NHL, NHLPA Hope To "Move Forward" With Negotiations Over The Weekend
The NHLPA spent Thursday "shaping a new counter-proposal to the league, and will present it Friday morning," according to Steve Zipay of NEWSDAY. If there is "room for compromise and the sides are willing, it’s possible that they will meet again on Saturday." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Thursday said, "We’re hopeful [that] it’s a meaningful proposal that we can continue to make progress from; we feel like we made a good step in that direction earlier this week, we hope they would take a step forward as well." The CBA is set to expire Sept. 15, and he added, "Obviously the clock is ticking. I would say the positive thing is that both parties are committed to ... if there are reasons to meet ... to continue to move forward" (NEWSDAY.com, 8/30). The CP's Chris Johnston noted there is "a sense negotiations have reached crunch time, especially with the growing possibility" the league is heading toward a lockout. NHL business "is essentially on hold while players and teams wait to see if an agreement can be reached in time for training camps to open as scheduled Sept. 21 and the regular season to start Oct. 11." Negotiations are "now solely focused on the league’s economic system and figuring out how revenues are divided." Even the contract issues "have been pushed aside for the time being." The sides "don’t have any blackout days scheduled in the coming weeks, meaning they could conceivably bargain around the clock." Daly "wouldn’t even rule out the possibility of meeting through the Labour Day long weekend -- provided they have matters worth discussing once the NHLPA’s offer is put on the table" (CP, 8/30).
WATCH YOUR TONE: SI.com's Allan Muir wrote the "most telling element won't necessarily be what [NHLPA Exec Dir] Donald Fehr and the players say, but how they say it." The tone of the talks "has been business-like and respectful." Muir: "Until Wednesday, anyway, when one could sense a little surliness slipping into the dialogue as the calendar grinds closer to Sept. 15." Fehr has "masked whatever frustration he's feeling with a well-practiced, professorial charm." But he "has to be tiring" of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's approach, particularly his "notions that a new formula for determining (i.e. shrinking) Hockey Related Revenue is critical and that escrow is a much more friendly method of dealing with salary overages than rollbacks." It is "tough to deal with someone when you're not speaking the same language" (SI.com, 8/30).
UNDER CONSIDERATION: CAA Hockey co-Head Pat Brisson said that if there is a lockout, Penguins C Sidney Crosby is "willing to consider playing in Europe." Brisson: "Sidney wants to play hockey. Of course he would consider alternatives (to the NHL)." Brisson said that he "has had 'many conversations with lots of European clubs' about players represented by his agency" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 8/31). Brisson added that Blackhawks Cs Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also would consider playing in Europe "under the right circumstances and appropriate time" (SUNTIMES.com, 8/30).