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Jan 16, 2013 12:11am
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Its Day 57 of the NHL lockout, do you know where your CBA is? Maybe well find
out more today, with the NHL and NHL Players Association apparently set to
resume bargaining this afternoon in New York. Wholesale Super Bowl
. The mere fact that theyre back at the table so soon after
Friday nights breakup brouhaha perhaps speaks to the realization on both sides
that they cant allow this thing to go into a deep freeze, that as polarized as
they seem at times, they obviously still feel the need to keep grinding away. If
either side were looking for an excuse to go all dark side of the moon, Friday
would have provided it. Its fair to say the NHL was angry, frustrated and
disillusioned that its new and improved Make Whole provision was, more or less,
summarily dismissed by the NHLPA. And the NHLPA reacted angrily to veiled
suggestions from the NHL that NHLPA executive director Don Fehr hasnt been
entirely forthcoming with certain details of the NHL offer, specifically on Make
Whole. Its really hard to know where we are in the process right now and how
they can push this peanut forward. On Friday, the two sides couldnt even agree
how close or far we are from the kind of traction that could lead to a deal and
the resumption of NHL games as soon as early December.  Fehr said on Friday
night theyre much closer on the structure of a deal. The NHL vehemently
disagreed and doesnt see it as close at all. Of course, in a memo to the players
that was sent on Thursday night, Fehr told them “there is still a lot of work to
be done and bridges to be crossed before an agreement can be made” so make of
that what you will. Ditto for the emotional outbursts after Fehrs communication
skills were questioned. On that one, the media was hand-delivered a hot-button
issue that didnt require math skills to break down. It was one of those CBA
firestorms that erupted quickly on Twitter and generated far more heat than
light on a day when the focus probably should have been more on what each side
was actually offering to try to end the lockout. My guess is the NHLs effort to
discredit Fehrs communication skills was equal parts frustration and
tactical. There is no question the NHL has grown increasingly exasperated by
Fehr, who takes passive aggressive to an art form. There is a notion within
league headquarters that he has no interest in making a deal, that hes looking
for this dispute to go nuclear so he can either challenge the NHLs entire salary
cap system in a protracted battle that would likely carry over to next season or
fight the owners for as long as it takes to, as Fehr is wont to say, break the
cycle of owners putting a gun to players heads in chronic takeaway
negotiations. The NHLPA response to that line of thinking is as long as the
league continues to demand the players immediately take a much smaller share of
revenue (from 57 per cent to 50 per cent) and surrender a variety of system and
contracting rights, theres no logical reason to agree to a CBA that gives the
players nothing in return for their many concessions, that the owners are making
it far too easy for Fehr to just say no in every language the players
speak. Tactically, though, because negotiations arent getting traction, theres
probably a feeling within the NHL that theres nothing to lose by going after
Fehr a bit, that while the attack will unify many players—see the predictable
Twitter campaign theyre now waging—it may also cause some others to want to
know the precise details of what Fehr dismissively referred to as the NHLs
“so-called Make Whole” provision. And lets be honest. The players have regularly
demonized NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in public. The longer this dispute goes
on, the more likely it is that Fehr will find himself in the crosshairs, too. It
goes with the territory and, truth be told, as much emotion as it generated on
Friday night, its just more white noise, a sideshow to the main event of actual
negotiating.  This entire negotiation has been a complex mess from the get-go
but with each passing day it only gets messier and that much more difficult to
strike a deal. In the heady days of mid-September, any time we broke down one
sides proposal or the other, we were dealing with what we believed to be
relatively solid projections. The NHL and NHLPA couldnt agree then on what the
growth factor should be—the NHL went with 5 per cent; the NHLPA with 7 per
cent—but there was a common sense that the industry was in growth mode and
that was the single biggest ally to getting a deal done. But now, 57 days in,
knowing the 82-game schedule wont be played, knowing the Winter Classic is gone,
knowing there are a lot of angry consumers who will show their displeasure by
not consuming the NHL product at the same rate or at all whenever it resumes,
well, that growth is suddenly a far greater variable that cant necessarily be
counted upon. Id go so far as to suggest that if the NHLs revised Make Whole
provision had been presented to the players a month ago, maybe even a couple of
weeks ago, we would indeed be a lot closer to a deal. Heres why: Once you get
past the notion that come hell or high water, and the folks on the Eastern
seaboard have seen both of late, the NHL is going to reduce the players share
from 57 to 50, its been a matter of how to do it without inflicting too much
financial pain and suffering on the players, giving them as close to 100 per
cent value on their existing contracts as possible. Enter the NHLs “Make Whole”
provision, a mechanism that is supposed to pay back the players the lost wages
resulting from an immediate drop from 57 to 50. In mid-October, when it was
first proposed by the league (the precise details are a matter of public record
in the NHLs formal offer that was posted on www.nhl.com), it was immediately
written off by the players because it was to be fully funded by their own future
share of Hockey Related Revenue and the deferred payback was stretched out over
too many years. But in the past week, the NHL revised it to fully fund Make
Whole with owners money and all monies would be paid back by the second and
third years of the deal with two per cent interest (though Fehr described the
interest as “tiny”). The new NHL proposal on Make Whole would give the players
$149 million in one year and $62 million in another year. That wouldnt
necessarily make up every dollar thats lost by going from 57 to 50, but it would
create a two-year transition period to significantly soften the blow before
getting to a hard 50-50. Now, I realize no ones appetite for crunching numbers
is very hearty these days, but it still has to be done. Consider the
following: Last seasons revenue of $3.303 billion with a growth factor of 5 per
cent means the total projected Hockey Related Revenue for a full 2012-13 season
would be $3.468 billion. The players share of that at 50-50 is about $1.734B.
