction and spent a year in rehab.

Was the incentive there for Hargrove to follow orders and injure other players? We can’t know for sure since we can’t crawl into his head. However, you have to wonder if the threat of being cut or benched, together with all that comes with it, may have encouraged his compliance.

Background aside, many players may think twice about not following the game plan. Players who make it to the NFL want to stay there – irrespective of background or previous socio-economic status.

Ultimately, in light of a player’s limited earning potential and limited career length, non-guaranteed contracts may make players more likely to ignore their better judgement and comply with orders to injure other players.

Or at the very least, non-guaranteed contracts may create an environment where a player would seriously think about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TSN Article: NHLPA Decertification vs. Disclaimer of Interest

I wrote an article for TSN entitled Legal Look: NHLPA Decertification vs. Disclaimer Of Interest. I clear up the confusion between the two, which are used interchangeably.

Friday, December 7, 2012

CBS Article: Why NHL Player Vote is Unlikely

I wrote an article for CBS entitled "Why Donald Fehr Should Not Put Offer to Vote". Here is an excerpt:
There is some talk that Donald Fehr should put the NHL’s proposal to a player vote. The idea is that the players may agree to the deal if given that opportunity.
However, a player vote under these circumstances is unlikely. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Critical: Long Term Labor Peace for the NHL

It's critical. Absolutely critical.

The NHL and NHLPA should aim for a long term CBA. It is critical for the health of a league, and particularly so for the NHL.

We've heard that the NHL is proposing a 10 year CBA. Since negotiations started this summer, we have seen all kinds of terms proposed, including 6 years by the NHL and as little as 3 years by the NHLPA.

Health of a League

Long term CBAs are so important in promoting stability and growth of sports leagues. When there is extended labor peace, business partners are more likely to invest in a league long term. In those cases, leagues can more easily position themselves to secure long term deals on media rights, naming rights, season ticket sales, suite sales and sponsorships. The guarantee of labor peace provides business partners with the motivation to spend more for longer periods of time. 

And let's not forget that a long term deal makes it more likely that fans will buy season ticket packages. 

So extended labor peace means increases in revenue and attendance, while also promoting growth and stability. 

The NFL gets it with its 10 year CBA with no opt outs. The NBA gets it as well with a 10 year CBA with mutual opt outs after year 6. 

Record Profits for the Packers

Recently, the Green Bay Packers shattered earnings and revenue records in the year ended March 31, 2012. The team reported that revenue hit a record high of $302M, a $19.4M increase, while net income hit $42.7M, up from $17.1M.

In large part, what did team CEO and President Mark Murphy credit for this increase in revenue? The NFL's 10 year CBA.

"To me the fact we had guaranteed labor peace and a 10-year agreement probably was as meaningful as anything,” said Murphy. “At a local level, we have seen since the new CBA has been finalized, [the team] entering into long term agreements with sponsors, and a new preseason TV package that would have not have been possible without the labor deal.”

That's a pretty powerful - and true - statement - "[it] would have not have been possible without the labor deal". And bear in mind the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2011, which reasonably would have generated excitement, interest and revenue.

NHL Needs A Long Deal

The NHL and NHLPA should not want a long term CBA - they should feel like they need it. To say the least, fans are unhappy. Arguably, in 2005 fans were more likely to indulge the NHL because they recognized the business model was broken. There was no cost certainty with 73% of league revenue going to player costs. However, this time around, NHL fans are far less likely to indulge the NHL. Fans don't see a broken business model in need of an overhaul; they see the players and owners grappling over their share of revenue. This has resulted in an erosion of the NHL goodwill, and in some cases, may cause the NHL and its brand irreparable harm.

One way to try and repair the relationship with fans is by signing a 10 year CBA. This would send a clear message to fans that while negotiations did not go as planned, a real effort was made to avoid another labor disruption in the not too distant future.

As well, extended labor peace will help the NHL repair its relationships with its business partners. The reality at this point is that some businesses have allocated their marketing dollars elsewhere and some may not come back anytime soon. However, the promise of labor peace may be the olive branch that encourages disenchanted partners to return.

