NHL Reviews NHLPA Proposal
Getty Images | Photo by The Associated Press
By Tyler J. Altemose (@TJamesAltemose)
What a difference a day makes.
Yesterday, the NHL reviewed the NHLPA’s proposal as part of the ongoing CBA negotiations. NHLPA Director Don Fehr was widely trumpeted as a cunning strategist for the way in which the “alternative view” proposal was presented.
Rather than make an attempt to tackle the July 13 proposal from the NHL head on, the NHLPA instead decided to engage in a different tactic, dodging the NHL’s proposal entirely while simultaneously presenting their own position on the “core economic issues”.
“What the players agreed to do was cut their future increases substantially and allow the owners to … address the problems that underlie the proposal that they made,” Fehr told the media.
Today, the NHL came prepared to continue discussions.
Fehr told the media today that negotiations lasted a little over an hour and included the NHL’s preliminary response to the NHLPA’s proposal as well as a clarification of the numbers. He explained that there were parts they liked and parts they did not like, which came of no surprise to him.
Mr. Bettman, however, took a much more direct tone, declaring his disappointment with the apparent incompleteness of the NHLPA’s proposal.
He explained that the owners “value the proposal and … its economics differently than the Players’ Association” and that there are a number of issues where the owners “look at the world differently”.
Fehr clarified to the media that most of the absent issues are “contractual issues” that are directly related to the economic proposals the NHLPA presented yesterday. He also stated that the NHL has been notified of several subject areas in which the PA intends to make future proposals. As far as Mr. Fehr is concerned, the league and owners have “almost everything” from them.
Mr. Bettman reminded the media that there is “a wide gap between us and not much time to go.”
The current CBA expires on September 15, one month from today. Bettman has already stated publicly that if by that date a new CBA is not agreed upon he will reinstate a lockout.
When inquired about the proverbial doomsday date, Fehr explained to the media: “There’s only one party talking about September 15. Make of that what you will.”
His comments infer an implication that the NHL is trying to use that date as a negotiating tactic.
Still, the PA remains cautious. When asked about whether the players have been advised to set money aside in preparation for a lockout, Fehr told the media that the players have been advised to do so for some time now.
“We have been advising the players to prepare for a couple of years for a worst case analysis,” Fehr told the media. “You hope for the best but you prepare for the worst. That’s true in every negotiation. It’s not specific to this one.”
It seems that the one item of discussion both parties have agreed to at this point is that there is a “gulf”, or “wide gap” between the two proposals. Fehr sharply said of the disparity, “When you start with the proposal the owners made, how can it be otherwise?”
The NHLPA went on to criticize the league for the gap. Said Mr. Fehr:
“It is, ‘Let’s move salaries back to where they were before the [2004-05] lockout started; back to the last time. … We had a 24 percent reduction last time, let’s have another one.’ That was the proposal. That’s what creates the gulf.”
With one month until an NHL lockout and with both proposals on the table, it appears as if each party took its opportunity to stand their ground. But negotiations must continue. Both parties understand that.
“We have to be prepared to sit and negotiate until we get the deal done,” Fehr told reporters.”This is not a process in which you can evolve each day or each negotiating session, or you can analyze it on the basis that it’s a sporting event that somebody won or somebody lost.”
Fehr explained to the media that these CBA negotiations are “a marathon, not a sprint.”
Bettman maintained that the “lines of communication are good” and that meetings so far have been professional, respectful, and cordial. “This is a process we’re going to continue to work on,” he told reporters.
“You have to find other approaches to come to common ground,” Fehr said. “I still would like to believe that we will.”
Fehr and Bettman aren’t set to meet again in person until next Wednesday, but the two will remain in contact via phone as Fehr attends player meetings in Chicago and Kelowna.
Stay tuned to The Hockey Guys as the CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA continue.
Credit to Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press for the tweet links. Read his full account of today’s proceedings via The Winnipeg Free Press here.