Despite Thursday’s theatrics, the NHL and NHLPA appear closer to a deal. Read on for the latest.
NATIONAL POST: NHLPA director Donald Fehr, speaking Saturday at a Canadian Auto Workers council meeting, maintained his claim the NHLPA and NHL were actually close to a deal before the league rejected the PA’s proposal and pulled its own offer from the table. Fehr said he hasn’t spoken directly with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman or deputy commissioner Bill Daly since talks collapsed Thursday. There’s been “some minor chatter” but no future meetings planned.
PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi believes the two sides are indeed close to an agreement despite the theatrics on Thursday. “Oh, there’s still work to be done, but if you cut through the rhetoric, the sides are not far away, money-wise, on the main issues. And it wouldn’t take much for a 48-game season to be saved, with teams starting play in early January”, write Carchidi, who believes compromise on the main sticking points (CBA term limit, player contract term limit, variance issues) is the solution.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Carchidi. The two sides are much closer to an agreement now than at any time since negotiations began in July, and while it appears they won’t get a deal done to start the season in December, I do believe they could start the season by mid-January, if not before, provided the two sides resume negotiations in a timely fashion soon.
CANOE.CA: Former NHL star turned analyst Jeremy Roenick voiced his criticism of Fehr, believing the players should accept the league’s offer.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Pat Leonard believes this lockout isn’t about issues, but the owners resentment toward Fehr. “Their resulting reluctance to re-engage means the players may have lost — for good — the owners most crucial to jump-starting the talks in Manhattan last Tuesday”, writes Leonard, who suggests the league could cancel the remainder of the December schedule as early as Monday.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the league’s actions on Thursday leading to a breakdown in negotiations was simply scripted as part of an effort by the league to stir up dissent among the players and remove Fehr from the negotiations. “The owners and Bettman walked away from the deal because they do not want to complete a deal with Fehr. They want him removed from the equation. That has become their primary mission, a priority greater than negotiating a CBA and saving the 2012-13 season”, writes Brooks, pointing out Calgary owner Murray Edwards on Wednesday telling NHLPA rep Ron Hainsey bringing Fehr back into negotiations could be a deal-breaker .
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Again, why would the owners tell the players bringing Fehr back in would be a deal breaker? Why try such a ham-handed effort to do an end-run around Fehr? That’s what is so puzzling to me. These owners and the NHL negotiators aren’t stupid men, but if they honestly believed they could get the players to agree to a deal without counsel, that was a very dumb move on their part.
CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman reports of a rumor going around that Ron Hainsey, who’s been deeply involved in the CBA negotiations on the NHLPA side, might never see another NHL contract again. Hainsey said he’s not worried about that. “If I play the way I’m capable of, everything will work out.” An NHL negotiator claimed Hainsey is the PA’s “bad cop” in these CBA talks, sometimes going over the line, though Friedman suggests there’s no hard evidence to support that accusation.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth, who has also been quite involved in these negotiations, backed up Hainsey’s story about the league’s claim bringing Fehr back into the negotiations would be a deal breaker.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping that rumor about Hainsey not getting another NHL contract following this lockout is baseless. It would be a shame to see him blackballed simply for his role in these negotiations on the union side.
SPORTSNET.CA: John Shannon on the importance of revenue sharing if the NHL truly wants to ensure more stability among its franchises.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Revenue-sharing has all but disappeared from the radar in recent CBA talks. If the league believes reducing the players share of revenue again will aid its struggling franchises, it is seriously deluded. If slashing the players share of HRR from 75% to 57% and imposing a triple-tier cap system failed to aid those franchises, how does reducing HRR to a 50-50 split with limits on contract terms and salary variance resolve the problem? Put simply, it won’t, not without a significantly improved system of revenue sharing.
MLIVE.COM: 36 locked-out NHL players participated in “Rock Out The Lockout” charity game in Windsor on Saturday, in support of SPARKLES From Above, which supports childhood cancer patients.