A day after there was optimism for the first time in weeks that the season could finally commence, the NHLPA and Don Fehr threw some water on those hopes. Upon quick review, the anticipated eagerness to use the NHL proposal as a jumping off point for a deal hasn’t materialized.
While I didn’t for a second expect the NHLPA to accept the offer as is, I certainly thought that it made a lot of sense in many places and not, as Fehr said in his initial press release:
Simply put, the owners’ new proposal, while not quite as Draconian as their previous proposals, still represents enormous reductions in player salaries and individual contracting rights.
Think the method of the league guaranteeing the value of in force contracts is unique, and although not the preferred method for the players in terms of getting paid, represents a serious departure from the rollback that was initially on the table. I understand the players wanting interest on the portions that are deferred, but seriously, how much of that money does a player really need at the moment?
The NHL made a calculated move by releasing to the public the contents of their proposal, but doing so has its benefits and drawbacks. Gary Bettman is on record admonishing the NHLPA for “negotiating in public”, and this turns its back on that sentiment. However, in the eyes of public relations, it has swayed many opinions as to who is to blame for the impasse. I have been very outspoken in support of the players, and the concessions they made last time around building some credit. However, this proposal puts the onus on the players to move closer to the middle now that the league has made the first move. If they don’t, they risk being looked at as even more the spoiled millionaires playing a kids game than they already do.
The next couple of days will go a long way to determining if there will be hockey on November 2nd, or if the league is really at risk of losing the entire season. After this move by the owners, I’m not sure there is an individual-between any more.