At the beginning of the year. NHLPA director Fehr went on Sirius radio to offer the hockey fans a little reassurance that the odds of another work stoppage would be very low. He discussed his personal discussions with NHL chairman Bettman and how things were shaping up for the league.
“Obviously, Gary (Bettman) and I have talked about this — not at great length, but on a number of occasions. And if we start say a month or so after the All-Star Game or a little bit before that, we’ll still have nearly half a year before the agreement expires to try to reach an agreement.What we’re in the process of doing on our end is making sure that we’ve got all the facts together that we need, that we’ve communicated to the players, that if we need further information from the league that we ask for it over the next several weeks. Then digest it, and be in a position to both evaluate the current agreements and make proposals on our own and to respond to the owners proposals.”
Sounds optimistic right? It did to me. As the year has progressed, everyone offered their opinion on the lockout. The NHL doesn’t want one. The players don’t desire one. The fan base refuses to accept one. As the initial rounds of discussion began in New York and then Toronto, I think we all had a moment to contemplate that it looked like everything was on track for a new CBA. The league has made its first collective bargaining offer to the Players’ Association. It includes massive changes to the league’s current CBA.
According to multiple media outlets, the offer asked the union to give up twenty percent of their revenues, from their current fifty-seven percent to forty-six percent .The league’s offer also limited contract lengths to five years, while forcing players to accrue TEN seasons — regardless of age — before becoming an unrestricted free agent, the reports said.
Well, I may not have the knowledge of my hockey guru, but I know indentured servitude when I see it. On some level, I know this is the NHL owners offering their wish list to Santa. Problem is when they make this kind of wish, you half expected to have the players not leave milk and cookies. With that initial offer, you have expect the players to stuff a landmine in the chimney.
The NHL & NHLPA have met several times since the season ended in June. Sessions in New York and Toronto seemed cordial. NHLPA director Donald Fehr told the Toronto Star after a negotiating session that the sides have exchanged their stated positions. Those positions covered revenue sharing, team salary floors, free agency, and conference alignment. While Fehr said on June 27 the players would be willing to start the season without a deal if negotiations were ongoing, both sides have been unwilling in recent days to say whether the season would begin on time.
Can I start to panic now?