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News broke yesterday that the NHL and the NHLPA had agreed to two amnesty buyouts before the 2013-2014 season. One buyout will be allowed before the start of this season –if it happens– with the second occurring before the start of the 2013-2014 campaign. The owners appear to be dead-set against a cap higher than $60 million for 2013-2014, so multiple teams will need to use both buyouts to get to that number.
The first buyout for the Rangers will have to be Wade Redden. The new CBA will not allow teams to bury bad contracts in the AHL, so Redden’s full $6.5 million cap hit will be on the books. This one is a no-brainer. Redden, much like Scott Gomez in Montreal, will be bought out. That’s the easy one to guess.
The Rangers may need to use that second buyout to stay under that $60 million cap for 2013-2014. Of the players currently signed, the organization will not be looking to buyout either of their goaltenders, Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, or Stu Bickel. These guys are either cheap (Bickel), part of a group that the Rangers need to win (everyone else), or both (Girardi).
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This past weekend it was confirmed the NHL submitted a new proposal to the union Thursday afternoon. According to reports, the latest offer is approximately 300 pages and is the most “comprehensive proposal” the league has submitted in months.
While the NHLPA takes the time to review the proposal over the weekend, I would recommend everyone remain cautiously optimistic. I’m sure the union will craft a counter offer, since the rumored drop-dead date to start a 48 game season is January 19th. Meaning an agreement would have to be in place sometime during the 2nd week of January. In other words, the NHLPA has time to squeeze the league for a little bit more.
Below are the key highlights of the proposal and what I think are non-issues and key sticking points.
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So the NHL announced that all games through January 14 have been canceled, a move that was expected since there was no CBA in place. Ho hum.
There is apparently a drop-dead date in mid-January, and the NHL won’t play less than 48 games this year. In 1994-1995 the NHL played 48 games, with the season beginning on January 20 and ending in May.
If that is the same time frame, then a deal needs to be in place by January 10 at the absolute latest. It’s a fair assumption that there needs to be a ten day buffer between agreement on a new CBA and the start of the season. There needs to be three days for the players to get back to their teams, and another seven days for training camp.
If that drop-dead date is a true date, then we will know by mid-January if there will be a season. The next cancellation could be the last.
When the idiotic force meets the immoveable idiot.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past week, then you’ve surely noticed that there are a lot of legal terms being tossed around by both sides. These are moves that have been rumored for weeks, so the fact that they have been made is just another step in the process at this point. I still believe this is all posturing, but it’s worth going through the three main items that came up this weekend.
- NHLPA to vote on a DISCLAIMER OF INTEREST. This is a vote to “dis-band” the union. I put disband in quotes because the union itself isn’t disbanding, that is the definition of decertification (more below). A disclaimer of interest is a vote that will see the union terminate representation of the players. In essence, this is the union leaving the players, and Donald Fehr would no longer represent the players.
- Decertification is the exact opposite, it is the players voting to disband the union. This process is incredibly lengthy, unlike a disclaimer of interest.
- Why a disclaimer of interest? Just that – time. Decertification takes weeks. Disclaiming takes days. The end result is the same, and the union would be dissolved. This gives the players the right to file anti-trust lawsuits against the league.
- The NHL counter to decertification/disclaiming is exactly what transpired on Friday: They filed a lawsuit to have the lockout declared legal. It’s a response –in this case a pre-emptive response– to the NHL move to file a Disclaimer of Interest.
- The second item coming from the NHL lawsuit is a declaration that all NHL contracts become void. That means every single player becomes a free agent.
So what does all this mean?
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Connecting the dots.
I’m not one to speculate, I’m just one to use logical reasoning to come to a conclusion. Unfortunately in this post, my logical reasoning is leading to speculation, so take this with a grain of salt.
