Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blues, NHL issue statements on lockout

By Andrew Allsman| Posted: September 16th, 2012| Contact  |

Saturday, Sept. 15, came and passed without a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners and, as they threatened to do, the NHL locked out the players. The lockout will be in effect until a new deal is reached.

The last time the two sides sat down together to negotiate was on Wednesday when both sides presented the other with a new proposal. Neither side thought the proposal was original enough. No new talks have been scheduled, but that can change with one phone call. Before Saturday's lockout, Gary Bettman said the owners 'unanimously' supported the locking out of players if necessary.

The NHL issued the following statement on the lockout:

"Despite the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Hockey League has been, and remains, committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the Players and to the 30 NHL teams.

Thanks to the conditions fostered by seven seasons under the previous CBA, competitive balance has created arguably the most meaningful regular season in pro sports; a different team has won the Stanley Cup every year; fans and sponsors have agreed the game is at its best, and the League has generated remarkable growth and momentum. While our last CBA negotiation resulted in a seismic change in the League's economic system, and produced corresponding on-ice benefits, our current negotiation is focused on a fairer and more sustainable division of revenues with the Players -- as well as other necessary adjustments consistent with the objectives of the economic system we developed jointly with the NHL Players' Association seven years ago. Those adjustments are attainable through sensible, focused negotiation -- not through rhetoric.

This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, not on a meeting room. The League, the Clubs and the Players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans."

The Blues issued their statement on Sunday.
"As you are aware, the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association have not yet reached agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Because of this development, the opening of the Blues' training camp may be delayed and some of our games could be postponed or cancelled.

The St. Louis Blues remain hopeful that a new agreement will be reached as soon as possible and that we will be back on the ice soon. We will be in contact with our season ticket holders, suite holders, and sponsors with plans and options that will be available in the event that games are postponed or cancelled. Single game ticket buyers may keep their tickets or go to the point of purchase for a refund.

The Blues appreciate your patience and loyalty. We value your support and your passion for the Blues, and we look forward to seeing you at Scottrade Center once a new CBA is in place."
Fans took to social media sites late Saturday night to express their discontent with the way negotiations have gone, and the effect they may have on hockey. The NHL's twitter page lost over 2,000 followers as fans used the 'unfollow' button as means of protesting. The number of followers continues to decline.
Training camp for the Blues was scheduled to open September 21, but it is likely that that date will be pushed back, and if a deal is not reached soon, opening night could be in jeopardy. It is not known how many days teams will need to prepare for the first game, so there is no known deadline for getting the deal done before games are missed, however, it is speculated that NHL clubs will need at least ten days to prepare before regular-season game.
Player pictures were removed from team's websites when the lockout was imposed late Saturday in compliance with the rules of the lockout. Other stipulations include: Team practice facilities closed to players, 2012-13 salaries will not be paid to the players, and no trades are allowed during the lockout. Players can however, play in other leagues around the world. Already, some have signed contracts with other leagues to play in during the lockout. The American Hockey League will not be affected by the lockout, and their season will begin on October 12.
The Blues assigned a total of 28 players to their respective leagues on Friday, including 25 who will head to Peoria. 
Blues Captain, David Backes, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that most of his teammates will remain in St. Louis, at least for a while, working out together. If they determine it will be a long-term lockout they may look elsewhere to play.
The biggest issue currently is on how to divide hockey-related revenue. Owners would like to see the players' share drop substantially, and the players would like to keep it slightly above 50%. Under the last CBA agreement the players got 57% of the revenue.
The league's annual revenue in 2011-12 was a record-high $3.2-billion.