SBD/May 14, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHLPA Would Fight If NHL Owners Try To Roll Back Players' Share Of Revenues

NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr acknowledged industry speculation that NHL owners may try to roll back the players’ share of revenues in negotiations for a new CBA this summer, but indicated players would fight such a move. Fehr filled in for his brother, NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, during the Sports Lawyers Association’s annual conference in San Diego. Steve Fehr said the players still do not know what the NHL owners will be seeking in negotiations for a new labor deal this summer. Formal negotiations have not begun and the agreement expires on Sept. 15. He said, “I think it is fair to say that if the approach is what many are predicting: That the owners come in and say we have to shave 5, 10, 15, 25, 30 -- pick a number -- points off the percentage of revenues in the cap that players receive, there will be some players who say, there may be a lot of players who say, ‘Wait a minute. ... We already gave at the office. We made massive concessions last time that were designed to fix your so-called problems. If it has not fixed your so-called problems, we need to have a long, hard discussion about what those problems are and what we should do about it.’” Fehr was referencing the '04-05 NHL lockout, in which players agreed to make many concessions, including accepting a salary cap, after the league shut down for an entire season. But Fehr said he did not know if NHL owners would follow the path of NBA and NFL owners, who asked players to take a reduced share of revenues in '11, or if they would follow the route of MLB owners, who did not seek major economic concessions and reached a labor deal without a lockout last year. “If, on the other hand, there is more of an approach that was taken by MLB, it may be a quick and easy negotiation,” Fehr said. “That is actually what Gary Bettman has said, that he expects a quick and easy negotiation and he probably knows more about it than I do, so perhaps that is the direction it will take.”
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