Last week, both sides had agreed on the following: 1.) The HRR(hockey related revenue) that had a 57/43 players/owners meet in the middle at 50/50. 2.) The league would pay $300 million to compensate for the HRR shift. 3.) Maintain the current rules for players’ eligibility for UFA(unrestricted free agency at seven years or twenty-seven years old and salary arbitration (four years). Then someone said the wrong thing, the owners didn’t want to talk to Fehr, and the whole bloody thing came apart.
Now, to add a certain level of cloak and dagger to the proceedings, both sides chose to meet in a neutral location. (Iselin, New Jersey) A mediator was brought in to help this three month stalemate reach closure. The first sign that things were not going to go well today is that neither side at any point met each other face to face. To me it sounds more like a hostage crisis than a contract negotiation. The second sign it had been a wash was the reflections of both parties.
“There were discussions of the various issues involved and how far apart we are and where we go from here.” Don Fehr said. “I can’t tell you that any progress was made. Obviously we’re going to stay in contact with the mediator tonight and in the morning to try and figure out what the next appropriate step is.” Now it comes down to how bad the players want to play, how serious their commitment to the numbers are, and are they willing to wager that enough of the big market owners see the precipice and have the brains to step away with the players together.
“We don’t have a conclusion to the process,” Daly said. Well, I guess this means that the NHL and the NHLPA can get a couple of cans and a string and try communincating that way if the mediator isn’t making any progress either. Seriously, what the puck?