And the NHL needs it olive branches.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mediation, Arbitration, Decertification & the NHL Player/Owner Meeting

I had the over under on mediation at 3 days. Lasted just 2.

Now we hear that Donald Fehr has agreed to a player/owner meeting with conditions.

Will it work? What’s next? Should I consider starting a cricket pool?

Mediation Fails

It was unfortunately not a surprise to see mediation between the NHL and NHLPA fail. Sport league disputes that involve billions of dollars very simply do not have a profile for settlement at mediation.

We need only look to the recent past for evidence. In 2011, both the NFL and NBA were locked out, both turned to mediation and both to the very skilled and respected George Cohen and his federal agency, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. However, in both cases, Cohen was unable to bridge the divide.

Since those mediations failed, and others as well (the NHL in 2005), it was not reasonable to expect that the NHL mediation was going to meet with success.

Both Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr are bright and intimately familiar with the key issues at play. It was unlikely that mediation was going offer up an epiphany or give the sides an Oprah-Aha moment that would lead to a deal in principle. It was more likely to give rise to moments punctuated with statement like “I don’t agree”, “I don’t think so” and “Hey, that was my muffin”.

Why Don’t the Sides Go To Arbitration?

Unlike mediation, where mediators just try to facilitate settlement, an arbitrator (of which I am one) renders a binding decision. Absent an appeal, the sides must follow the ruling of the arbitrator.

Wrestling over billions of dollars and complex contract issues, leagues are simply uncomfortable with arbitration. The last thing they want – and that goes for the players as well – is having to live with a deal they hate.

We often see arbitration in labor disputes, where someone feels like they were fired without a good reason. We even see it within the sports arena, where players and teams go to arbitration over things like salary. However, to have a third party decide the fate of a league’s business model for the foreseeable future is a no-go and would never happen.

So forget about arbitration. Zero chance.

Bettman’s Proposal: Players and Owners Meet

An admission that the Fehr/Bettman dynamic is not working, the Commissioner proposed that the leaders on both sides recuse themselves for the time being and let the players and owners negotiate directly.

Yesterday, we learned that Fehr agreed to the player/owner meeting – but with conditions. His brother Stephen Fehr will be present. On the NHL’s side, Bettman has countered with Daly.

The meeting was not going to happen without conditions. At law, inequality of bargaining power between employer and employee is an important legal concept and one that courts take very seriously. It refers to one side having more power than the other side by virtue of their position and knowledge. Under those circumstances, the more powerful side can secure more favourable terms of settlement simply by virtue of the power imbalance. 

That’s why you will often see contracts include a clause that provides that the sides have sought independent legal advice. And that’s why contracts with minors are generally unenforceable.

And that’s why players have agents and a Union leader.

In the case of NHL owners and its players, there is unequal bargaining power. The owners operate in the complex and sophisticated world of business on a daily basis. They are comfortable and experienced with that setting. Most players, however, don’t have that comfort or experience. And why should they? They are hockey players that have not had the chance to gain the requisite level of expertise in the field of business.

As well, the owners are the bosses, and there is an inherent imbalance as a result of the employer/employee relationship.

It would be unreasonable to ask an owner to jump onto the ice. It is equally unjust to ask a player to jump into the boardroom. The players may well be very capable to grasp the issues. However, they lack the experience and confidence required to bargain effectively.

So Fehr agreeing to the proposed player/owner meeting with conditions is no surprise.

What If The Meeting Doesn’t Work?

If Fehr and company conclude that there is no room for compromise, the NHLPA could elect to dissolve itself by way of a disclaimer of interest with a view initiating antitrust litigation. The first goal in that case would be to ask a court to declare the lockout unlawful and lift it. If that happened, the NHL would have to resume operations (unless it appealed – which it would). The NHLPA would probably bring the lawsuit in a jurisdiction favourable to players, like California.

