NHL, Union Continue CBA Talks, Deny Flyers' Offer To Shea Weber Affects Negotiations
The NHL and NHLPA met Thursday at the league offices in N.Y. for the second of three consecutive days. The focus remained on the owners' proposal, presented last Friday, which called for many givebacks from the union. "We met for two hours, give or take, and spent most of the day discussing the owners' proposal -- mostly as it related to how their proposals could change player contracts and would have meaningful effects," said NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr. "It's fair to say that discussion focused in no small part on what would happen to players if the scenario of their proposal was adopted." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly called it "a good discussion." He added, "Each side had interesting views and theories and projections and predictions, and we hashed it through. That's what bargaining's about." Daly declined to go into specifics on the requests in the owners' proposal, saying only, "I hope it provides a useful framework for moving forward." Meetings continue Friday morning in N.Y., before returning to Toronto next week. Although NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expressed concern on Wednesday about the brief time to get a deal done, Daly was more optimistic. "There's more than enough time to reach a deal," Daly said. "We just have to keep at it, keep moving forward and hopefully we get there." Fehr was asked if the union was ready to pressent a proposal of its own in Toronto. "That depends on a lot of things that I'm not prepared to talk about yet," Fehr said. "We'll have to see next week" (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).
THE WEBER SHOW: Prior to Thursday's meeting, the Flyers announced that they had a signed Predators D and restricted free agent Shea Weber to an offer sheet for 14 years and $100M. The bulk of the payment in signing bonuses is spread over the first four seasons, and the offer was seen as the antithesis of what the owners want in the new CBA. The league's proposal was for contract terms limited to no more than five years. For its part, the NHL seemed unfazed by the blockbuster offer to Weber and said it did not affect CBA negotiations. "Clubs are operating their businesses under the current system," Daly said. "The current CBA does not expire until Sept. 15. That's the way it should be." Said Fehr, "I've always viewed that as long as there's no collusion or anything involved, that, taking into account the system, the contract speaks for itself, in terms of what people should be doing. You'll have to ask (the owners) why they want to modify the system to prevent that kind of choice. I'll let them speak for themselves" (Botta). Free agent RW Shane Doan was among 15 NHLers at Thursday's meeting, and he said that he "found nothing objectionable about the Flyers’ offer to Weber." Daly said that the Weber offer "was mentioned 'in a lighthearted way' during the collective bargaining negotiating session." He said that there was "nothing unusual about the Flyers’ offer" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/20). But ESPN.com's Scott Burnside asked, "How does the league rationalize making significant demands from players, while owners and GMs continue to make the very offers the league insists are hampering the game?" The one area the Weber offer sheet "does highlight is revenue sharing." It is "generally accepted that the league does the worst job of all sports in spreading the wealth among its weaker sisters." The Weber offer sheet is "an example of a tool wielded by a powerful, wealthy team like the Flyers designed to crush a smaller-market team financially and steal its top assets by the sheer dint of economic force" (ESPN.com, 7/19).