The National Hockey League and the players’ union have logged another few days of sessions in Toronto. The current state of NHL/NHLPA negotiations seem to be progressing. The pace however, is maddening. NHLPA executive director Don Fehr did try to explain to the media (and to an extent the fans) the pace of the talks. “When you’re in collective bargaining, very often what happens, is you have a session, which is devoted to a topic or two. You have a good discussion, likely is not, it sparks other discussions at other meetings down the road, and that’s pretty much what we had today.”
The discussions are on two main topics. The first topic is what both sides state as ‘hard-core economic issues’. The salary cap, the removal of contract arbitration, free agency, contract lengths, and the shift of player/owner profit percentages. Fehr has been adamant that the the players will not issue any form of counter-proposal or offer any compromise until they players have absorbed and digested all the pertinent information at hand. The second main topic has been centered around secondary issues. Health care, inter-team discussion, and player discipline were the subjects discussed yesterday and today.
The media is just as impatient as we are. When asked(more like challenged) by a zealous reporter, Fehr was direct to the point of curt. “I don’t engage in bargaining on the basis of hopes and prayers, you deal with what is.” he stated. I can see his problem here. Fehr is here to make sure the players can get the best possible deal with the owners. He’s got to get the agendas of hundreds of NHL players and roll them into the smallest list of achievable goals. He then has to run up against the owners. Several of these owners are making judgement calls to better their team alone, and not the overall betterment of the league.
It can be clearly shown that those judgment calls have led us to where we are now. Fehr reminded the media that as long as no one side pulls the plug on these negotiations, that the league will play out its schedule as planned. Even the owners wouldn’t be this crazy now. Let’s hope not.
If you want to keep up on the latest negotiations from the side of the players, here’s the link.