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Swerving From the Cliff


The Worst Commissioner Ever has prudently decided not to entirely destroy his league.   A cancelled season would have been an utter disaster, but the short schedule is actually OK (although the lack of interconference play sucks.) Fehr seems to have done pretty well under the circumstances, including some desperately needed pension benefits.

…and, yes, Bettman should be fired anyway.

…Waldron has a useful summary.

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  • JB2

    The 48 game sched is way better – the usual hockey season is way too long.

    • Richard

      I agree its too long – a 60 game schedule would be ideal (just like a 130 game season in baseball would be ideal). But it aint gonna happen since a shorter season makes for less money for owners and players.

      But I’m a happy guy today – will soon hear “and now your reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings”

      • greylocks

        66 games. Play every team outside your division twice, and your division opponents four times.

        • Richard

          I would be for that but everybody, including players, would see less revenue.

  • wengler

    So in that article both sides cited NBA and NFL as an example of how owners are defeating players so the players have no choice but to concede.

    Don’t get any ideas Selig.

  • Leeds man

    The Worst Commissioner Ever

    Lunch-pail blue-collar hero and Rob Ford supporter Don Cherry does not concur, thus pretty much confirming your description.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The prosecution rests.

    • spencer

      What an idiot.

    • X

      David Stern is an evil genius.

  • You can’t argue with success(?):

    “The lockout was the third since Bettman became commissioner in 1993. The three lockouts together have led to the cancellation of about 2,400 regular-season games, about 10 percent of the games scheduled. That percentage is more than three times as high as any other major league in the same 20-year period.”

  • Murc

    It kind of looks like the players caved. Am I wrong?

    • efgoldman

      Maybe. Except in baseball (RIP,Marvin Miller) the players usually cave to some degree. But this deal could have been done before training camps, if there were ore smart people and fewer assholes among the owners and in the league office.

    • kcr


      Once they agreed to a salary cap in the last CBA, they were going to be playing defense. Once the NBA and NFL set the players share around 50, that was going to be the range they settled in. So, yeah, they lost some.

      They kept the same entry level system, though, keeping some control over their careers. They got a defined benefit pension plan, which is a big thing, and ensured that the salary cap does not go below last year’s number for at least two years. If the game grows over the next two years, all they lost was potential money, not actual money. And they got 300 million dollars outside the shared money to help ensure contracts signed before this CBA retain their value. They also did not have to do a salary giveback and they got some more revenue sharing, with the hope that this helps the weak sisters survive in this system.

      If they wanted to blow up two seasons, they might have been able to get out form under the salary cap, but I doubt any player was going to voluntarily do that unless the owners through away this season.

      The big problem is that this doesn’t solve the problem: some teams get crucified when revenues go up, since the salary floor goes up but their local revenues don’t match. As long as contraction or relocation are off the table, then I suspect we will be back here in 8 years.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I don’t think so. They got as good a deal as could reasonably be expected, I think.

      • L2P

        Also, it depends in what you mean by “caved.” The players “gave up” virtually nothing they weren’t willing to give up in November.

    • TT

      I don’t think it’s a question of the players caving so much as it is them giving just a little bit more ground each and every time (that goes for the NFL and NBA, too; not so much in MLB). The problem is that the owners will be back in 2021 when they’ll opt out and try to get everything else they left on the table. And players’ careers are short, they want to play and make as much as they can while they can, so naturally they have a stronger incentive to make a deal. Owners by and large have a much larger window and so can play a longer game.

    • Hanspeter

      The owners wanted a $60 million cap, but ended with $64.3. Salary variance is limited at 35% year to year (50% over max amount), not the 5% they originally wanted. They were also claiming that 5 years max contract length was a hill to die on, but ended up agreeing to 7.

      On financial aspects, the owners did come out ahead I think (but not as good as they had originally wanted – albeit with a first offer that was beyond ridiculous). But on contract aspects, it seems to be more of a wash.

      I think a big aspect not yet really agreed on (that I’ve seen) is how hockey related revenue is calculated, and whether the players get any teeth in making sure that teams accurately report it.

  • efgoldman

    I’m hearing from “experts” that either:
    The NHL is doomed, the fans won’t come back, and the networks can’t stand the uncertainty, or….
    Hockey fans love their sport so much, and they’re all sheeple, they’ll be back as soon as the games start again.
    I heard both today on one sports network.
    But the part about Bettman being the only sports commissioner who view his job as to destroy the sport? I think that’s pretty much true.

