Authors Posts by Kosta Papoulias

Kosta Papoulias

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Coach K is the producer of the Montreal Hockey Talk pre and post game shows, to which he is a regular contributor. His 15 years of coaching experience, along with his passion for the game, give him a unique perspective. You can follow Coach on Twitter @CoachRules

A new hope? That’s what most people thought when the NHL submitted their now infamous 50/50 proposal the the NHLPA. Was it a gesture in good faith? Well…

WHAT IF Gary Bettman intended for the sole purpose of the proposal was to bring the NHLPA out of the woodwork?

Bettman and his number two, Bill Daly had, for weeks, said that it was the union’s turn to submit their own proposal. Why not simply ask to resume talks, instead of giving the NHL fans false hope that a resolution was closer than it appeared?

And given the vagueness in the proposal, where re-numeration in full of existing player contracts was concerned, did the NHL owners actually think that Donald Fehr wouldn’t sniff that part out?  If you look at the numbers, there would be a 14% reversal in share distribution… in the owners’ favour.

With the being said,…

WHAT IF the 48 hour window given to teams, in order to communicate with players, was simply a public relations ploy?

Well, I wouldn’t put it past Bettman to pull a stunt like this. Given the majority of fans side with the players, the NHL commissioner needed to push a few of the NHLPA’s buttons. The reaction of Donald and Steven Fehr to this supposed improper labour negotiations practice was exactly what the league ordered.  And to that effect,…

WHAT IF the NHL’s imposed deadline, which has come and gone, was another way to sway public opinion in their favour?

I’m sure, given the uncertain terms outlined in the proposal, the NHL was sure that the Players’ Association would most certainly reject the proposal outright. In knowing this, they would have purposely forced the NHLPA to counter-offer, only Bettman didn’t expect three proposals to come back his way.

That, in itself, begs the question …

WHAT IF the quick, ten minute rejection of all three NHLPA proposals was due to the NHL’s unpreparedness to deal?

Between you and I, giving a deal five years to get to a percentage split that is exactly what the NHL owners want isn’t really that outlandish, is it? Furthermore, since the NHL’s proposal included no rollback, is it so bad to ask for an explanation as to how the owners would “guarantee” that players receive full payment of existing contracts?

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Here’s something else to think about. Gary Bettman’s autobiography (titled “The Instigator”) outlines his thesis at Cornell University being about the mafia. Because of this fact I ask…

WHAT IF the NHL commissioner gave the Players’ Association “an offer they couldn’t refuse?”

A preset deadline and unwillingness to waiver from the company line sounds exactly like something Don Corleone would do in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather.” Is Gary Bettman taking his negotiating tactics to that level, and does he really think that constitutes bargaining in good faith?

With today’s comments by former Canadiens’ forward Michael Cammalleri, who questioned whether the NHL commissioner was “running a professional league or the mafia”, what next? A horse’s head in Donald Fehr’s bed.

I mean really, WHAT IF?

 

 

Another week without hockey is depressing! At least we had a good time this week on Montreal Hockey Talk “Lockout Edition” Jay Farrar @JayPubRadio and J.T Utah @25stanley join Corey Collard and Nick Murdocco to discuss everything from the negotiations to Carey Price’s hot dentist… Yeah, I said hot dentist!

 

So the NHL has proposed a deal which, in principle, is more along the lines of what the NHLPA was looking for. Sure there will be a counter-proposal as well, but why now Gary?

The NHL Commissioner’s office has been clamoring for weeks now that they expected the Players’ Association to come up with the next CBA proposal.  And couldn’t this deal have been done in the summer, and avoided all these delays in the season, not to mention fan frustration?

Given the circumstances of the proposal, and it’s appearance out of left field, I may be inclined to think my piece fromtwo weeks ago (Coach K’s What If: Bettman/Owners Rift?) may be closer to being the truth than a mere hypothesis. And if so that begs the question…

WHAT IF there are some of the “Big 10” NHL owners who are fed up of Gary Bettman’s bull-headed negotiating philosophies?

Is it possible that some of the bigger fish in the NHL ownership hierarchy are no longer as sold as they were when Gary Bettman was initially hired by former Habs’ President Ronald Corey (yes, HIM!!!), disgraced former L.A. Kings owners Bruce McNall, Philadelphia Flyers’ owner Ed Snyder and Bill Wirtz, the deceased former owner of the Chicago Blackhawks?