However, if the NHL believes that the threat of the NHLPA dissolving itself is very real, the NHL could sue first. They would do this in an attempt to secure a court in a jurisdiction (like New York as the NBA did) that favours the owners. Filing lawsuits first is a good way to try and get a favourable court. With two lawsuits about the same thing in different courts, we would likely see a fight over which court should hear the case. Messy.

Ultimately, the NHL need only to look to Marvin Miller’s legacy, the history of the MLBPA and Fehr’s 24 years as head of the MLBPA to understand why the NHL’s current proposal has not gained traction.

Little will change with a player/owner meeting unless something is given up. It’s less about who is talking and what is being said.

In fact, it's possible that the players may be more emotional than Fehr (actually, bet on it), and a meeting that is not handled with skill and care may set things back, rather than advance them.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

TSN Radio: Naylor and I Chat NHL

I got riled up again. I joined Dave Naylor with TSN Radio to chat NHL. We talked decertification, mediation and why this hasn't settled.

Click here to listen.

TSN Radio Clip: Next Steps in NHL Dispute

I joined Jim Tatti and Scott MaCarthur with TSN Toronto Radio to talk about the failure of NHL mediation and next steps. Logically, we also cover the smash hit TV show, Love Boat.

Just a thought - Gavin Macleod may just have the right touch to bring the parties together.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Team 1200 Radio Clip: What's Next After NHL Mediation Fails

I joined Steve Lloyd and Jason York this morning to discuss the failed NHL/NHLPA mediation and what's next. We go through decertification, who can sue who and ways this might unfold. This has the potential to unravel just a bit.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NHL Lockout: When Mediation Works & When It Doesn't

I wrote an article for CBS entitled "NHL Lockout: When Mediation Works & When It Doesn't".

Here is an excerpt:
This is key in the NHL dispute. Even if the sides have open minds, mediating this dispute to resolution remains an uphill battle. These types of billion-dollar sport disputes simply do not have a profile for settlement at mediation even under ideal circumstances. The leaders on both sides are intimately familiar with the issues at play and can be rather dogmatic in their resistance. So complicating matters would be entering mediation convinced that your position is the right one.
There's more.
Read the article here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TSN's That's Hockey: Me & Gino Chat About NHL Mediation

I join TSN's That's Hockey host Gino Reda to talk about the NHL and NHLPA agreeing to take their talents to mediation. Will it work?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

ESPN: Scott Burnside and I Chat About NHL Mediation

ESPN's Scott Burnside recently interviewed me regarding the NHL and NHLPA's decision to go to mediation. 

Is it likely to be successful?

Monday, November 26, 2012

CTV News: Me & Sandie Talk CFL, Grey Cup and The Biebs

I join Sandie Renaldo to talk about the CFL, the Grey Cup and Justin Bieber as the headliner for the halftime show. We focus on what the CFL was seeking to accomplish with the Biebs headlining. 

The CFL gets the importance of big events when looking to enhance brand profile. It's a very crowded marketplace, with lots of places to drop your disposable income. It's important for a business like the CFL to do things that gets eyeballs and visibility.

TSN Article: Legal Look: A Primer On NHLPA Decertification

I wrote an article for entitled, " Legal Look: A Primer On NHLPA Decertification".

Here's an excerpt:
With talks seemingly stalled, we are hearing the NHLPA and players are considering decertification as their next option. NBA commissioner David Stern characterized decertification as triggering a 'nuclear winter'. Decertification has also been called an AK-47. It's a pretty dramatic tool and can have serious repercussions.
Read the article here. Hopefully it addresses the fundamentals.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NHL Decertification In 206 Words

I'm putting together an overview on decertification and how it applies in the context of these NHL CBA talks.

Before I get that out, here's a real quick hit on the bottom line as it relates to decertification.

It’s unlawful for competitors to get together and fix the marketplace. If they do so, they open themselves up to antitrust lawsuits. This applies to the NHL, because the 30 team owners are competitors and they get together and place restrictions on the NHL marketplace. Things like a salary cap, free agency restrictions and rookie pay are all on their face antitrust violations. Another thing that is an antitrust violation: the owners getting together and agreeing to lockout the players.