But the players have been insistent on not taking a dollar less the $1.883B they
took home in salaries last season. That leaves a shortfall of $149 million,
which is the amount the NHL is prepared to pay back to the players as part of
“Make Whole.” Even though this $149 million has been defined as “outside the
system” or not part of the HRR breakdown, the truth is the owners still have to
pay it out of their own pockets, so its ultimately coming out of their share one
way or another. Recognizing the $149 million is deferred by one year, if you
were to include it as part of the $1.883 billion the players are guaranteed, the
amended players share in Year 1 of a new CBA would be the equivalent of about
54.3 per cent (1.883/3.468). In Year 2 of a new CBA, with another 5 per cent
factored in for growth, 100 per cent of HRR would be $3.641B. Fifty per cent of
that (the players share) is $1.82B but the NHL would top that up by $62 million
to ensure the $1.883B they earned last season remains intact. This time, again
realizing the $62 million is deferred for another year, the amended players
share in Year 2 of a new CBA would the equivalent of about 51.7 per cent
(1.883/3.641). All the propaganda aside, and recognizing there are other
important issues besides cracking the how-to-share-HRR nut, I daresay that if
the players were on Oct. 16 offered the chance to play an 82-game schedule,
including the Winter Classic, with a deal that effectively gives them what
amounts to 54.3 per cent in the first year, 51.7 per cent in the second year and
then 50-50 after that, many would either take it or think long and hard about
taking it. But the NHL didnt make that offer on Oct. 16 and now the landscape
has changed. We cant possibly play 82 games, theres no Winter Classic, theres no
reasonable expectation of 5 per cent growth and all the financial modeling we
did in August, September and early October is pretty much out the window. The
two sides still have to negotiate as though its all still in play because theyre
doing a long-term deal but it seems to me weve gone from difficult transition to
next-to-impossible transition. And heres the rub. Its only going to get worse.
With each passing day, the number of games we can play in a saved season goes
down. The longer the lockout goes, the more bitter and angry the consumers are
getting, arguably less likely to consume the NHL product at the same rate as
before. Thats why the NHL was apoplectic when Fehrs memo to the players on
Thursday not only didnt include the details of revised Make Whole but was mostly
dismissive of it as a tool to end the lockout. The league thought that if
anything was going to break this labor logjam, it would be paying the players
(as a group) no less than they received last season. Theres a tendency to
suggest this latest offer from the NHL will be as good as the players will get,
but some said that on Oct. 16 and the players got a better offer this week than
then, so whos to know for sure. Its a delicate high-wire act, no question. Maybe
saying no now will result in a better offer from the NHL in a few weeks or maybe
this one is as good as itll get and not taking it will allow the hawks amongst
NHL owners to grab the steering wheel and head for the abyss. But if theres a
so-called “better offer” to be had, it has to be weighed against playing even
fewer games this season and even more lockout-related damage to HRR. Fehr is
fond of saying, what possible reason would the players take whats on the table
from the NHL. Less money, less contract rights, whats in it for the players? On
one level, thats accurate, but on another the answer to what the players would
get from this deal is simple: Paid. They might not get 100 per cent of what they
believe theyre entitled to, but if they keep going down this road, theyre headed
for 100 per cent of nothing. For many players, theyve already decided to screw
the math and take a stand on principle. For others, though, theyll be doing a
calculation of the true cost to them and not what they would lose if they take a
deal they dont like but what theyll get—nothing—if they dont make some
sort of an agreement. The funny thing is you could, sort of, make a numerical
case that the two sides really arent that far apart. I mean, the NHL (albeit
with the inclusion of short-term deferrals of Make Whole) are prepared to give
the players $1.883B in Year 1 of the deal. The NHLPAs latest proposal to the
league was to take last seasons $1.883B and step it up annually with a
compounding rate of 1.75 per cent. In other words, in Year 1 of the players
proposal, the players are seeking a guarantee of $1.916B or about $33 million
more than what the league is prepared to pay. Think about it for a moment: In a
billion dollar business, the two sides “appear” to be just $33 million apart in
their expectations for Year 1 of a new CBA. But thats fools gold. The league
estimates, under the NHLPAs latest proposal, the players could be getting as
much as 60 to 65 per cent of HRR in a lockout-damaged season. Fehr would only
say they want to put an overall deal structure in place before negotiating how