Mr. Snyder has been identified in multiple instances as not being overly enthusiastic with Bettman’s stubborn persona.

It’s well known that Bettman is a lawyer, but he majored at Cornell University in International Labour Relations. What if the lessons taught to Mr. Bettman do not apply to labour negotiations as it pertains to North American business? When you deal on an international level, you need to have a certain amount of resolve to make sure that your particular country benefits as well as it can from labour contracts, but how can you do that in this case?

WHAT IF the “Big 10” amongst the NHL owners no longer have the power they once yielded?

Needless to say that Jeremy Jacobs, Dan Snyder and the other owners that make up the “Big 10” have controlled the league, through Gary Bettman, for the better part of the last 20 years, but  has this latest labour dispute weakened their stranglehold on the remaining smaller market owners in the NHL? While some think it’s unlikely, I’m of the opinion that these owners have not only dictated their operational terms to the players, but to the smaller market owners in the league as well. And the other 2/3 of the league’s owners won’t stand for it.

While we are on that subject, some of the small market owners in the NHL are fed up of the lack of communications between them and Gary Bettman, in regards to the CBA negotiations. This continued power struggle between the two NHL ownership factions continues may beg the question…

WHAT IF Gary Bettman were on his way out in order to maintain ownership peace in the NHL?

Again, his recent contract extension would suggest a fair bit of satisfaction from his employers, the NHL Board of Governors, but the shear fact that this type of proposal, and its timing, are so far out of left field from Bettman’s normal behaviour, I can’t help but wonder if his “Napoleon Complex” has been shattered? Just look at his body language and his tone of voice during his press conference announcing the proposal.

Does he really look like a man in control, or has he indeed been broken?

Small market owners can ill afford to lose major chunks of their revenues from ticket sales and sponsorship. Relieving Mr. Bettman of his duties as NHL commissioner may go a long way to restoring the relationship among all 30 NHL owners.

But if he is “leaving” once the CBA is resolved, who could be the most likely candidate to replace him?

The majority of the hockey world think that an individual like Wayne Gretzky, who has been the face of the NHL for the better part of three decades, would be the best candidate. Simply put, while The Great One’s grace and personality would certainly be a refreshing change, his rift with the league over outstanding payment from Phoenix, as well as his lack of administrative experience, would be a detriment to the Commissioner’s Office.

Could Bill Daly fill the position? Well, as far as mental toughness is concerned, he could certainly fit the “bill”, but I think the NHL needs a clean break from anything “Bettman-esque”, so Daly wouldn’t be a wise choice.

All things considered, I could rattle off a list until the cows come home (I live in the city, that could be a while). But I wonder,…

WHAT IF the NHL hired someone like Bill Clinton to be its next commissioner?

No, I’m not saying the league should hire the former president of the United States, but instead someone with his public popularity and experience building different international relationships. For all intensive purposes, only someone who worked at a very high political scale can really understand the complexities of different labour situations. Lawyers tend to always look at things from their client’s perspective only, and never on the grand scheme of things.

Then again, with any luck, we’ll probably end up with Commissioner Schwarzenegger.

But really, WHAT IF?

 

It’s nice to be back, and we’ve brought our good friend Jay Farrar @JayPubRadio along for the ride this time. The boys discuss the new offer on the table from the owners in the NHL and with the help of Corey, Erik, Dave, and Jay, we tell you what we think about the whole thing!

 

Starting the new season this year without hockey would have been hard, but the team at Websports Media Network Have been hard at work developing a whole bunch of new content this year. On the night that should have been the first official game for the Montreal Canadiens, we decided to introduce you to the whole team and tell you about all the new and exciting things happening at WSMN.

The team is back

Our regular cast of misfits started out the night discussing the lockout and our brand new Montreal studios.

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Week In Review

Ted Bird, Joey Elias, and David Kellerman are back with their weekly review of the NHL.

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Chris Nilan and Rick Moffat

New to the WSMN family, we talk to Rick Moffatt and Chris Nilan about their new shows.

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The Pre-Game Show

Also joining Montreal Hockey Talk this year are former NHL Player Bobby Dollas, Eric Engels of Hockey Buzz and Sirius XM, and Steve Hindle of Hockey Buzz.

