The NHL and NHLPA met for almost two hours last night in New York. The hope is they'll meet again Tuesday with the union returning with a full proposal. Word is the players may want another day.
The NHL has requested a full, formal proposal from the NHLPA. This has been a source of frustration for the league for some time. It feels Donald Fehr has never made a formal offer on anything other than the original one on core economics that pays players more money next year than last year. It has never, according to the league, spelled out anything on paper in terms of contract restrictions.
So the NHL has indicated to the union that it is not willing to discuss contractual issues until it comes to some sort of understanding in terms of core economics because it's all interconnected. Basically, the NHL wants a full proposal written on actual paper -- a heck of a concept 66 days into a lockout.
The union indicated it'll be back with something.
"We've never heard a full proposal from them," Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told reporters in New York last night. "They have given us a variation of the same proposal on economics a couple of times and there was no change in that position. They are still suggesting that they are moving in our direction on economics, but until we know exactly what their position is on economics now, we think it's all tied together and would like to hear it all together.
"It's our position that we've made a couple comprehensive proposals in a row. We'd like to know where they are on all of the issues. We asked that they put together a comprehensive proposal for us to consider."
Fehr was quoted in an Associated Report saying, "Our position all along has been on the player contracting issues that they become considerably more important to players as the cap becomes limited. We made proposals in a couple of areas in this regard, which moved toward them, but we wanted to talk about the rest of these to see where we were. We indicated to them the last time we met and again today that if we put aside for a moment the effect of the lockout on revenues — we didn't think we were too far apart on the share — and if that was right we can back into a discussion on the revenues. We wanted to know where we were on the player contracting stuff first, and they were unwilling to do that — at least tonight."
So, the league wants to know where the two sides at on core economics before talking contractual stuff. Fehr wants to know where they're at on the "contracting stuff first" before talking about the economics!
And in the interim, player careers, owner business and a league is being driven right off a cliff.
Here's the deal: whether the players think the league is playing fair or not, the owners control whether this thing will ever end.
The owners feel Fehr's been playing games with them for months, that he routinely shows up with one-page economic proposals that have barely changed. He's driving the owners loco in typical Donald Fehr fashion. They've clearly dug in and are done with it.
So regardless of what the players think of that first NHL proposal in July that clawed back on a ton of their rights, the owners feel they've moved to 50/50 without Fehr coming toward them. They feel Fehr's done a masterful job getting them to renegotiate that initial proposal without getting anything of substance from Fehr.
They say they don't know what Fehr wants with the main contractual changes other than no changes at all, ... and that is not going to happen. The owners are clearly done playing games until Fehr shows up with an actual full proposal. When that happens, the owners indicate they'll do some give and take. Let's hope that's true because the players are being asked to absord all the burden for a CBA the past seven years that was supposed to repair the economic system in the NHL.
Despite the league canceling a season to get that CBA, that clearly didn't happen and the league is back for me.
So again, whether the players feel the owners are being fair or not (and it's debatable), this is the reality now. If the players want the lockout to end, if they want to play again, they must get Fehr to show up to the next meeting with something that makes the owners feel he's negotiating and compromising.
Then, it's on the owners.