Last weeks’ negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA have completely fizzled down to a brief meeting today discussing each others’ displeasures. The two sides negotiated for hours this week and nothing has come of them. Both sides seem to left today’s meeting with a bit ill will towards the other. After the meeting, both Donald Fehr and Bill Daly took some time to discuss how both sides are feeling about these negotiations. More specifically, the hot topic of the day, which was contract issues.
I’ll start with Donald Fehr and the NHLPA. Fehr has been recorded as saying that contracting issues are much more important than the much debated revenue sharing issue. He also had this to say:
“They’ve indicated to us from the beginning that the share was really important and the contracting issues were really important. We told them both are important, but as share is limited, contracting rights become not only more important but vastly more important. Players have two interests here. Interest No. 1 is how big the share is and that’s not agreed upon yet either, but the parties have at least moved on that. The second one is how does an individual player negotiate his piece of the pie? [The] answer is players will have vastly fewer rights, vastly less leverage for vastly longer portion of their career under the NHL proposal.”
Fehr has a problem specifically with the system for entry-level players, the restrictions on salary arbitration, the five-year maximum contract length and salaries varying significantly from year-to-year:
“The provision that says there can’t be significant variability to what a player makes between one year and the next in a contract … really cuts down the number of teams you can talk to and a number of other things.”
Now for Bill Daly and the NHL’s side of the argument. When asked about the same topic of contract issues, Daly had a bit of a different outlook, which focused on the bigger picture:
“We think the system will operate better. Obviously I think everyone knows that we’ve had concerns for a while about contracts that we feel are circumvention of the system and the cap … that is definitely an issue we need to clean up.”
Another hot topic recently on the docket has been about moving the unrestricted free agency age from 27 to 28. Daly believes this move would help help teams give “more money to more established players:”
“It’s something we hear from our GMs regularly. They believe they’re forced to make talent assessments too early in a player’s career and it would be better for the game … if they could make those decisions a little later in a player’s career. We’re talking about one year — we’re not talking about moving heaven and earth.”
To finish off his opinions, Daly had this to say on contracting issues:
“These issues are very, very important to the clubs … If we were hearing from the clubs, ‘Geez, don’t let these player contracting issues get in the way of a deal. Let’s get a deal done and get the players back on the ice,’ then that’s what we would be saying at the bargaining table, but that’s not what we’re hearing from our clubs. If we can find some way to address our concerns on these issues, we can move this process forward … I just don’t right now, given their opposition to addressing some of these issues, I don’t know where we go.”
Well, no we know that revenue sharing and ‘make whole’ are not the only heavily debated points right now.
As I said in my last post, don’t jump for just yet. Unfortunately it appears I was right. Discussion really near the end of the business week and today’s brief meeting was just he icing on the cake. The longer these negotiations continue, they more pointless they become regarding a 2012-2013 season. I am almost 100% sure when I say that I no longer believe any kind of season will happen.