Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 12/08/12 at 02:18 AM ET
Via the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford had a very intriguing conversation with St. Louis Blues captain David Backes regarding the meetings that went weird in NYC this week, and Backes offered the following take on what happened when the Donald Fehr entered the proceedings:
While the league may not be “scared” of the union leader, owners are certainly fearful of the path on which he’s leading players. That’s why after two successful days of negotiations with Bettman and Fehr out of the room, owners told players that Fehr’s inclusion Thursday would be a deal-breaker.
“That was very confusing to a lot of the guys,” Backes said. “Don and (assistant director Steve Fehr), they are the people we chose to represent us. We’re not well-educated businessmen; we’re hockey players. We expressed our views, had some phenomenal discussions with the owners. But we’re not billion-dollar businessmen that cut deals in boardrooms all the time. That’s why we’ve hired Don Fehr.”
On Thursday, when Fehr returned to the room, only Daly and league attorney Bob Batterman were in the room to hear the union’s response.
“When you only see two of them, you think they’re not taking it very seriously and they don’t want a deal,” Backes said. “The money was agreeable by both sides, the pension was agreeable by both sides. What was keeping this deal from being signed, sealed and delivered was how long an individual player contract could be, what the variance in that contract could be and how long the term of the (agreement) was going to be.
“You’re telling me that we’re going to blow up the season, blow up everything that we have in front of us, potential sponsorships and (tick) fans off more, for not being able to agree to those certain things. I just have a hard time believing it. Is that not close? You wonder why guys were getting antsy ... we thought the deal was done.”
Not yet, and perhaps not soon. After establishing legitimate hope earlier in the week, not even the players are sure there will be a hockey season.
“I wish I knew,” Backes said. “It’s very disappointing with how close we were with a week of good progress ending the way it did. But that’s their right to walk away and take things off the table. We have that same right too, but have chosen not to exercise it and try to get a deal done.”
Continued, and regardless of whether you agree with Backes, his outline of the players' stances on multiple CBA issues are articulate and measured.
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