NHL CBA talks stall again, while the Hockey Hall of Fame inducts Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, Mats Sundin and Adam Oates tonight.
CBC.CA/ASSOCIATED PRESS: CBA talks between the NHL and NHLPA lasted less than 90 minutes on Sunday, breaking up with the two sides once again blaming each other for the stalled negotiations. No date for renewed talks have been set, though it’s possible they could meet again on Monday in Toronto. NHLPA director Donald Fehr maintains talks will continue, only he’s not sure when they’ll renew formal discussions. The latest sticking point is player contract issues, including term, free agency and arbitration rights.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Pat Leonard writes the only thing the two sides appear to agree on is what little progress they’re making.
“I don’t see a path to an agreement here,” union executive director Don Fehr said outside the league’s Manhattan office.
“I don’t know where we go from here,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly agreed on day 57 of the lockout.”
The league owners are as adamant about changing player contract rules as they are the revenue structure, while the players have no interest in giving away contract rights.
SPORTSNET.CA: Michael Grange is puzzled over the negotiating tactics of both sides, as they “wrestle around trying to take chunks out of each other rather than focusing on how best to get out of the dark and into the light.” Grange also finds it odd the two sides are being inflexible over contract rights, especially the league’s position, as it seemingly removes “ the opportunity to forge their own financial destiny within the league by placing them under increased control by their teams for longer stretches of their career”. He adds, “Giving nothing in that area after already extracting some major concessions on what player’s get paid is a labour negotiation’s version of a face wash with a gloved hand.”
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHLPA made “a proposal regarding front-loaded contracts under which teams would lose a commensurate amount of cap space previously saved if players on front-loaded deals retire before the end of their respective contracts.
The PA also made a proposal under which teams would be charged cap space for players in the AHL on one-way contracts worth at least $1 million. The charge would be applied on future contracts, not those currently in place.
The league refused to consider either proposal.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like I was mistaken when I suggested contract issues wouldn’t be as serious a sticking point as division of revenue. Both sides appear to be digging in their heels on these issues, which will only slow CBA negotiations. Hopefully, the two sides will meet again soon and work toward resolving these problems.
Both sides have to be willing to be flexible on the contract rights. For example, most NHL players will never see a contract longer than five years, so they should be willing to be flexible on that point. Raising the eligibility age for UFA status by one year to 28 shouldn’t be a game-breaker, since many NHL players did very well for themselves back when the eligibility age was 31. I also believe the league is justified in closing the loophole which allows “cheat deals”, which are heavily front-loaded deals designed to legally “cheat” the salary cap. Those contracts aren’t the players’ fault, but since a number of owners can’t help themselves, this loophole must be closed. The league, however, is out of line wanting to limit or take away arbitration rights.
SPORTING NEWS: Jesse Spector calls on NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA director Donald Fehr not to attend tonight’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, fearing their presence would be an unwelcome distraction.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman and Fehr have every right to attend the ceremony. Given the current labor dispute, they probably shouldn’t, but given their positions, they will be there.
SI.COM: Brian Cazeneuve looks at potential HHOF inductees, including Mike Modano, Nicklas Lidstrom, Mark Recchi, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, Peter Forsberg, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Osgood, Eric Lindros, Curtis Joseph, Dominik Hasek, Scott Niedermayer, Rob Blake and Dave Andreychuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Modano, Lidstrom, Chelios, Fedorov, Recchi, Shanahan, Hasek, Niedermayer and Blake are certainties to make the Hall of Fame. Lindros will eventually get in, but there will be those on the induction committee who’ll drag their feet. Andreychuk and Osgood will eventually get in, but they’re going to wait for a while.
FACEOFF.COM: Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin, who’ll be inducted tonight into the HHOF, would like to see the NHL return to Quebec City one day. Both began their NHL careers with the Nordiques. Sakic followed the team to Colorado, Sundin was dealt to Toronto in the summer of 1994.