NHL Lockout, Day 24: Meetings Set For This Week; Core Issues Not On Agenda
The NHL and NHLPA will meet tomorrow and Thursday in N.Y. However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday said agenda items do not include economic and system issues "as of now." The two sides are expected to discuss topics such as player health and safety, medical care and drug testing. Since the lockout began on Sept. 16, the NHL and NHLPA have yet to formally negotiate core economic issues. The regular season was scheduled to begin on Thursday, but last week the NHL cancelled all games through Oct. 24 (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).
THE HEART OF THE MATTER: Daly indicated that he would "like to see economics and system issues -- essentially how the sides split up league revenue -- put back on the bargaining table soon.” The CP’s Chris Johnston noted NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr “believes a deal can be reached even if the parties aren't discussing the fundamental issue standing between them.” Fehr has maintained throughout negotiations that it is “productive for them to continue talking and finding agreement wherever they can” (CP, 10/8). In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch notes it “makes some sense to try to get the smaller issues out of the way if they're going to eventually reach a deal, but as long as they keep avoiding how to split the pot of $3.3 billion in revenues, there isn't going to be a solution” (OTTAWA SUN, 10/9). In New Jersey, Andrew Gross writes if this week's talks “fall flat and end, like the last attempt, with dueling, accusatory statements from the sides, realistically, the odds of the NHL beginning play before December become very slim.” Gross: "No doubt, failed talks would lead shortly thereafter to canceling another portion of the season. ... But chatting with a few around the league this week, there's at least a percentage who hold some guarded optimism that this week's talks might be productive” (Bergen RECORD, 10/9).
LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST: CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty wrote, “There’s a clear dislike for the NHL litigators among the NHL players that has begun to affect the tenor of the negotiations between the two sides, and that’s degenerated into a very real lack of trust given the league’s long history of locking out its players.” There is a “very real aggravation among the players that they’re being asked to take a 10-20 percent pay cut on their salaries when the NHL is generating revenue at record-breaking totals.” Sources said that the league has “plenty of wariness about Fehr’s leadership of the players union.” The NHL BOG is "very hesitant to adopt anything significant" that the Fehr proposes, "for fear it will eventually turn out to be a deal that’s more advantageous to the players.” They “know his reputation as a brilliant, tough negotiator from his days in the Major League Baseball Players Association, and many NHL owners are afraid to allow him too much slack during the negotiations.” There is a “wide-held belief among the league owners and officers that Fehr got involved in the NHLPA for kicks, and that he is the only person that has nothing to lose if the NHL loses an entire season to a work stoppage” (CSNNE.com, 10/8).