The National Hockey League is fighting a few battles on a few fronts. Not even the most impressive armies ever seen have been able to fight on three fronts, yet that’s the challenge facing the NHL. While players have traditionally not had a great position in negotiations, this time, they’re in control of the NHL return to play.
And it’s not a great look for business owners to ask players for even more money.
The three battles are the owners vs. the players, the owners who want to play vs. the owners ready to scrap the season, and all parties vs. the insidious coronavirus.
I’ve appeared on 93-7 the Fan a couple of times in the last few days because the National Hockey Now family is on top of the situation like few others. A few sources familiar with the situation have vented to us.
There is rancor, resentment, and some who would like to give up. If you haven’t, check out the latest “Off the Record” column for PHN+ members. A few folks on the inside let off some steam, and the column by Jimmy Murphy contained heaps of insight.
“Obviously, (the players) know the owners got them again, and they will look like greedy assholes if they hold out, but this does not bode well for the future,” said a prominent agent.
For those just catching up, the NHL Return to Play in June included a new five-year CBA agreement. In that agreement, players agreed to a massive 20% escrow for this season and declining escrow withholdings until the final year of the agreement, in which the hated escrow payments declined to just 6%.
However, as part of the “new” NHL Return to Play discussions, owners want to re-open the new CBA agreement to increase escrow payments in the final years of the agreement, AND owners want players to accept a 13-16% salary deferral this season.
The owners’ ask would mean players receive only about 40% of their salaries.
Don’t succumb to the “players should be happy because they get paid to play a game” nonsense. With lasting physical effects, the extreme work required, and their careers’ finite lengths, the players earn their money. There are 500 people on the planet able to play the game at that level, and they create billions of dollars of revenue.
You wouldn’t be too happy if you worked year-round but received a 60% reduction in money; if you created billions of dollars in revenue but carried the losses for people who are otherwise worth hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.
Owners will recoup the losses now and when they sell the franchise at an exorbitant profit. Not even the Arizona Coyotes or Florida Panthers have decreased in value.
And so the players are right to be angry. They forewent their last paychecks last season and sacrificed big money to make the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs work, left their families for months, and agreed to significant salary givebacks.
In theory, the escrow money could be returned to the players, but it has never worked that way. At best, the players received pennies on the dollar after the escrow is redistributed to achieve the 50/50 hockey revenue distribution between players and owners.
In a town like Las Vegas where the service industry is so important, it’s always surprising to hear so many people side reflexively with owners, regardless of the situation. Imagine bartenders, waitresses or casino workers’ salaries fluctuating based on how well the company performed.
Players and owners agreed to a CBA just a few months ago, during the pandemic, which no one expected to be solved by October. If the owners made a bad deal, that’s on them.
But, the owners didn’t make a bad deal. It’s just going to be a little while longer before the owners recoup their losses from the 2019-20 season. For the players, they’ll never recoup their losses.
And that’s why, this time, the NHL players are 100% right.
Golden Knights Training Camp Day 2 In The Books
Yesterday was a very exciting day as the Vegas Golden Knights took to the ice for the first time in training camp. Day Two wasn’t nearly as exciting, but necessary as things moved forward. Here are a few key takeaways from today’s action.
As of now, Nick Holden remains on what I’ll pencil in as the 7/8 pair with Dylan Coghlan. As I said yesterday don’t read too far into things because the Golden Knights are going to need eight solid D to make this season work. For the time being, it looks like Zach Whitecloud and Nicolas Hague are going to get a chance to show what they can do as a unit. Alex Pietrangelo remained with Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore with Alec Martinez.
Today was more of a jumble of lines as some guys get a look playing up. Among them was Tomas Jurco who took the place of Max Pacioretty with Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone. Jurco is a guy I love for the VGK because this season because he’s a vet who can slide into the lineup on a moment’s notice and play a variety of roles. Definitely a taxi squad guy who makes you feel better about your depth.
Also, Stephenson is still centering this line. I know many of you wonder if Cody Glass is going to get his shot at the 2C but not yet. Stephenson did look good today, generating a scoring chance off a stretch pass up the middle and showing some speed. He’s skating with confidence early in camp, and I would not be surprised to see him exactly where he is now come opening night.
Finally, it was nice to see Jonathan Marchessault score for the second straight day. If he warms those goal-scoring hands up early, it could be a tremendous campaign for him.
Keep your browser pointed here for more camp coverage!
Tom’s Daily: Handicapping the West Division; Stepan to Sens
Tom’s Daily: Looking at the West Division; Vegas Golden Knights prospect Brandon Kruseand his unusual senior season; Stepan sent to the Sens; VGK fans have a new streaming option this season.
The West Division should be a fun, competitive division this year. At least in the top half. Here’s NHL.com’s look at how things might shake out. (NHL.com)
Brandon Kruse is working his way through an unusual senior season at Bowling Green. The Golden Knights prospect is projeting better than a point-per-game so far on the ice. (NHL.com)
Derek Stepan was shipped to the Ottawa Senators from the Arizona Coyotes, giving the Sens more center depth and eating up a chunk of that free cap space they had. (Sportsnet)
Ilya Kovalchuk won’t be playing in the NHL this year. Or next year. (NHL.com)
Michael Del Zotto signs a pro tryout contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Expect a lot of fringe NHL guys who don’t have deals to be competing for jobs this year. (Sportsnet)
Five questions facing the Florida Panthers heading into training camp. This team could be really good. It could also not. (FloridaHockeyNow)
According to Larry Brooks from the New York Post, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the only major league sports team to receive a paycheck protection loan totaling $4.82M. (New York Post)
Longtime NHL player and executive Dave Poulin is writing for the Toronto Star. Here’s his debut piece. (Toronto Star)
Tom’s Daily: New VGK Schedule; Pacioretty, Lehner Busts?; NHL Breaking News
Tom’s Daily: Breaking NHL news! Plus the Vegas Golden Knights have a schedule and we break it down for you; Bolts find cap relief but it’s not good; more
Vegas Golden Knights
Just in case you missed it, the NHL schedule dropped yesterday and we broke it down for you here. (VHN)
Here’s the team/league release on the schedule as well. (NHL.com)
Breaking News: It looks like the NHL has permission to move forward in Canadian cities. That’s a major sigh of relief. (Sportsnet)
Whew! Gritty has been cleared to return to NHL games this season. (The Hill)
Nikita Kucherov is going to miss the regular season due to hip surgery. While the Lightning certainly don’t want to be without one of the best players in today’s game, it certainly helps their situation with his $9.5M cap hit moved to LTIR. (Tampa Bay Times)
Ryan Miller is back with the Anaheim Ducks on a one-year deal and I love it. I hope Miller, one of the nicest guys in the game, gets to his milestone of 400 wins. It won’t happen this season unless something goes crazy sideways, but he needs 13 more to do it. (ESPN)
The Arizona State University men’s hockey team decided to start the season with a monster 36-day road trip. My personal longest road trip was 18 days and that was a nightmare. I can’t imagine double that. As it turns out, the team wanted it this way. (ESPN)
Are you all fans of fantasy hockey content? I can post more of that type of stuff if you are, let me know in the comments. For now, I’m putting this in here because of Max Pacioretty’s featured status as a fantasy “bust” for this season. Oh, and add Robin Lehner too. Not sure I agree, but here you go. (CBS)