However, since these restrictions are inside the protective bubble that is the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the NHL is protected and the players can’t sue for these antitrust violations.

That all changes though if the players decertify. By decertifying, the NHL players blow up the NHLPA and revoke the NHLPA’s authority to bargain on their behalf.

Suddenly, the CBA exception protecting the NHL against antitrust lawsuits may no longer apply and players are now free to sue the NHL for its antitrust violations. The first antitrust violation they would tackle in court is to have the illegal boycott that is the NHL lockout declared unlawful and lifted.

The players hope that the threat of antitrust litigation will encourage the NHL to settle on more favourable terms.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Hockey News: Decertification

I provided some comment in Ken Campbell's The Hockey News article on decertification. I'm a fan of Ken's work so enjoyed it.

Is dissolving the NHLPA, which has helped increase player wages astronomically, the best option for all players?  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

TSN's That's Hockey: Decertification

I join Gino Reda of TSN's That's Hockey to talk decertification.

Click here to watch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Interview: Former NHLPA head Paul Kelly

Last night on Offside, we interviewed Paul Kelly, the former head of the NHLPA and a partner at the law firm Jackson Lewis. We've done lots of interviews and this one ranks up there in terms of information and insight. Kelly summarized where we were, where things are and what's next in a real nice way.

If you have been following the lockout a bit or a lot, this interview is a must listen. 

BREAKING - November 21, 2012 NHLPA Memo to Members

Today, Donald Fehr issued a memo to the players after meeting with the NHL. 

He starts the memo as follows:

The NHLPA’s Negotiating Committee today provided the NHL Owners with a comprehensive 6 page proposal on the key issues (see below). As you will read in the proposal, the players have made substantial moves in order to address all of the owners’ concerns, end the owners’ lockout and get the game back on the ice. Our proposal works off the league’s proposed language/structures and moves off our position that there be a guaranteed players’ share. These are major moves in the owners’ direction. Regarding player contractual issues, we have also addressed the owners concerns regarding back-diving contacts and NHL contacts being “buried” in the minors.

Fehr continues by indicating that there is now an "undisputed gap" between the sides when it comes to revenue:

Now that we have made this proposal, there is no longer any doubt as to how far apart the parties are in dollars.  As you will recall, we had previously said we thought the gap was less than $200M, while the owners had said that the gap was much larger and close to $1B.  Under our proposal, it is now undisputed that the gap is only $182 M over 5 years.  Now it is up to the owners to finally make a move towards the players.

At the same time, we have protected player rights by refusing to accept their proposals restricting free agency and salary arbitration. 

Fehr continues by outlining the key points in the NHLPA's proposal:

Here are a few significant details from our proposal: 

Players’ Share: A major move in the owners’ direction by removing guarantees or fixed targets for Players’ share.

Honouring Players’ Contracts/Transition payments: Players’ Share will equal 50 percent of HRR plus fixed payments in the first four years to partially honour player contracts and ease the transition to 50/50:

2012-13 - $182M
2013-14 - $128M
2014-15 - $72M
2015-16 - $11M
Total $393M
*The owners had previously proposed $211M

Long-term back-diving contracts – Cap benefit recapture rule so clubs no longer benefit from front-loading contracts (move in the owners’ direction)

Contracts in the minors – Clubs take a cap hit on contracts in the minors over $1M (move in the owners’ direction)

Four Recall Rule – Unlimited recalls after regular season (move in the owners’ direction)

Salary Arbitration – Elimination of walk-away from arbitrator’s decision, but clubs can still “walk-away” by not qualifying a player

...We will provide a further update following this meeting.  

Here's the actual proposal:

 NHLPA Proposal -- 21 November 2012

This proposal addresses significant open issues concerning revenue sharing, player contracting, the players’ share, and certain other open areas, as reflected below.  This proposal does not address other items upon which we have agreed or are pending, such as health and safety, hockey issues, the “jock tax”, and international. 

