Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 07/25/12 at 12:44 AM ET
The NHL and NHLPA got down to discussing a contentious issue today in discussing player discipline during their meetings in Toronto, as NHL.com’s Dave Lozo notes…
“We’ve had good discussions across the table,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said after the three-hour session. “I think the lines of communication have been good. The ‘temperature in the room’ has been good. The process continues.”
Neither [NHLPA executive director Donald] Fehr nor Bettman would elaborate on what was discussed Tuesday, but Fehr also indicated the communication has been good.
“The principal topic was issues relating to discipline and there was a good exchange of views on all kinds of areas,” Fehr said. “I think, like a lot of subjects, this is one that will come up in future negotiating sessions. I’m not going to get into the specifics of what was talked about or anything like that at this stage. It wouldn’t be productive for the process.”
The NHL was represented by Commissioner Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Senior Executive V.P. of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, Senior V.P. of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan, V.P. of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Damian Echevarrieta, Managers of Player Safety Rob Blake and Stephane Quintal, Carolina President and GM Jim Rutherford, Toronto President and GM Brian Burke, and legal counsel.
The NHLPA was represented by Fehr, Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider, legal counsel, and 10 players: Matt Beleskey (Ducks), Kevin Bieksa (Canucks), Chris Campoli (unrestricted free agent), David Clarkson (Devils), B.J. Crombeen (Lightning), Jay Harrison (Hurricanes), Steve Montador (Blackhawks), Derek Joslin (Canucks), Kris Versteeg (Panthers) and Daniel Winnik (Ducks).
“It’s no secret that [player discipline] is an issue which has sparked a lot of discussion among players and the way we framed it is we want to discuss these issues with the owners and we’ll see what comes out of that,” Fehr said. “I really don’t want to go beyond that at this point.”
And things might get even more contentious soon, because, as the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts notes, Bettman’s role as the ultimate arbiter of NHL justice…
However, it is known the players would like to change at least one thing about the current system: Bettman is the only person who handles appeals for suspensions or fines. There has been talk for several years about establishing an independent sounding board for such appeals.
Will give way to something much more substantial soon:
Donald Fehr thinks a counter-proposal is coming soon from the NHL Players’ Association in the labour negotiations with the NHL owners but he does not want to commit to a date.
“I doubt that it will be weeks plural,” Fehr said Tuesday in answer to the question after a three-hour meeting between the sides in Toronto. “Could be it be two? Yeah, it could be two. It could be less. I can’t tell you.”
Fehr, the union’s executive director, and a group of players met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly and several NHL executives at the NHLPA offices. They will meet again Wednesday and Thursday and then reconvene next week in New York for more discussions about a new collective agreement to replace the one that expires Sept. 15.
When the NHL made its first offer, the owners demanded a 22-per-cent rollback in the players’ share of the revenue by chopping their take from 57 per cent to 46 and by re-defining hockey-related revenue to make it smaller than the current amount. The league also demanded an end to salary arbitration, an increase a player’s eligibility for unrestricted free agency from seven years to 10 and contract limits of five years.
The union asked for more financial information from the NHL after its first offer and Fehr said the league is still preparing some of it. Once the union gets all of the information and then analyzes it, a counter-offer will be in the works.
That means a little more time spent dissecting the proposal to get a sense of what the NHL might be receptive to, as the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston found Fehr suggesting…
“They’ve indicated that they’re in the process of compiling it and will get it to us,” he said. “In addition to looking hard at what they’ve given us and doing our own work, we’re going to have to look at that additional information before we get to the stage of making a proposal of our own, making a counter-proposal or doing something else.”
Serious negotiations won’t begin until that happens.
On Tuesday, the three-hour session at NHLPA headquarters largely centred around how the league handles discipline. Brendan Shanahan, the league’s disciplinarian, was in attendance along with Colin Campbell, Rob Blake and Stephane Quintal—all members of the hockey operations staff. Veteran Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford and Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke also took part. The union’s delegation included 10 players, four of which—Chris Campoli, B.J. Crombeen, Steve Montador and Daniel Winnik—are part of its negotiating committee.
So far, both sides have described the talks as amicable.
“We’ve had good discussions across the table,” said Bettman. “I think the lines of communication have been good, the temperature in the room has been good. And so the process continues.”
And going forward—for now—Chairman Mao believes things will be settled without a lockou…I mean “work stoppage”:
“We think that if everybody works hard, we can get the job done in the appropriate time frame,” said Bettman.
“I’m not going to place odds on it,” he added. “I’m focused on making a deal, not on what might happen if we don’t.”
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