Mathieu Schneider, the National Hockey League Players Association’s(NHLPA) special assistant to the executive director spoke to the media in Toronto yesterday. He was commenting on the state of the NHL/NHLPA labor talks. The media was again quick to push for information regarding their forward momentum. The main point(s) of contention are the ‘hard-core economic issues’.Schneider explained that those issues could not move forward at the present. “We’re waiting for information, financial information. We won’t be in a position until we get that information, and we’re able to analyze it.”
That financial information is probably the biggest make or break item of the 2012-2013 season. The players and their lawyers will finally get to see the financial state of the NHL franchises. From what has come out so far, that information isn’t good. Half of the teams were running in the red last year (the Boston Bruins are just fine financially folks). The three most profitable teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, and the Montreal Canadiens) make more than the other twenty-seven combined. When the owners asked the players to drop their share from 57 to 46%, I thought it was highway robbery. Now I’m surprised that the number was that high.
The two sides chose to be productive nevertheless. They worked on issues they could more or less agree on. Some of these issues like player retirement and playing conditions had not be seriously addressed since the 1994 collective bargaining agreement(CBA). Schneider was up-beat about this part of the negotiation. “I think there are a lot of issues where we have the same common goal, and its coming to an agreement and how we got to that goal, and that’s a lot of what happened today.”
It could not have been easy. Hundreds of players, all with different ideas and suggestions. Trying to get that many people to march a common path could easily be akin to herding cats. “It’s not a one size fits all approach to the players.” offered Schneider. The negotiations are moving back to New York on Monday. The owners will be bringing in their finanacial information this week, and then the real negotiations for the saving of the season will begin. Fortunately, neither the players or owners have any desire to begin a work stoppage at this time.