NHL, NHLPA Hold Second Negotiating Session; Contracts, Signing Bonuses To Be Hot Topic
The NHL and NHLPA met for 2 hours and 40 minutes at the league offices in N.Y. Thursday, marking the "second formal bargaining session between the sides," according to Katie Strang of ESPN N.Y. NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "characterized the discussions as 'business-like' but declined to divulge details about the process." Fehr said, "When you're beginning negotiations, you need to have dialogue. You need to see what you have a common understanding about, what you need to flesh out, what you need to discuss further. We did some of that today." Fehr acknowledged another round of meetings were scheduled to take place Friday. The players "joining Fehr at the negotiating table" Thursday were Islanders C John Tavares, LW Matt Moulson and G Rick DiPietro, Canucks C Manny Malhotra, Rangers LW Ruslan Fedotenko, Kings RW Kevin Westgarth, Jets D Ron Hainsey and Blues RW B.J. Crombeen. Reports from the first session last Friday "indicated the NHL made its initial presentation about what has happened during the past seven years under the current CBA." It is "believed the NHLPA was supposed to make its presentation Thursday, but Fehr declined to confirm the procedural strategy" (ESPNNY.com, 7/5).
DOLLARS AND SENSE: In San Jose, David Pollak writes monster NHL contracts similar to those that free agents LW Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter signed with the Wild this week "underscore an issue that could stand between players and owners as they try to hammer out a new labor agreement this summer." Some franchises claim that those contracts -- with "huge signing bonuses up front and small money on the back end -- circumvent the intent of the salary cap." Closing what "some see as a major loophole is one of the many issues to be resolved before the Sept. 15 expiration of the current labor agreement" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/6). In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason wrote the "same owners who are expected to seek a large percentage in NHL revenue or take away guaranteed contracts are the ones signing fictional contracts front-loaded with ridiculous money." It needs to "be addressed in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement." The list is "long and laughable considering owners are circumventing the spirit on an agreement designed to save them from themselves" (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/5).