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Friday, November 30, 2007

Some postive signs from new NHLPA boss Paul Kelly

I followed the lockout of '04 about as closely as any fan not directly involved in the negotation could so when I heard that the NHLPA had fired Ted Saskin, who along with the NHL's Bill Daily, were the men primarily responsible for the CBA the NHL currently operates under, I cringed a little thinking "here we go again".


I just finished reading an article from Scott Burnside of ESPN.com regarding Paul Kelly's visit with the board of governors and actually came away from that read feeling a little better about the NHLPA's new hire. Here are some quotes:

"I actually started by telling them a little bit about my professional background, which is the fact I have spent 27 years as a trial lawyer and I have tried dozens and dozens of cases to juries and state and federal courts and that there's something invigorating about the fight," Kelly said. "Between hockey players, who are never shy to take on a fight, and a trial lawyer, who has had many, if it comes to that, I hope that my guys would be well-represented.

"That said, I really think that the way to approach this for the good of the fans, for the greater good of the sport, is to try and work through these issues. I told them expressly that it is my view that any labor interruption in this sport would be devastating, that the public, particularly in the United States, would turn away in disgust and that we owe it to the game and to the fans to work through issues and to avoid any discussions of lockouts and strikes. And I sensed a positive agreement on the part of the owners to that comment.''

On Thursday, he told the governors he hasn't had enough time to look over the collective bargaining agreement to know whether the players would exercise their right to re-open the deal after next season, the fourth of the post-lockout accord.
"We're going to wait until the end of this season and see where we are," Kelly said.

Kelly spoke to the board for about 35 minutes, and one governor asked if some of his constituents were upset at his appearance at the meeting.

"My response to that is a couple of things," Kelly said. "One, there is going to be a reservoir of players, particularly some of the senior guys, that might hold that view. But frankly, in my judgment, it's a new day. We can't continue to hold those views of this relationship. We've got to talk, we've got to communicate; we can't have this kind of cold war approach.

"That said, I did tell the players' executive board of the Players' Association that I had been extended this invitation and I will tell you that every member of the executive board unanimously endorsed and encouraged me to come down here and to meet with and address the owners. It's not an issue."

I'm relieved to hear that Kelly seems to have a good grasp on the pulse of the game, especially in the States. There is absolutely no way this league could sustain another work stoppage this close to missing an entire season - especially south of the boarder.

This new CBA seems to be working just fine for the players and as Bettman mentioned in that article league revenues are projected to rise yet again atlhough he didn't say how much. That's good news for the league, not the best of news for a market the size of Columbus however as this market just doesn't get the high dollar revenues that a bigger market produces.
It also means that some of the big market teams that spent to the cap this year will have some more room this offseason to spend even more - that particularly hurts us as we are one of the teams that will have a lot of payroll flexibility and the less teams involved in the bidding for unrestricted agents obviously the better off the Jackets will be....but I digress.

So while Kelly's words do give me a faint hint of optimism and he appears to be saying all the right things, I'll believe there will be an extended labor peace when I see it. Lets hope both the league and the players aren't foolish enough to lock horns again.
-LTL

1 comment:

Pub said...

Lets hope they dont stop work again...or like you said...it may never come back. Look how long it took baseball. Great read. Keep up the good work!!!j