NHL Labor Talks Growing "Contentious" Over Supplementary Discipline, Revenue Sharing
With the issue of "supplementary discipline a large part" of yesterday's agenda, "talks grew increasingly contentious" between the NHL and NHLPA the second day of CBA negotiations, according to Katie Strang of ESPN N.Y. Special Assistant to NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr Mathieu Schneider "wouldn't go so far as to characterize the negotiations as 'adversarial,' but he did concede that there were some tense moments between the two camps." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "similarly downplayed the tension and described the discussions as 'lively.'" Although the two sides "recently have found common ground in other areas -- legal and health and safety issues, for example -- supplementary discipline may be among the most polarizing of the 'non-core' economic issues that must be brokered should they come to a new deal." It is believed that the NHLPA would "like to see an independent arbiter involved in some capacity on issues of supplementary discipline, especially those that carry significant financial penalties, although Daly said the appeals process was not a large part of the day's discussions." Daly "anticipates that will be a significant issue that must be addressed in the near future." With talks and tensions "ratcheting up, Fehr is expected to return Thursday from Europe, where he briefed players on the proceedings thus far." Discussions over the main financial issues "likely will resume Thursday and Friday at league offices in midtown Manhattan" (ESPNNY.com, 8/8).
WAITING GAME: The league’s first volley a few weeks ago called for a cut in the players’ share of revenue from 57% to 46%, a change that the union said would result in a 25% giveback. The NHL also called for Entry Level contracts to increase to five years from the current three. Daly yesterday said of the union taking more time to respond, "Yes, we’d like to get a counter-proposal. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re in a holding pattern, per se, because we’re continuing to meet and continuing to try and hash through the other issues. But certainly, the sooner we can get that proposal, the better" (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Mark Everson cites sources as saying that Fehr is "not likely to present the union's economic proposal -- the big one -- until the sides reconvene in Toronto, starting Monday." Fehr yesterday "did not join the 'small group' talks that focused on grievance arbitration in the morning, and supplemental discipline in the afternoon." The union "dislikes the Lone Justice format, starring" NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan as "ruler of the rink, with any appeals of his verdicts heard by his bosses." The union would "prefer an independent arbitrator for appeals." Both sides are "waiting to see Fehr's proposals, expecting him to take a militant stance against further concessions on the salary cap" (N.Y. POST, 8/9). SPORTING NEWS' Jesse Spector wrote, "Fans would most like to feel confident in the idea that the 2012-13 NHL season will start on time, and a better gauge of that confidence should come after Fehr returns" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/8).
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT: CSNPHILLY.com's Tim Panaccio noted Flyers LW and player rep Scott Hartnell, "who has attended six sessions, said his impressions so far have been that the owners got everything they wanted in 2005 to assure cost certainty and have now pulled 'a 180.'" The NHL has "never in its history been this strong financially or in popularity." Hartnell this week said, "To use Gary (Bettman's) own words, it's a systemic issue. He doesn't want to look at the rich teams or the teams that are losing money. He wants to look at them all together which is a total 180 from what it was seven years ago." He added, "It's a little frustrating that way, but that's their position and you take it as it is. You have to believe they are 100 percent certain of getting everything (from us). It's up to us to see if it's feasible or not. But you look at the rollback and percentage they want and it's more concessions than we gave up the last time around" (CSNPHILLY.com, 8/8).
TIME TO START SHARING: In Columbus, Michael Arace writes there is a "widening chasm between a dozen or so teams that are printing money and the other 15 to 18 that are struggling to break even, or are bleeding red ink." The beginning of the answer "is in meaningful revenue sharing, of a kind that the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball have embraced." Fehr will be "pitching a system of revenue sharing that goes well beyond the relatively paltry system already in place." Arace: "It will not be an easy sell. ... The question is: Will the more powerful owners insist on carving another chunk out of the players? If so, the union will not abide" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/9).