to get around a shortened and/or lockout-damaged season. So, in some ways, were
no further ahead at all. The two sides still seem to be stuck on the same
philosophical divide. The players proposal focuses not only on protection of the
$1.883B they received last year, but guaranteed annual increases regardless of
revenue growth or decline. The owners proposal is intent on getting the player
share down from 57 to 50 and while Make Whole will ease the financial strain on
the players, it wont eliminate it. In the meantime, the clock is ticking away
and so are the number of games we can play this season and the HRR that might
ultimately turn a tough year of two of transition into three or four difficult
years. Finally, a quick word on the system issues and contracting rights. Both
the NHL and NHLPA believe these are critical issues and, to a point, they
absolutely are. But only to a point and with a couple of exceptions, there
shouldnt be a hill there thats worth dying on for either side. The NHLs two most
critical system issues are eliminating long-term, back-diving contracts and
taking leverage away from players coming out of entry level who got inflated
second contracts. Back-diving is a huge issue for the league—a legitimate
one, too—but using the 5 per cent variance provision it proposed (year to
year salary fluctuations on a contract cant be more or less than 5 per cent)
would instantly correct that situation and not cause the players real hardship.
There is, however, no desperate need for the league to have a term limit of five
years if the 5 per cent variance rule is in place.  As for second contracts, the
NHL proposed a potent combo of reducing the entry level phase to two years
(instead of three) and delaying salary arbitration and unrestricted free agency
by one year in each circumstance. That would unquestionably make it difficult
for a player coming out of entry level to hit a home run on his second contract
(Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle et al). But in a
salary cap system, when theres a defined benefit of 50 per cent, these measures
arent likely to actually take money away from the players as much as they would
simply re-allocate it. One thing the players can always count on, the owners
will spend as much as they can, its really just a matter of who gets it. Of
course, that cuts both ways. The players could say the NHL shouldnt worry about
how the dollars are allocated. But the war against second contracts is one the
general managers have asked for because it would assist them, within the salary
cap system, in building their teams. Besides, truth be told, some veteran NHL
players wouldnt be opposed to the youngsters having to wait to the third
contract to hit their home run. The obvious compromise on systems would be to
include the 5 per cent variance rule, get rid of the proposed 5 year term limit,
include a shorter period for entry level and a longer period to get to salary
arbitration, but maintain status quo on unrestricted free agency. The NHL
shouldnt expect to get every single thing it wants on system issues but its
foolish to think the NHLPA would reject system alterations across the board. Im
not saying these issues are unimportant, but in the big picture, both sides need
to get a grip. If the NHL and NHLPA can crack the core economic issue of how to
share the HRR, and how to specifically deal with this lockout-damaged season,
those are the biggest hurdles and we should be on our way. If either side thinks
maintaining lockout mode is worth a system issue that is more about reallocating
dollars as opposed to taking them away from one side or the other, well, then
they both deserve to die the slow, painful death this industry is headed towards
if they dont figure it out real soon. Wholesale NFL Jerseys Free Shipping . —When
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Curtis Granderson contributed a two-run home run, and Miguel Cabrera added a
solo shot for the Tigers, who have won two straight on the heels of a four- game
losing streak. “Im just trying to get good pitches and get good swings on them,”
said Thames. Wholesale Super Bowl XLVII Jerseys .
Baltimore scored two runs in the 10th and Johnson atoned for his first blown
save of the season by putting Boston down in order to end a wild 8-6 win for the
Orioles over the Red Sox. Wholesale NFL Super Bowl Jerseys . The
22-year-old Urso was pronounced dead in August at Grant Medical Center after
collapsing at a downtown Columbus bar and restaurant. Franklin County Coroner
Jan Gorniak said Friday that Urso died of arrhythmogenic right ventricular
cardiomyopathy. LOS ANGELES —Luis Cruz and the Los Angeles Dodgers are showing
the kind of spunk and tenacity that hasnt been seen around Chavez Ravine for
quite a while, and now the playoffs arent such a far-fetched possibility after
all. Far from it. Cruz came up with his second clutch hit in two nights, a tying
two-out RBI double in the ninth inning, and pinch-hitter Juan Rivera followed
with a run-scoring single to lift the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the St.