Earlier this morning, Adam Rotter at SNYRangersBlog picked up this little tidbit from the Kalpa website noting that Derek Stepan has returned to the US, stating that Stepan was confident that a season would begin soon. With Stepan’s return to the US, all –well, I believe all– Ranger roster players who were overseas have returned to the US. Rick Nash and Michael Del Zotto returned last week, and Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh have been home for a while.
While Hagelin and McDonagh returned for injury reasons last month, the returns of Nash and Del Zotto with “minor injuries that needed US medical attention” were a bit confusing. After all, Nash stayed with Davos when he bruised his shoulder earlier this year, so why wouldn’t he stay with them if this groin issue was minor as well?
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In what is now unexpected news, Darren Dreger is reporting that the NHL will cancel regular season games through 12/30. This comes as no surprise considering the events of last week.
So, what happens first: 1) The NHL season begins, 2) The fiscal cliff issue is resolved, or 3) The Islanders move to Brooklyn.
Posturing is preposterous.
I know that we promised not to cover the blow-by-blow of the lockout, but so much has happened over the past few days, it seemed necessary to at least comment on some of the news. If you missed what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m not going to re-hash it here, read the recap first.
But yesterday, it seemed that all was lost. Any progress made last night was “lost,” as the players and owners went their separate ways with no deal and renewed animosity. All this seemed to happen after a series of events that just left the fans baffled.
News spread that the owners made an offer to the players, and that the players countered based off the owners proposal. That’s good, as they are negotiating off the same principles. The hysteria began when –immediately following the NHLPA offer to the owners– Donald Fehr exclaimed to the press that they were close to a deal, and that he felt it would be done soon.
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Be optimistic or else.
If you aren’t on Twitter, then you missed a very exciting day yesterday. First, Gary Bettman held a press conference that was so short even John Tortorella blushed. After proclaiming that he was happy with the way negotiations were going, the owners and the players got back into the room to continue talking. This of course, came after a full night of intense discussions, which ended around midnight on Tuesday.
Then late yesterday afternoon, more news broke that the NHLPA had made a formal offer to the owners. Two hours later, the owners made a counter proposal. Now it’s worth noting that a counter proposal is significantly different from a rejection. This means that the owners and players have agreed to a framework, and are ironing out the details.
Negotiations –as of the writing of this post (9:30pm Wednesday)– are on going, and the play-by-play on Twitter has the owners alternating between sitting with the players and going back to the owners-only room to relay information.
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Update 9:00am: Multiple sources, including Bob McKenzie, have shot this down.
Original Post: Twitter almost broke last night when WBZ’s Steve Burton announced on TV that there was a deal to be had, and will be signed and announced either today (during the NHL/NHLPA meeting without Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr) or tomorrow:
WBZ’s Steve Burton reports that a deal to save the #nhl season could be announced tomorrow or Wednesday – @JoeGiza
Burton, who is widely known as a very reliable reporter, also noted that both sides made significant progress.
It should be noted that although Burton is very credible, Bill Daly has shot this down. That said, Burton was the one that broke the Phil Kessel cancer news many years ago. He’s not a rumor mongerer, he’s very credible.
While this may seem like false hope, this is still the best news we’ve received since September 15th. I think I’m one of the only ones left that believes we will still have some semblance of a season. However, I am losing hope, and fast.
If Burton is right, then we might see NHL hockey (some of the only hockey available on TV in the US) by Christmas. That’s the best Christmas gift for most of us, even if we refuse to spend money on this league.
Mediator? Eh. But hey, at least it’s progress.
In a move in the right direction by both sides, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to use a mediator to help end the lockout. The mediator process is relatively simple, as the mediation team will hear both sides and come to a neutral decision. This, in essence, is a lot like arbitration.
However –as we saw in 2004– mediation is not binding. The NHL or NHLPA can walk away from the mediation outcome and we would be right back where we started. So basically, there’s nothing really interesting unless both sides agree to the outcome presented by the mediation group.
Perhaps we already saw the most interesting aspect of this mediation saga.
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