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?: