NHL Lockout, Day 12: League Likely To Cancel Rest Of Preseason Before Tomorrow's Meeting
It is expected by the time the NHL and NHLPA gather in N.Y. tomorrow for their first formal bargaining session since the lockout was implemented on Sept. 15, the league "will have cancelled the rest of the exhibition schedule," according to Chris Stevenson of QMI AGENCY. Nobody is expecting the two sides "to come out arm-in-arm Friday." At this point, an "agreement just to continue talking would have to be seen as solid progress." In the meantime, it "seems like the next page in the NHLPA Lockout PR Handbook is to trash the owners." Flyers RW Claude Giroux, Avalanche LW Gabriel Landeskog and Canadiens D Josh Gorges "all took swings at their bosses" (QMI AGENCY, 9/26). In Chicago, Adam Jahns notes "among the topics that will be addressed on Friday" are contract lengths, arbitration rights, pensions, scheduling and discipline. Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews: "It seems like the past week or so, when both sides don't meet, it almost feels like there's a sense we're starting over from scratch" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/27). Lightning LW Ryan Malone: "Most of the guys, we're in there talking, the way it sounds, we're prepared to be locked out the whole year." In Tampa, Damian Cristodero notes the union "provided players with NHLPA jerseys" for their group workout, a "much better looking and less contentious option than the team jerseys players wore inside out to show lockout unity" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/27).
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: The GLOBE & MAIL's Sean Gordon writes under the header, "Donald Fehr Forges Ironclad Solidarity." Players said that the NHLPA Exec Dir "has been adept at reaching beyond cliques and including everyone in the discussions," from superstars like Penguins C Sidney Crosby to free agent LW Mathieu Darche, who is on the bargaining committee." Fehr has "constructed what he hopes will be a lasting unity, and has done so painstakingly, racking up a hideous number of frequent flier points." One of the "main tasks for Fehr is to battle the inevitable impatience his members will express, but as he has said, every negotiation has its own pace and it doesn't pay to rush it." Fehr said, "The hardest thing to do is wait, but sometimes that's just what you have to do" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/27). In N.Y., Mark Everson writes the lockout has "yet to reach the serious, hand-wringing stage, and it won't until the sides lose things that matter." The absence of negotiations "is maddening in some circles, but there has been no reason yet for either side to bend, so there really is little to talk about." It would not be a surprise "to see the final collective bargaining agreement include provisions for advertising on uniforms and helmets as additional sources of revenue" (N.Y. POST, 9/27).
FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: In a special to SI, Former Panthers co-Managing Partner Stu Siegel writes, "If you look at the time line over the past year, Fehr appeared to be stalling and stringing out negotiations." But when "most of these owners say they're losing money every year, they're telling the truth." The players "do need to take a pay cut," but the "pain should be shared." This is a "players-versus-owners issue, of course." But it is "just as much a battle between the high-revenue clubs and the teams that are losing money." Get a team of "independent financial geniuses to figure out the math to equitably divide the $3.3 billion in revenue, and then convert that into a new CBA" (SI, 10/1 issue).