1)         Revenue Sharing

•            Pool of $200 Million at $3.303 B of HRR.  Varies year to year with HRR.
•            Contributions to be raised per NHL formula.  No discretion to increase individual team contributions beyond what formula provides
•            Existing level of distributions to be protected for 2 years.  If additional funds needed, raised pro-rata from all teams
•            Revenue Sharing Oversight Committee (RSOC) has discretion to adjust amounts for Phase One distributions by up to +/- 15% per team, provided that all such adjustments are considered and decided upon at one time
o           RSOC by unanimous vote may move beyond +/- 15% limitation towards but not exceeding the straight pool value for regular season HRR.  (Must therefore compute straight pool every year.)
•            Industry Growth Fund to be managed by the RSOC. 
o           IGF will have callable dollars of up to $20M in first year, $40M in second year, and $60M in each subsequent year of the agreement.
o           Need to establish criteria for which teams may apply for IGF funding and/or will submit plans. 
o           IGF funding is available to any team by unanimous consent of RSOC
o           IGF funding also available for industry-wide programs or projects
•            RSOC has seven (7) members selected by the parties in their sole discretion, as follows
o           Four employer representatives, at least one of which must by an owner
o           Three (3) player representatives, at least one of which must be a player
o           Parties may name up to 2 Alternate RSOC representatives who will serve in the event of absence of a member
o           Need to spell out in drafting the process of the RSOC, and limited arbitral review of decisions

2)         Defined Benefit Pension Plan

•            The parties will establish a defined benefit pension plan under US law per the NHLPA proposal. 

3)         Discipline

•            For on-ice discipline, there will be an appeal to a neutral arbitrator or to a panel of three arbitrators (one appointed by each side and one neutral).  The standard of review will be whether the League’s finding of a violation of the League Playing Rules was supported by substantial evidence, and, if so, whether the penalty imposed was within the League’s reasonable discretion and consistent with past practice
•            For off-ice discipline, there will be an appeal to the impartial arbitrator.  The issue will be whether the discipline was for just cause.

4)         Player Contracting and System Issues

•            NHLPA liability for escrow is eliminated from the side letter.
•            NHLPA may set a higher percentage for escrow in a given year than the formula would provide.  The NHL may also set a higher percentage than the formula would provide in the last year of the agreement, provided that any number so set is not unreasonable.
•            The Playoff Pool is increased per the NHLPA proposal
•            Liquidated damages provisions in SPCs are prohibited.  This applies only to new contracts, i.e., contracts entered into after a new CBA is in effect. 
•            Prompt mutual disclosure of European loan agreements, ATOs and PTOs.
•            NHLPA proposal on no trade / no move clauses
•            NHL proposal to prevent a team playing with less than the minimum of 18/2 is accepted provided limitation is the NHL minimum + $100,000; counts against the share but not the cap.
•            Waivers
o           Re-entry waivers are eliminated
o           Waivers will be required to loan a player who is on emergency recall if that player has played 10 games
o           NHLPA proposal on 13.23 waivers
•            Four Recall Rule
o           After the conclusion of the Regular Season,  a Club may exercise an unlimited number of additional Regular Recalls provided that it may have no more than three (3) Players on its Active Roster who were recalled by way of Regular Recall after the Trade Deadline
•            Minimum salary continues to increase on the same schedule as previous CBA, $25,000 every second year
•            Goepfert Rule as proposed by NHLPA  
•            Performance bonus cushion in each year of the agreement
•            The Lower limit must be satisfied without consideration of performance bonuses.
•            Players and cash/cap trading.  A team may have an unlimited number of Retained Salary Transactions up to 15% of the Upper Limit in any League year
•            The amount in excess of $1M paid to a player while in the minor leagues or in Europe on an NHL contract counts against the cap (none counts against the share).   This applies only to new contracts, i.e., contracts entered into after a new CBA is in effect.
•            NHLPA cap benefit recapture proposal.
o           Applies only to new contracts, i.e., contracts entered into after a new CBA is in effect.
o           Applies to contracts of 9 years or longer
o           35 year old rule changed to provide that the cap charge taken will be as per  cap benefit recapture
•            Salary Arbitration
o           Walk away eliminated
•            Second buyout period will continue in its current form except that
o           A Club may not buy out a player who was not on its Reserve List as of the most recent Trade Deadline
o           A Club may not buy out a player who has a cap hit of less than $3 M
•            Critical dates calendar 
o           Sec. 12.3(a) election moved per NHLPA proposal
o           Free agency interview period per NHLPA proposal
•            Salary Cap and Payroll Range
o           Growth Factor, Performance Bonus Cushion, Long-Term, injury continue except for any changes already agreed to or contained in this proposal
o           +8M/-8M payroll range becomes +/- 20% of midpoint beginning in 2013/14
o           The Upper Limit may not fall below 67.25 M in any year of the agreement.  This is half way between the 11/12 Upper Limit (64.3 M) and the 12/13 UL (70.2 M). 

