Now that the NHL’s latest work stoppage has ended, it’s time for the part everybody loves: Identifying the losers!
(Fine, we’ll identify some winners as well.)
For the record, we all know fans are losers in any lockout, so that kind of goes without saying for this piece. OK?
Regardless of what concessions were made to the NHLPA late in negotiations, owners managed to get a 50-50 hockey-related revenue split after receiving just 43 percent in the last CBA.
According to USA Today, that seven percent increase works out to an additional $231 million per season.
Loser: “Hard-line” Owners
Three in particular took major PR hits.
Minnesota’s Craig Leipold, another “hard-liner,” was accused of negotiating in bad faith — by his own player.
San Jose’s Logan Couture took things a step further, saying that Jacobs, Leipold and Calgary’s Murray Edwards weren’t exactly winning over players with personality and charm in meetings.
“They’re hard-line guys,” Couture said. “They don’t give you the time of day, and they barely even look at you.
“They’re there for one reason, and that’s to help their teams make money.”
Of course, it’s doubtful any of the three really care. They’re rich.
Winner: Players…after they retire
The NHLPA walked away from negotiations boasting of a shiny new pension plan.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt the pension is the centerpiece of this deal for the players,” said Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey. “That’s not the only thing. There are other things that we were able to hold onto as far as free agency age, arbitration rights.
“But as far as the centerpiece that the players are going to be able to rally around and be proud of, I would say the pension.”
Loser: Players…playing right now
Going from 57 to 50 percent on HRR was a loss. Going from unlimited to an eight-year maximum on contract length was a loss. Pragmatically, having the salary cap drop to $64.3 million in year two was a loss — that could put a major squeeze on unrestricted free agents in 2013-14.
Winner: Scot L. Beckenbaugh
An instrumental figure in helping the NFL and NFL Referees Association broker their labor deal, Beckenbaugh — Deputy Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services — was a key figure in helping the NHL and NHLPA work things out, engineering the 16-hour marathon session that eventually ended the lockout.
Beckenbaugh was hailed as for his “extraordinary contribution” by FCMS boss George H. Cohen and received high praise from a number of NHL players.
“Scot Beckenbaugh, next time I’m in NYC, dinner is on me,” Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner said on Twitter. “Thanks for helping get us back on the ice.”
Loser: Guy Serota
Winner: John Tavares
Few players enjoyed more European success than the Isles youngster. He signed on with Switzerland’s SC Bern early in the process, played a lot of games (28) racked up a ton of points (42, fourth in Swiss league scoring) and scored four points in four games en route to winning the Spengler Cup with Team Canada.
Outside of his brush with cannibalism, Tavares also managed to avoid injury. In all, a solid lockout.
Loser: Evander Kane
He signed with KHL Dinamo Minsk, only to be ripped by the head coach for being out of shape.
He left Dinamo after a 12-game stint that included one goal, zero assists, a minus-8 rating, 47 penalty minutes and a one-game suspension for a head-shot.
Upon leaving, he criticized the coaching — “you play six minutes a night and they want you to score three goals a game” — then headed back to North America, where he landed squarely in the “calling Floyd Mayweather Jr. on my money phone” picture flap.
Winner: Donald Fehr
He deftly handled public/media criticism. He maintained a calm, cool demeanor throughout the process (made even more apparent when his adversary, Gary Bettman, was visibly irate following the Dec. 6 debacle.) He fought the owners on a number of key issues and — most importantly — he got the players a better deal than most expected.
“There’s no doubt in my mind Don Fehr saved this union, saved the game,” said Florida forward George Parros. “He was a thorn in their side, I think, a bit, but what he did I think was incredible.”