June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on stage at the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Today marks a huge event in the current NHL CBA negotiations. After over a month, the NHLPA is expected to finally give their counter offer to the NHL's original offer.
This marks a critical stage in the negotiations. For the past month, Donald Fehr has taken his time, sat down with the players, gone over the financial numbers from the NHL and has even met with the owners before coming up with the counter proposal the players are laying down today. To some, the length between offers is a major concern. To others, it shows that Fehr isn't interested in sending ludicrous proposals back and forth with the owners, and that he wanted to create a legitimate jumping-point for the negotiations to continue.
Join me after the jump for more.
Obviously we'll see which group is right (Fehr taking his time to make a quality offer, or the players taking their time to prove that this isn't 2004 and that they won't be bullied) once the proposal is made.
Here's the thing: the NHL is coming off a wildly productive year, the Los Angeles Kings rejuvenated a huge market with their Stanley Cup run, the playoffs had everything you could ever ask for (remember, controversy helps with the ratings) and things were really moving in a positive direction. Not only would a lockout completely stop the NHL's forward momentum, it would also do serious damage to a group of fans who went through a lockout just a few years ago.
Both sides know all of this. Gary Bettman and Fehr are well aware of the stakes that are currently sitting on the table. The pot has never been bigger, something that will end up being a double edged sword. On one hand, it would make another lockout that much more devastating, on the other hand, it might be enough to push both sides to realize that something absolutely has to get done before September 15th.
Fact of the matter is, it seems like Fehr is going about this the right way. Despite not making a counter proposal just yet, Fehr has met with the owners multiple times to go over all the pressure points of the current deal. Sometimes you have to massage these things out before you get anywhere. Fehr also seems to have made it a point to figure out where the biggest issues are for the owners as he built today's proposal.
No, I'm not expecting the deal put forth today to get accepted. Especially if the players propose a luxury tax. But today's negotiations might help bridge some of the major gaps between the two sides, as they look for a way to iron this thing out. I'm not saying all the details are going to be worked out, but if Fehr and the players give a legitimate offer back to the owners, then the two sides can move forward and start actually getting this thing worked out.
If, however, the deal the players give today is as lopsided as the owner's proposal was, then we might have to buckle in for a long ride. Hopefully that's not the case.
Only time will tell.