5)         Players’ Share

•            Our players’ share proposal is identical to yours in all material respects except for the amount of the transition payments added to the 50% share.  There are no guarantees or fixed targets, other than a requirement that, beginning with the second year of the Agreement, players’ share, expressed in dollars, may not fall below its value for the prior season.  This proposal allows us to determine players’ share regardless of the effects of the lockout and its aftermath.
•            Player share will equal 50% of HRR, plus these fixed dollar payments attributable to the first four years of the agreement:
•            2012/13          $ 182 M
•            2013/14          $ 128 M
•            2014/15          $   72 M
•            2015/16          $   11 M
•            Payment of these amounts may be deferred for one year (specific payment date to be agreed upon), with the deferral accumulating interest rate equal to the sum of the prime interest rate in effect at The J.P. Morgan Chase Bank on the next June 15, plus 1%.   Payment of these fixed dollar amounts is guaranteed by the League.
•            In years two through five of this Agreement, the players’ share in dollars may not be less than it was in the previous year.
•            Attached are charts which show this proposal against your last in the format you provided after our last proposal.
6)         Term of CBA

•            The term of the CBA will be for 5 years/seasons, and will end on September 15, 2017.

7)         Transition Rules to be negotiated

•            May cover, among other things, compliance buyouts, pro-ration of status/service and statistical criteria/thresholds based on the length of the season, movement of deadlines, and any other relevant matters.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NHL's Middle Class: Kris Versteeg, Ian White And The Things They Say

I wrote an article for CBS Sports entitled, NHL's Middle Class: Kris Versteeg, Ian White And The Things They Say. Here is an excerpt:
On Monday, Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg declared on TSN Radio that Gary Bettman and Bill Daly were “cancers” and that they have been “looting this game for far too long”.
Last Friday, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ian White called Bettman an “idiot” and said that the Commissioner had “done nothing but damage the game”.
The average American household income dropped to its lowest level since 1995 last year. According to annual data from the Census Bureau, median income fell to $50,054 in 2011. The poverty rate was at 15 percent as middle-class Americans struggled to stay above the poverty threshold of about $23,000 in annual income for a family of four.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Very Special Episode of Offside: UFC

This week we had a very special episode of Offside. Not like a very special episode of Blossom - different and not as emotional.

We interviewed Tom Wright, who heads up the UFC for Canada. Before heading up the UFC, Tom was the 11th commissioner of the CFL. Before that he was President of Adidas Canada and Spalding Canada. He is also the Chairman of Special Olympics Canada. 

In 2009, Tom authored Jim Balsillie's relocation application to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton. His first job was cutting grass at the age of 11. Hi wife’s family founded Grand & Toy, which means Tom gets a discount on paperclips. 

On May 25, 2010, the UFC announced Tom as the Director of Operations for UFC Canada.

In an interview, we cover a lot with Tom, including legalizing mixed martial arts (MMA), going mainstream with the sport, pay-per-view revenue, gate revenue, Dana White and the UFC corporate culture.