  • cpinva

    my first reaction: what?

    and then i realized, oh yeah, the NHL, i vaguely remember them. full disclosure: i am not now, nor have i ever been, a big hockey fan. being mostly raised in the south, before they expanded down here, and long before they were on tv down here, it wasn’t a sport the natives cared about, played or were fans of.

    since the capitals, i have payed attention, sort of. what i’ve noticed is that the owner’s seem bound and determined to commit group suicide. maybe it’s the ice, affecting their thought process. maybe, they just aren’t, as a group, the brightest bulbs in the box. don’t know, don’t care, and i’m guessing most of their fans don’t either. we’ll see if the league can survive it’s own stupidity & greed.

  • Tybalt

    Huge hockey fan all my life. Been a Canadiens diehard for the last 35 years. I have bought my last NHL ticket, and I won’t watch until Bettman is gone at least.

    • efgoldman

      Huge hockey fan all my life. Been a Canadiens diehard for the last 35 years. I have bought my last NHL ticket, and I won’t watch until Bettman is gone at least.

      The owners are laughing at you – and all the callers on sports talk radio that say the same thing.
      Hockey fans came back the last two times, and they will again.
      All those casual fans who got caught up in terrific playoffs on NBC networks last spring? Not so much, I think. NBC might not be so generous in the nxt contract.

  • I don’t give a shit about hockey (sorry bro) but this is one of my top five Stones songs of all times. (Starts counting on nervous fingers, like some kind of conceptual Altamont Sophie’s Choice is about to happen up here in my bed of sickness.) OK, mos def top 10. At 3:04 when Charlie Watts…I don’t know how to describe this exactly right, like, brings the hi-hat cymbal in on all four of the latter beats of the measure: damn. “Had to find my way to heaven, ’cause I did my time in hell/wasn’t looking too good but I was feeling real well.” Aw, Keef! Like in Cerebus before he got too crazier! Makes a girl want to run out and buy some heroin. I don’t think a song this good deserves to be drug into this asshole commissioner’s dickface maneuvers, frankly. This Bettman guy can drink a mug of steaming hot dicks, sounds like, and what the fuck did Keith Richards ever do to you? Put, like, a Foreigner song or some shit up there.

    • Scott Lemieux

      1)Watts is just incredible on all of Some Girls. And…well, when isn’t he, but somehow it especially sticks out for me on this and “Respectable” and “When the Whip Comes Down.”

      2)It the idea is to put up music that reflects Bettman, we’d need something that’s both bland and evil. Matchbox 20? Lenny Kravitz? Only I can’t do that to our long-suffering readers.

      • OK, this is a reasonable objection. I was going to go on a sort of strike, and stay awake eating powerful prescription drugs until you conceded, but I am persuaded. My only further demand is that you pretend to care about the NFL and illustrate it with the song “Worried About You.” Alternatively it could illustrate concern trolling of some kind, one imagines. I leave it to you. If possible, highlight the section of the guitar solo starting at 3:15. Thanks in advance for yielding to my irrational, obligation-free demands about your blog.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Well, as a compromise, if the Seahawks make it to the conference finals I promise to use “Tops.” Mick Taylor forever! And any posts about Marty Peretz will use “Hang Fire.”

  • A bad Foreigner song. There’s two good-ish ones, maybe? But I don’t feel like checking. Perhaps an apposite song by Chicago or Phil Collins-era Genesis or Puff Daddy could be found?

    • Leeds man

      25 or 6 to 4. It was early in the morning anyway.

  • greylocks

    I predict Bettman won’t be fired, but if he is, he will be replaced by a replicant from whatever secret factory that clones sports commissioners.

    Seriously. Name one major sports league with a commissioner who has any admirable qualities whatsoever.

    • Green Caboose

      Fay Vincent was pretty good. Ups and downs, yes, but anyone who bans Steinbrenner for life, fixes geographic problems in division alignments, and avoids game cancellations in a lockout deserves credit.

      Oh, you mean current commissioners.

      Nope, all the current ones seem to use Peter “Money, That’s What I Want” Uberroth as their model.

    • Richard

      Why would there be any thought about firing Bettman? He works for the owners and they got a lot of what they wanted (particularly a ten year deal which gives everybody stability). I think the owner’s initial demands were ridiculous and there was no reason we should have lost half a season but he did what the owners wanted.

      And I’m a hockey fan who will be buying tickets as soon as the schedules come out.

  • psh

    Dammit, Scott. With the NHL season imminent, I am getting sentimental about you and Berube and your hockey blogging/hogging. A good NHL season to you, and I wish Mr. Berube would get back to blogging some day.

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