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All Donald Fehr

from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,

With the NHL lockout in its third week, THN spoke to NHLPA executive director Don Fehr for a wide-ranging interview on the negotiating process and the road ahead. Here is a transcript of that interview.

The Hockey News: I realize all your negotiations with Major League Baseball in previous years have been different animals, but what stands out for you about this current negotiation, both positively and negatively?

Don Fehr: The positive is really easy – it’s the players. They are involved, they are committed, they participate, they understand, and in the end, they’re making the decisions. That’s why we have conference calls with the full negotiating committee and the full board. That’s why we have meetings in which we invite about 50 people – the negotiating committee and the executive board – and more than 285 players show up. So that has been the single-best thing about this for me, because this is their organization, their contracts and their futures. That’s why you’re in it, because you want to help them.

The negative I guess, can basically be that this negotiation is seemingly just following the pattern of all the (salary) capped sports. The entire position seems to be that this is concessionary bargaining, and as a matter of natural law or the way the universe is ordered somehow, the players should be willing to take severe reductions in their compensation and not have a free market for their salaries and not be able to go look for a job as you, or I or anyone else in the Western World can, and it has to be that way. And the only point in the negotiation is how far/how fast are players going to make concessions.


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gusoline's avatar

Key comment for me:

And if you follow what’s happened in the capped sports, part of the problem from a player’s standpoint is that the basic view is, whatever the circumstances are, if the owners’ position is, ‘Let’s lock out and see if they’ll give us some more,’ it really doesn’t matter what your agreement is.

With their initial offer, the owners pretty much said this.  It doesn’t hurt the great majority of them to lock out the players so they figure ´Why not? maybe I’ll make an extra couple (or ten or hundred if you are MLSE) million per year if we can get this.´

And for all of you saying that the players make an obscene amount of money compared to teachers, or firemen, you are right,  they do - because of you.  So either stop with the hypocrisy and start a THL or an FHL or accept the fact that you value sports over these professions.  The players don’t set ticket prices, what they do is to try and sell their services at the highest value the market will bear.  If you didn’t pay the ticket prices set by the owners, and the owners didn’t raise salaries to try and get the best product so they can rise ticket prices higher, the players would be playing beer league hockey somewhere because most of them actually love the game - something that can’t be said for most owners.

Why anyone would side with the billionaires in this fight simply amazes me.


Posted by gusoline on 10/03/12 at 08:21 PM ET


Look, this issue is pretty simple.  The owners don’t want to give the players 57% of the pie.  The players don’t want to give up their 57% of the pie.  All the other stuff is fine print, window dressing, and mostly meaningless.

So, if someone thinks that the players in a league should be entitled to 57% of that leagues revenues… well, there you go.

Personally, I think a 50-50ish split is more than fair considering the risks and investments on both sides.  This is why I don’t think the owners are being particularly greedy, per se.

I mean, the owners willingness to lose an entire season should sort of clue people in that the financials in the NHL are out of whack, right?  The people who are NHL owners didn’t get to the point where they could own a hockey team by being cavalier with their cash.

Further, the lack of people who actually want to be NHL owners ought to be a second hint that the league, as currently constructed, has some financial shortcomings.  The Coyotes have been league owned for, what, almost two years now?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/04/12 at 06:53 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Further, the lack of people who actually want to be NHL owners ought to be a second hint that the league, as currently constructed, has some financial shortcomings.  The Coyotes have been league owned for, what, almost two years now?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/04/12 at 06:53 AM ET

Exactly, but that is an argument that there is something wrong in the overall model, it isn’t strictly a revenue split issue.

Both sides need to move toward the middle, for sure. A tiered approach that moves toward a 50/50 split over the course of a few years, thus not requiring salary rollbacks on existing contracts, with increased revenue sharing (ideally via a luxury tax), is a fair compromise that would fix the underlying issues with the league’s model and would feature all factions getting something for their concessions (big markets get the ability to flex their muscle in their payroll, small markets get more revenue sharing dollars to keep their clubs profitable, players finally see an end to the cycle of givebacks and labor strife).

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 10/04/12 at 10:33 AM ET

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