The National Hockey League and NHL Players Association met for their fourth consecutive day at their undisclosed location in New York City. Today's meetings consisted of three separate sessions which covered the core economics, player pensions, and player contractual issues. After the meetings concluded for the evening, there was a lot of negative vibes swirling around the media, and it was mainly aimed at Donald Fehr.
Several reports are claiming that the league has been discontent with Don Fehr since day one. They even accused him of "hiding/covering up" info from the players with the league's latest proposals on revenue sharing, and their "Make Whole" provision. However, how can this be entirely true at all? According to many of the players involved in the process, Fehr has been 100% informative, and the communications are at their best. Not to mention, they even have players representing the PA in the meeting rooms. Not sure how the league came up with that one, but it doesn't sound as if it has a solid base to it.
As for where we stand right now in the negotiations, the sides appear to be much closer than it is being portrayed to media and the fans. According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, the NHL has promised that it will honor all existing contracts as long as the players reduce their share to 50% immediately from the start. Russo also notes that to help compensate for the players immediate drop, the owners would have the players reduced shared deferred by one or two years.
However, while that is all fine and dandy, the players have brought up a very unrealistic demand with honoring their contracts. The NHLPA is looking for 100% of their salaries, no matter how many games are played this season. In other words, the players are looking to get paid for all 82 games this year, even though a full season will not be played. Instead of paying the players in full for a shortened season, the league would much rather prorate the contracts, which would compensate for the lost games.
The NHL also feels that both sides are where they want to be with the revenue sharing system that have been discussing for some time. And as Mike stated yesterday, a revenue sharing plan will stabilize the NHL, and allow all of it's clubs to benefit. So in reality, even though the media is portraying today's meeting as doom and gloom, it really isn't as bad as it seems.
The NHLPA is expected to have some internal meetings tomorrow morning, and will go from there. According to Donald Fehr, they expect meetings to pick back up tomorrow, but anything is possible at this critical point in negotiations.