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Radio Fight Center

We sit down with Gary Whittaker and Yury Kutcher to talk about our new fight channel featuring a variety of shows covering a wide range of topics surrounding MMA and boxing. Pre-fight shows, post-fight discussions, behind the scenes looks at being a fighter, gambling odds, fight promotion and more.

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Comedy and Habs Addict

Steve Traynor is here to talk about the Comedy show, and Kamal Panesar talks about the merging of Habs Addict and Montreal Hockey Talk.

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The Closeout

The final word with the new Montreal Hockey Talk Team

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Podcast Links:

 

“There will be no discussion about core economic issues” 

“As long as the players’ association refuses to submit an offer, we will continue to have an impasse.”

You know, if we go back 8 years, to the beginnings of the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, we could take quotes from both sides, swap out some choice words and phrases, and at the end of the day, it would be like the scripts from Rocky III and IV. (Yeah, Rocky wins in the end.) Both sides are predictable and without variance. There’s little originality, and a minimum amount of thought is required to come to the proper conclusion. But who is Rocky and who is Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago in these CBA negotiations? If predictability is any indication, the NHLPA is the underdog, negotiating from the weak side, and the league is the big bad villain, coming from a position of strength.

WHAT IF core economics have been negotiated in sub-committees?

It’s common practice, in any negotiations, to compartmentalize different issues, and create different teams to address them. What if, when address on Friday, Bill Daly was unaware of any progress being made, and simply denied any core economic discussion until he had been briefed? When you spend that much time playing to the masses via the media to gain favour, any “uh…I don’t know” moments would look like you didn’t really care. Not a popular position to be in with a hoard of hockey hungry fans hanging on your every word.

WHAT IF the current economic climate in the United States is the catalyst behind what is perceived to be greed by the NHL and its’ owners?

Like any business, the economics of a given time dictate what kind of growth can be expected. Unfortunately, Gary Bettman is a lawyer and not an accountant, and all he and Bill Daly do is repeat what some of the league’s high-priced bean-counters tell them to say. Really, what do you they really know about economics? When the last CBA was negotiated, the Canadian dollar went from 71.2 cents USD in September 2004 to 82.3 cents USD at the same time the next year. What if Bettman and his financial team saw the 14% increase as momentary glitch in terms of the league’s economics? He’s gone on record saying the increased value of the Canadian dollar has had no direct impact on the league’s revenues, but how can that even be remotely true with 20% of your business, which is generating the majority of your league’s revenues, is on the North Side of the 49th parallel?

WHAT IF in the second year of the CBA (2005-2006) the NHL realized that they signed a deal that was detrimental to their bottom line?

When was the last time you paid an employee more than you could make in profits? That’s effectively what the league did when the agreed to increment the players’ share of hockey related revenue by .5% for the entirety of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. And while half a percentage point does seems like much, what if the percentage increased as the US dollar dropped?  With 80% of the league’s teams in the US, the declining economic climate cost the owners more than any of them could have anticipated.

WHAT IF currency and HRR fluctuations were factored into the negotiating process?

By all accounts, they HAVE to be. If the NHL is serious about creating a climate with a reasonable amount of cost-certainty, then those 2 factors have to be accounted for. And there no way the NHLPA, in good conscience, could ignore that fact. If the union has any sense of economics, they have already identified that fact. What if those factors were the biggest reason why the PA found the NHL’s original offer ludicrous? That would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

WHAT IF the NHLPA decided to attack the salary cap, in an attempt to gain ground in the negotiations?

Last week, I asked if there was a rift between the owners and Gary Bettman. Well, any ideas about eliminating the salary cap would guarantee 2 things. First, the NHL would counter that idea with a push for non-guaranteed contracts, and second – and worst of all – it would galvanize the owners’ resolve. Not exactly 2 things the NHLPA would be hoping for. Negotiating in good faith requires sometimes requires sides to ignore the obvious, and find a middle ground that is beneficial to both sides.

WHAT IF advertising dollars needed to be shared between 2 teams in a given market?

Say, for example, the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, want to get a particular sponsor to advertise with them. Sometimes, it’s tough to differentiate between which market would be better suited for your product (like Coppertone and Speedos, but I digress.) The point is that separate contracts have to be signed. The NHL has no interest in reducing the hockey related revenue numbers by doubling up on advertising dollars, regardless of the market.

Today, the NHL and the NHLPA get together once again to show that they are trying to hash out a deal. However, is that what really happening, or have the gloves come off in the negotiating process?

Really, WHAT IF?

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