“We did not get a proposal from the union,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman following the brief two-hour meeting between the NHL and NHLPA in the ongoing discussions surrounding the expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement. The commissioner called the NHLPA’s sentiments simply a “response” to the economic issues the two sides find themselves at a standstill about, and was visibly, I’m going to use the word annoyed, at the outcome of today’s meeting.
Executive Director of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, is standing firm with his earlier short-term (three years with and optional fourth) proposal, and believes the area for negotiation lies in the details of the economics of the fourth year of the CBA, possibly reducing the player shares of hockey-related revenues below the current 57 percent.
“No we’re not budging,” was Bettman’s way of describing the negotiations from Fehr’s side today, who had hoped the NHLPA would find interest in the ‘phase-in’ framework of a decrease in HRR player shares. Amidst the NHL’s frustration at not seeing any forward progress out of a much anticipated Friday afternoon, Fehr remained positive, reminding the press that these negotiations are going to be “one day at a time, if it doesn’t work out today, then you try and figure out something different tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and you keep that up until you find a way to make an agreement.”
“Obviously we’re not going to be in a position to bid against ourselves,” said Bettman, who maintained that no real counterproposal had been made today in response to the NHL’s last offer on Tuesday. A disappointed Bettman said the owners are more than willing to open up negotiations, but until the NHLPA is willing to move forward on the economics, there is not much else to discuss.
After their proposal Tuesday, the NHL was positive that they had laid framework to take a meaningful step forward in these negotiations, with Bettman eager to get everyone speaking the same language. It’s clear that after today’s meeting these two sides are farther than we thought from reaching any kind of agreement anytime soon, let alone before the expiring CBA deadline of September 15.