“Tattaglia is a pimp. He never could have outfought Santino. But I didn’t know until this day that it was Barzini all along.”

Every day I read that fans shouldn’t blame Bettman because Bettman works for the owners. I have no problem with that sentiment (except possibly for the words “shouldn’t” and “because”), but, to simplify matters, let’s just say that “Bettman” is not a person at all (a stretch, I know) but a synecdoche, standing for the population of owners as a whole, or — as it now appears — the cabal of owners who have formed a shadow government within the larger population.

Calling the owners “Bettman” is certainly more accurate than calling them “the NHL.”

Who or whatever is contained within “Bettman,” I keep coming back to the same (irrefutable?) logic. Either:

  • The 2005 CBA did not fix the broken system, as Bettman said it would, in which case “Bettman” is not fit to govern and should be replaced. Or:
  • “Bettman” is not telling the truth about the health of the league, and is really just lying to the players in order to steal from them, in which case “Bettman” is not fit to govern and should be replaced.
I don’t think it’s a CBA problem at all. It’s a problem with the NHL by-laws, which allow the cabal (or is it an “Op” — like “Treadstone”?) to control the league with its paltry eight votes. That’s the document that needs an amendment.

Ray Ratto: NHL labor dispute is about nothing more than Jacobs vs. Fehr | CSN Bay Area

This is not about money, or contract length, or any of the other minutiae that collective bargaining creates. It is about Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and NHLPA head Don Fehr, and it […] was […] from the start, and negotiations are not done over personalities. They are destroyed over personalities.

And for this parlous state of affairs, we can actually ask a question: Why do the moderate owners in the league never step up and say, “We want to be the ones in the room”? Why did they do what they always do – sit back and expect the hardliners to get them the best deal possible?

I don’t know, but I don’t think this thing gets settled until the moderate owners stage a coup.

[…] Owners [in baseball] had to realize that beating the union shouldn’t be the goal. Getting the deal should be the goal. And when baseball’s owners figured that out, Fehr no longer had to be the iron bar in everyone’s spokes.

Why then, you ask, did the NHLPA hire him? Because they’d been hammered in the previous deal when Bob Goodenow was their boss. He let it be about personalities, too, and the owners were only happy to oblige in kind, and with superior firepower. That cost a season, and a television contract. And that deal turned out to be bad for some owners too – not because the union crafted it so brilliantly, but because the owners circumvented it so often that it became not a contract but a footpath.

Many have noted the insanity of the owners insisting (this time around) on five year contract limits in order to prevent themselves from offering longer contracts.

There is a reason why the distribution of wealth in the NHL is so top-heavy, after all. The few teams that can make money do, and don’t really like distributing it — not to the poorest franchise who are in some cases beyond redemption, and definitely not to middle-class clubs who are trying to operate on the square and still gets their hats blocked year after year. But come CBA time, they all unite around a common theme – hating the guy who runs the NHLPA. It is the hardliners’ song of choice, and it is so now. It is interesting that talks allegedly went well when Fehr and Bettman were out of the room – although, bafflingly, Jacobs and Murray Edwards of Calgary, another fierce hardliner, were allowed to stay in. Then when the players wanted Fehr to return, owners said that could be a deal-breaker.

Keeping Bettman out but sending in Jacobs is like sitting out Tattaglia and sending Barzini instead.


  4 comments for ““Tattaglia is a pimp. He never could have outfought Santino. But I didn’t know until this day that it was Barzini all along.”

  1. Model62
    December 9, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Hey Quisp!

    I’ve been thinking about the five year term thing and the players’ insistence that it will wind up harming the “middle class” as cap dollars get sucked up by the top talent. Now, from the players’ POV, the 5 year max term is bad for other reasons, too (no long term job security, for one; moving your family hither and yon also sucks), but I can’t quite figure out the middle class claims. The salary cap should have had that effect (and maybe has in percentage terms; in actual dollar terms the middle tier saw salary growth over the last CBA).

    Any idea how the five year term might accelerate that process, as the PA suggests? My guess is that cap savings from the back-diving, cap circumventing contracts was spent on 2nd and 3rd liners. With no circumvention, actual dollars paid and cap dollars will converge (but won’t quite meet, even under the League’s proposals). Top talent will always be paid, but there will be less for the rest.

    Fom the League’s POV, this helps the small market clubs stay competitive (a worthwhile goal), but the result is a labor market in which salaries between superstars and the rest diverge. That’s not so good for low paid players, nor for union solidarity, and maybe not so good for the league long term if the KHL can grow to become a legitimate option.

    I guess a part of this is, if the NHL is structuring the CBA to protect the Coyotes and the Panthers, what can the PA do to protect Boyd Gordon and Kris Versteeg? The PA would probably never consider tightening the individual player upper limit (20% of the cap in the last CBA). But that’s one approach.

    Oh! Looking up that percentage may have yielded the answer.

    The 20% max salary figure is based on the Cap in the year the deal is signed.

    Say the cap is $40mm (as in the CBA’s example (50.6 Maximum Player Salary and Bonuses; Fixed Dollar Amount of Player Salary) and a player signs a max 10 year deal, no back diving. That’s $80mm dollars and a cap of $8mm. If the League continues to grow at last year’s pace (10%!), now that max contract is not quite max (the new max would be 44*20% = $8.8mm), and there’s another $4mm to spread around, too, to bring in solid supporting talent. Over the ten year term, that max contract will come back down to middling, too, assuming continued growth.

    Limit the term, and stars will “reset” their claims on max salaries with each renegotiation, leaving less for everybody else. And that’s why the PA insists the League’s five year contract term proposal will gut the middle class.

    • December 9, 2012 at 6:45 PM

      Yes, it has everything to do with eliminating the cap-busting tail, thus making the cap hits closer to the actual salaries, which gives teams less cap room for everyone else. It also has the effect of keeping salaries WAY down because you don’t have this huge discrepancy between payroll and cap. I’ll say more after I feed my kid.

      • December 9, 2012 at 9:52 PM

        I actually don’t know what I meant by the second part of that. Let me think.

        Well, for one thing, no one is going to pay Kovalchuk 10 million a year for five years if that’s going to be the cap hit. So in that sense, I would expect there to be a downward pressure on the biggest salaries, not just the small ones.

        • Model62
          December 10, 2012 at 8:40 AM

          Probably some downward pressure, but the superstars will get paid. The clubs can’t help themselves. Their markets demand that they have marketable stars.

          The argument the PA is making (I think) is that the money saved (or borrowed from the future) from back-diving plus the money found (via growth creating more space above the max individual player cap over time) hasn’t been spent on more cap circumventing contracts; it’s gone toward the supporting cast. Remove both mechanisms (back-diving and term) and the strong demand for marketable superstars will lead to more money going to the top and less for the rest.

          I think it’s convincing.

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