NHL Players Remain Optimistic Sides Can Reach Agreement, Avoid Lockout
Capitals LW Jason Chimera is "optimistic" the NHL and NHLPA “will reach a compromise” in their labor dispute and avoid a lockout, according to Derek Van Diest of the EDMONTON SUN. Chimera said, “We took a 24% cut last time, which at the time was pretty drastic. And to take another 24% cut, that’s 48% of the salary that I could have been making. But it’s not only that -- it’s about the free agency issues as well.” He added, “I think things are different this time around. The lines of communication are definitely open.” Van Diest notes players are “receiving daily updates on the status of the negotiations and seemed more unified as a group.” Chimera said NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "has done a good job of keeping everyone informed and keeping everyone up to date with what’s going on." Chimera: "You look at the revenue that the league has made, it would seem pretty dumb to have a lockout now” (EDMONTON SUN, 8/22).
PREDATORS PRAY FOR DEAL: In Nashville, Mike Organ notes the Predators are “keeping their fingers crossed that the regular season will kick in as scheduled on Oct. 11.” Predators C Mike Fisher said, “We feel like there’s been progress being made. It’s just going to take time.” Fisher: “You look at the momentum in the game. This franchise is a perfect example with the growth it’s seen. A lot of teams are seeing that same thing. Everyone’s excited about the game and to have a stoppage would be real bad.” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/22). Bruins D Andrew Ference said, “We don’t view Sept. 15 as a be-all and end-all date. We need to work through that date with a system so we don’t have to revisit this in four or five years and do it all over again. A system that actually helps the game and not be a stopgap until the next fight” (Vancouver PROVINCE, 8/22).
LEADER OF THE PACK: Fehr said, “They (owners) have not indicated any substantial willingness to increase the revenue sharing. Hopefully that will be an area where we will be able to find more common ground. If you can find a way to come to a conceptual agreement that we all think that this counts and that doesn’t (hockey related revenue), that’s great. If you can’t, then you have to find a way to come to an agreement that allows you in some fashion to accommodate those disagreements and resolve them if necessary on a case-by-case basis.” Fehr added, “I don’t think that those kinds of issues in the end are likely to get in the way. The gulf that separates us is triggered essentially by the owners’ position that the players have to make enormous concessions -- far more than they did last time” (THEPROVINCE.com, 8/21).
START FILLING IN THE GAPS: In Winnipeg, Gary Lawless writes, “If they're not talking this week and merely meeting for the sake of meeting, you can begin to make plans that don't include NHL this fall.” However, the union’s proposal has “some openings for discussion” if the sides intend to reach a compromise (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 8/22). In N.Y., Jeff Klein noted “there is one counterintuitive thing about the union’s $240 million revenue-sharing proposal: $100 million of it would be controlled largely” by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. That part of the union proposal, “called the Industry Growth Fund, was revealed” by Fehr on Friday. While “most believe that the extremely cool reception Bettman gave the union’s overall proposal last week signals a rejection of enhanced revenue-sharing, it may not necessarily.” The NHLPA’s revenue-sharing plan “may just hold enough appeal for struggling owners for Bettman to accept it, in some form, in whatever collective bargaining agreement eventually emerges” (NYTIMES.com, 8/21).