Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Everybody's losing money'

Mounting financial losses the catalyst to end NHL lockout

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ALMOST three months in the making, hockey owners, players and fans now understand the National Hockey League lockout is a fight with many, many layers.

It's about money and altruistic issues like protecting future generations of players. It's about players not wishing to be pushed around by the owners. And vice versa.

But, ultimately, the catalyst to getting a deal done will be about something much more tangible, something that is being painted bright red with each day the NHL business remains dark:

the mounting financial losses.

 

More specifically, this thing will end when either side -- or both -- reaches the threshold of losses it is willing to absorb. In fact, if the lockout was akin to a heavyweight fight, both corners must be close to tossing in the towel, what with their combatants busted and bruised and bleeding all over the ring.

The NHL cancelled another chunk of games on Monday, through to Dec. 30, bringing the total to 526 games or 42.8 per cent of the schedule.

Owners are said to be losing $18-20 million a day; the players have lost a whopping $558 million to date in salary.

If you don't think even the slightest sign the lockout might be over -- like last week's tease when NHL Players' Association boss Donald Fehr hinted a deal was close -- doesn't lead to some giddy hysteria, think again.

Case in point, we give you Colin Wilson of the Nashville Predators. The Winnipegger, now back home for the holidays, had been skating with about 25 NHLers in Minneapolis. Last week, their session ended around the same time Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were doing their duelling-press-conferences act.

"I was sitting there in the dressing room and we were all getting our flights ready to go back to camp," said Wilson. "We all thought the deal was about to be done.

"Like everybody has been saying, I went through a roller-coaster ride of emotions. I went from thinking I'm playing next week and getting ready for training camp to having to wait it out a little bit longer."

While a resumption of talks has not yet been formally announced, it is expected the two sides might get back to the bargaining table this week. Also, many noted that games were cancelled through to Dec. 30, not New Year's Eve, prompting many to speculate -- hope might be a better word -- the league is leaving Dec. 31 open as a potential return date.

But that would take the two sides kissing and making up in a hurry.

And so, in the interim, both camps will continue to bleed.

"It sucks that everybody's losing money. I'm losing money," said Wilson. "But it's for a long-term setup. The 50-50 is bad and a 14 per cent reduction (the NHL's first offer had the players' share of hockey-related revenue dropping to 43 per cent from 57) is bad, but I would have played if it wasn't for the fact I don't want to get bullied by the owners anymore.

"I want to remember this so that when the next CBA comes up we aren't bullied again. Obviously it's about the money, but it's about standing your ground because each year they're going to come back. Record revenues this year and they're telling us they're losing money, so you never know what fable they are going to tell next time."

 

-- -- --

 

The NHL cancellations announced Monday included six Winnipeg Jets games, three of those scheduled for the MTS Centre. They are:

Saturday, Dec. 15 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Monday, Dec. 17 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Thursday, Dec. 20 @ Boston Bruins

Friday, Dec. 21 @ Pittsburgh Penguins

Wednesday, Dec. 26 @ Edmonton Oilers

Saturday, Dec. 29 vs. Buffalo Sabres.

Cancelling games to Dec. 30 includes 16 Jets home games.

 

SICK BAY UPDATE: Centre Alex Burmistrov, who returned to Winnipeg last week from St. John's to have an upper-body injury examined by the Jets medical staff, will be heading back to Newfoundland this week.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

BLEEDING RED

NHL owners are losing gobs of cash with their arenas dark. Obviously, so too are the players. NHL players were to be paid in 2012-13 on a 185-day season. Through Monday they had lost 61 days or 32.9 per cent of their salaries.

Here's a breakdown of how much members of the Winnipeg Jets would have made this season and how much they have lost:

Player2012-13 salary$$$ Lost

Nik Antropov$4.75 million$1,562,750

Andrew Ladd$4.5 million$1,480,500

Olli Jokinen$4.5 million$1,480,500

Toby Enstrom$4.5 million$1,480,500

Dustin Byfuglien$4.25 million$1,398,250

Ondrej Pavelec$3.25 million$1,069,250

Evander Kane$3 million$987,000

Bryan Little$3 million$987,000

Ron Hainsey$3 million$987,000

Zach Bogosian$3 million$0*

Alex Ponikarovsky$1.8 million$592,200

Mark Stuart$1.7 million$559,300

Jim Slater$1.6 million$526,400

Kyle Wellwood$1.6 million$526,400

Antti Miettinen$1.5 million$493,500

Grant Clitsome$1.4 million$460,600

Alex Burmistrov$900,000$296,100

Chris Thorburn$850,000$279,650

Al Montoya$601,000$197,729

Paul Postma$550,000$180,950

 

NOTE: All numbers courtesy capgeek.com and based on base salary, not including signing bonuses

*Injured players like Bogosian still receive full salary

Locked-out NHLers on one-way NHL deals like Postma had to sign AHL deals in order to play in the minors.

Burmistrov's AHL salary this year is $67,500.

Antropov has played 23 games with Astana Barys of the KHL.

Ponikarovsky has played 25 games with Donbass of the KHL.

Pavelec has played 14 games with Liberec of the Czech Extraliga and six games with Lahti in Finland.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2012 C3

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