It's a good interview. This blog is not monetized so I'm telling the truth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TSN Article: Do Players Lose Contract Year On A Lost Season?

I wrote an article for TSN entitled, Do Players Lose Contract Year On A Lost Season?.

In it, I address the impact of a lost season on an NHL player's contract. Not good news for players.

Here's an excerpt of that article:
We know that NHL players don't get paid their salaries during a lockout. From the NHL's standpoint, being in a position to deprive players of income represents pretty meaningful leverage during CBA negotiations.

What represents even more leverage? Players never getting that money back - or that year.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Team 1200 Radio Clip: NHL Lockout & Where We Are

I join Steve Lloyd and Jason York on the Team 1200 to talk about the NHL lockout and where things are. We had a good discussion and hit on the key issues.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CTV News: What Does 7 Hour NHL Bargaining Session Mean

I join Sandie Rinaldo with CTV News to talk about the NHL's 7 hour meeting on November 6 with the NHLPA.

What does this meeting mean and is it cause for optimism?

Click here to watch this 3 minute clip:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

CBS Article: NHL Season on the Brink This Week?

Some are saying the NHL season could be cancelled this week. I address this claim in a column for's Eye On Hockey.

Here's an excerpt:
Writing for the New York Daily News, Pat Leonard declared today that the “NHL and its players’ union will decide this week whether to play or cancel the 2012-13 season.”
He added this: “This is not to say Friday is the deadline for a completed collective bargaining agreement; just that failure to make significant progress towards a deal by then would shut down negotiations again, probably this time for good.”
This is pretty unequivocal language. 
Is this a make or break week for the NHL? Will the season be cancelled in the coming days if the sides don’t make a deal? Is the season indeed on the brink?

Monday, November 5, 2012

CTV News: I Join Sandie Renaldo To Talk NHL Lockout

Today, I joined the venerable Sandie Rinaldo from CTV News to chat NHL lockout and a likely settlement date. Halfway through we start to laugh.

Click here to watch the clip. To recap, Sandie is venerable; I am not.



brought to you by Eric Macramalla (who has approved this contest)

Please email the completed form to me by noon on Tuesday November  6. Email forms to

There is no entry fee - the contest is free to enter. I will donate $250 to the winner's charity of choice. Results will be posted on my blog. This is all very exciting.

1. Who will win the Presidency? ___________________ (200 points)

2. Who will win the popular vote?_____________________ (200 points)

3. How many electoral votes will Obama get? _____________________ (1000 points)

4. How many electoral votes will Romney get?  _____________________     (1000 points)

(The scoring for questions 3 and 4 is as follows: if you correctly predict the number of votes, you get 1000 points. For every vote you are off, you lose 100 points.)

5. Pick who will win these states (100 points per correct answer):


Candidate Who Will Carry State


Candidate Who Will Carry State


North Carolina

New Mexico


West Virginia











New Hampshire


New York


South Carolina

South Dakota



Bonus Questions (100 points each - try and not use Al Gore's Internet to find answers):

6.        Since and including Gerald Ford, how many Presidents have been left handed: _____________________
7.        Name those left handed President:

8.        In 1860, the first year the presidential election fell on November 6th,  he was elected to office:

9.       This was President Obama’s yearly salary as President:

10.      Which President said this: “I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.”

11.     Who said this: “I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people."

12.     This Vice-presidential candidate looks like a cross between Jake Gyllenhaal and Mr. Bean:

13.      This University student asked President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney for a job on national television:

14.     This Presidential candidate became known for saying this: “let me finish":

15.      In the 1976 presidential debate, he famously stated "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe." That didn’t go over too well.

16.     He did a lot of sighing and rolling of his eyes during a Presidential debate:

17.     This Republican candidate in 2011 said “I am not going to be silenced and I am not going away”. Then in that same speech, he suspended his campaign. Who is he?:

18.      At a Vice-Presidential debate, this candidate opened with “Who am I? Why am I here?". He never got a chance to answer those questions though and people were a bit confused. His name?: