NHL Lockout, Day 6: No CBA Talks This Week As League Prepares For Alberta Hearing
The first week of the lockout is "nearly in the books and it looks like it's going to pass without a peep between the two sides, with no talks planned between the NHL and the NHL Players Association anytime in the near future," according to Bruce Garrioch of the OTTAWA SUN. While 61 preseason games were "wiped out by the NHL Wednesday, it's expected the 46 that weren't cancelled will be next week." The "official postponement of the start of the regular season on Oct. 11 will take place early next month" (OTTAWA SUN, 9/21). ESPN N.Y.'s Katie Strang cites sources as saying that they "do not expect any formal CBA sessions this week considering Friday's hearing in Edmonton with the Alberta Labour Relations Board." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "confirmed via e-mail that he'd be attending the hearing." NHLPA Dir of Operations Alex Dagg will "represent the union at the hearing, as she did last Friday when a similar appeal was heard before the Quebec Labour Relations Board." Although Daly and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr have "communicated frequently in recent weeks -- the two spoke over the phone Wednesday -- the NHL and NHLPA have not had any formal negotiations since last Wednesday" (ESPNNY.com, 9/20). Daly on Thursday said that he "hopes to see something new on the bargaining table soon but doesn't think it will be the league that comes with the next 'new' suggestion." Daly: "We have another non-CBA-specific meeting Monday in Toronto but at a minimum between now and then, I'm sure we'll talk about schedule" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 9/21).
PLAYER FRUSTRATION BUILDS: Flames RW Jarome Iginla Thursday after an informal session with more than a dozen other NHLers at WinSport said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "said last time, it was a deal that would work for everyone, be a win-win." Iginla: "Now we're not talking 1% (back from the players). They're talking 10% back, and that's $300 million, and that doesn't seem honest from where that was. So how can we trust them next time?" He added, "Even though I didn't agree with it last time, you could see their point. This time, I don't. It's like Gary enjoys battling, enjoys the argument" (CALGARY SUN, 9/21). Maple Leafs LW Clarke MacArthur said, "Looks like we are a long ways away." He added, "It's a great game and to sit out the whole winter, it would not be good for either side" (TORONTO SUN, 9/21). Stars RW Jaromir Jagr: "I don't have many games left in the NHL and it's kind of sad for me, but I understand it's for the future of the game." He added, "Everybody is going to lose -- players, owners and fans" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/21).
THE CLOCK IS TICKING: In Detroit, Ted Kulfan writes the longer the lockout goes, the more likely the festival around the Winter Classic "is in jeopardy." Red Wings Senior VP & Alternate Governor Jimmy Devellano said, "We're only days into a lockout, so it's so very early to speculate on any of this. ... But I will say a month from now, some decisions will have to be made pro or con" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/21). In DC, Dan Daly asks, "Why do these union-management tiffs in the NHL tend to drag on so long?" There is "no telling ... when the current impasse will be resolved." Daly: "By the time it's done, the NHL could have the three longest lockouts in sports history" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/21). A Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE editorial states, "It's hard to choose sides in a dispute that disgusts everyone." Fans "cannot be expected to remain forever patient, or loyal -- especially because this is the third lockout since Gary Bettman became commissioner in 1993." Spiraling salaries "suggest that owners need to control their cost structure, lest tickets become even more prohibitively expensive for hockey moms and dads and kids." The editorial: "More dispiriting, there is no indication that a sense of urgency has taken hold." Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "should commit to continue meeting until this is solved" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/21). In Nashville, David Climer writes under the header, "NHL Will Survive This Lockout." Climer: "They know their fans. When they crank up the season ... the fans will come back. They always do. Hockey fans put fans of other sports to shame. They are blindly loyal to their favorite sport" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/21).
IMPACT IN EUROPE: The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek notes KHL President Alexander Medvedev "posted a message on the league's website, prior to the debuts of" Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin and Penguins C Evgeni Malkin, "stressing that his league was legally within its rights to import locked-out NHL players." Medvedev in the statement noted once the lockout was implemented, members of the NHLPA "currently have no legal obligations to their employers" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/21). Int'l Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel on Thursday said that the "flow of star players to European teams during the NHL lockout could distort national competitions." Fasel said that he "balanced the increased attention for European hockey against potential damage to the integrity of leagues, especially if players return to North America midseason." He said, "It's questionable how fair it is to the others (teams) and the whole league system" (AP, 9/20).