NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "expressed some hope that collective bargaining talks this week will help lead to some resolution," but he also "made it clear ... that the longer the NHL lockout lasts, the less happy the players will be playing under a salary cap," according to Kevin McGran of the TORONTO STAR. Fehr said, "If this goes on for an extended period of time, I don’t know what they (the players) are going to do. But I think it’s safe to say, they would be exploring all options." He added that the players "can live with a salary cap if an agreement can be reached quickly." Fehr "fell short of calling for the salary cap to be scrapped outright -- something that would put the NHL and the players further apart." But it was a "reminder to commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners -- on the eve of new talks with the league on non-core economic issues -- that things can get ugly in a hurry." The NHL has "publicly said it wants the players to return to the bargaining table with a new proposal, but Fehr is not happy that [the] league wants the proposal on its terms: that the union must accept some kind of rollbacks in Year 1 of the deal." Fehr said that he "has 'ideas' regarding a new proposal, but none include rolling back salaries." He said that he "hoped the season would start soon." But McGran notes Fehr declined to "predict when he thought the NHL season might begin." Fehr: "In basketball, they played 75, 80 per cent of the season starting as late as Christmas. I do hope we start many weeks before Christmas" (TORONTO STAR, 10/10).
MEET THE FEHRS: In Philadelphia, Sam Carchidi writes Fehr and his brother, NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr, are "heavyweights in their feisty labor battle with the league's owners." Those "supporting the players say the Fehrs have not been ineffective." The players "remain united." They speak "reverently when describing the work Donald Fehr has done since he was named to head the NHLPA nearly two years ago." Flyers D Kimmo Timonen said, "I think the union is much better this time around. We're more informed, we're more open. We know what's going on" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/10).
THE DALY SHOW: In Edmonton, Jim Matheson noted NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was on CBC radio with former Maple Leafs GM Bob Stellick and said that outside mediation "isn't needed at this point." Matheson: "Daly thinks mediators can stay away for now because both sides do understand each other's position. Immediate cuts in salary for the players by the NHL; revenue sharing by the strong clubs to help the weak teams from the union" (EDMONTONJOURNAL.com, 10/9). In Nashville, Josh Cooper spoke one-on-one with Daly, and asked him how the league's proposal helps "smaller markets." Daly said, "We instituted as part of our last collective bargaining agreement a pretty comprehensive revenue sharing program. That program will produce about $150 million in revenue sharing this past season. Our proposal that’s on the table now would increase that pool fairly significantly up in the neighborhood of $190 million, and depending on how the negotiation ultimately plays out, probably more than that" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 10/10).
READING BETWEEN THE LINES: ESPN's Barry Melrose yesterday said his glass has "always been half-full" when it comes to whether there will be a labor settlement. Melrose said, "When this happened five years ago, when there was a lost season, they didn't talk for three months. They're talking every day right now. We didn't have the outdoor game five, six years ago. That is a huge thing for the NHL. I still think it's going to be a thing like the NBA. We're going to come back in December ... and I think we will have a season." He added, "You got to do this it seems like now in sports, you've got to do this song and dance. But at the end of the day, I just think this thing will get straightened out." ESPN's Steve Levy said, "But not every five (years). You have to do it, you have to go through it. Can't you make a longer deal?" ("Lev-Dynamo Moscow," ESPN2, 10/9). In Detroit, Helene St. James writes in what "seems to be a dire sign for the Winter Classic, the NHL Operations Department does not have plans to visit Ann Arbor this month." Were the '12-13 schedule "under way as normal -- were the Winter Classic not at risk -- operations people would have had a great opportunity to see Ann Arbor at its busiest this month" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/10).
JUST LIKE HOME: Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin, who is playing for his hometown KHL Dynamo Moscow, yesterday said that he was "prepared to remain in Russia if the NHL lockout continued." Ovechkin: "I enjoy playing here. I feel the trust and I feel comfortable." In N.Y., Brian Pinelli notes Ovechkin reportedly earns $6M with the Dynamo, which is $3M "less than what he would have made with" the Capitals (N.Y. TIMES, 10/10). Levy noted there are 100 NHLers "that are playing elsewhere right now." Melrose said that "number is going to go up as the NHL players start thinking this lockout is going to start going longer." Melrose said of comments that Russian players competing in the KHL may stay there even when the NHL resolves the lockout, "I think they're using that as a threat to the NHL owners. If you consider yourself a great player, you're going to want to play in the best league in the world, and there's no doubt, no matter what anyone else says, the NHL is the greatest league in the world." The players are not going to "say anything in the press right now that isn't a message to the owners. They're told that by their agents" and Donald Fehr. Melrose: "There's a lot of stuff going on in the press that's designed for the owners more so than fans" ("Lev-Dynamo Moscow," ESPN2, 10/9).