Louis Cardinals on Saturday night. The Dodgers third victory in 10 games tied
them with the Cardinals for the second wild card spot with 16 remaining for both
clubs. The Cardinals lost despite a homer and three RBIs by Allen Craig. “This
was pretty big. It was definitely one of our most exciting games of the season
so far,” centre fielder Matt Kemp said. “Cruz has definitely been amazing for
us. Hes been hitting the ball, getting those big hits for us and doing what it
takes to win. That was an all-around good team win for us.” After this four-game
series concludes on Sunday, the Cards will play their next nine games against
the Astros and Cubs—who are a combined 83 games under .500 and 69 1-2 games
out of first place in the NL Central. The defending World Series champions put
themselves into this precarious position by losing 13 of their last 28 games.
“We invest ourselves a lot in every game, but obviously this one stings more
than others,” Craig said. “Its a tough loss, but putting your head down and
being overly concerned about it isnt going to get us anywhere. So weve just got
to play better and stay positive. Were still in a good spot.” Jason Motte (4-5)
came in trying to protect a 3-2 lead for Jaime Garcia and retired his first two
batters. But Andre Ethier kept the Dodgers alive with a single and pinch-runner
Dee Gordon stole second before Cruz drove him in with a drive that centre
fielder Jon Jay barely missed on a diving attempt in front of the warning track.
Rivera batted for A.J. Ellis and lined a single off the tip of second baseman
Daniel Descalsos glove, enabling pinch-runner Elian Herrera to score the winning
run. Descalso started the game at shortstop and committed two errors, one of
which led to an unearned run in the first inning. On Friday night, Cruz helped
beat the Cardinals 8-5 with a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth against
Mujica. “Its unbelievable. Its like a dream for me,” Cruz said. “Im just trying
to go out there and give a hundred per cent and play hard every time. Im having
the chance to come through in big situations. Im not going to say Im lucky, but
Ive been really concentrating and having good at-bats.” Ronald Belisario (6-1)
pitched 1 1-3 innings for the victory. Kemp helped make it possible in the top
of the ninth. He crashed into the fence trying to catch Yadier Molinas drive
over his head, but recovered in time and kept him from stretching his hit into a
triple with a brilliant somersaulting throw too Cruz. Wholesale
. “When Molina hit the ball, I didnt know hard he hit it,
but it just kept carrying,” Kemp said. “I thought I might have had a play at the
wall and banged into it, but I wanted to get the ball, pick it up and try to
make a good throw. It turned out to be a pretty good one. That was a big out.”
Kemp, whose swing hasnt been the same since he crashed into the fence at Coors
Field on consecutive days (Aug. 27-28), was 0 for 4 and struck out three times
in a game for the fifth time this season. He is 5 for 48 with a homer and two
RBIs in his last 12 games since the Dodgers left Denver, but he is still playing
with the same reckless abandon as before he got hurt. “For me, its all about
winning,” he said. “I mean, you try not to do stupid things like crashing into
fences. But when Im out there, man, Im just trying to make a play and make
things happen. I crashed into the wall, but it didnt faze me.” Dodgers starter
Joe Blanton gave up three runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings and struck out
six. A disputed call on a bang-bang play at first base enabled St. Louis to snap
a 2-all tie in the sixth. Garcia drew a leadoff walk, ending a string of 13
consecutive batters retired by Blanton, and Jay followed with a single. One out
later, Matt Holliday hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop
Hanley Ramirez and just beat the relay to first from second baseman Mark Ellis.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went out to argue with umpire Dana DeMuth, and
shortly after he returned to the dugout, Craig lined a single to left on an 0-2
pitch to drive in Garcia and chase Blanton. Blanton, who has surrendered an
NL-worst 29 home runs, gave up Craigs 21st of the season in the first inning
after a two-out single by Matt Holliday. “Blanton did a really good job of
throwing all of his pitches for strikes,” Craig said. “He got his fastball on
the inside corner and had good command. He didnt make too many mistakes.” The
Dodgers got one of the runs back in the bottom half when Shane Victorino reached
on a throwing error by Descalso, stole second and scored on a two-out single by
Adrian Gonzalez. Mark Ellis tied it in the third with a leadoff homer into the
lower seats in the left field corner on a full count. Before the game, the
Dodgers announced that reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw would
not make his scheduled start in Sundays series finale because of inflammation in
his right hip. NOTES: Cardinals RF Carlos Beltran did not start because of
tightness in his lower back. ... Blanton has a career record of 6-13 with nine
no-decisions when allowing a home run in the first inning. ... The gametime
temperature was 95 degrees, one more than Friday night. ... Craig, batting an
NL-best .393 with runners in scoring position, missed the first month of the
season on the disabled list while recovering from a fractured right knee cap and
sat out another 14 games in May with a left hamstring strain. ’ ’ ’ 

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