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Schneider’s take on the league’s Fehr tactics

Immediately after the current lockout began, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and his NHLPA counterpart (albeit not in the collective bargaining department as he is not yet a sports labor lawyer), Mathieu Schneider, went on something of a sort of "charm offensives," chasing each other around the airwaves in the U.S. and Canada while stating and re-stating their respective sides' positions regarding the CBA war, and on Friday, Schneider spoke to the NHL on XM Sirius radio.

The Hockey News's Adam Proteau provides us with Schneider's side of the story after Thursday's press conferences for the ages, and Schneider believes that there is indeed a method to the league's particular brand of madness--a method that's rather ironic given that Schneider got involved with the NHLPA after Chris Chelios convinced him and other PA members that Ted Saskin was in fact a league stooge, installed (in Bob Goodenow's stead) by the NHL and certain consenting PA executive board members at the end of the 04-05 lockout:

“The conclusion I keep coming to is somehow the owners do not want to deal with Don,” Schneider said, “and that was obvious this past week, but I think it’s been the case throughout the negotiations. They come in with a take-it-or-leave it, walk away, they try to pressure the guys, they have other people, they have owners, GMs, coaches, calling guys, meeting them in the dressing room, telling them, ‘You better take this offer, it’s not going to get any better.’ ”

In the interview that took place on Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio early Friday afternoon, Schneider said that, despite the presence of new blood in the negotiating room – including Penguins majority owner Ron Burkle and Leafs owner Larry Tanenbaum – on Wednesday, the league’s position remained the same. Schneider also said the owners let the players know Fehr’s mere presence in the room was enough to derail talks.

“(NHL player and negotiating committee member) Ron Hainsey said to (league deputy commissioner) Bill Daly and (Calgary Flames owner) Murray Edwards, essentially, ‘We’re not deal-closers, we can’t finish this off. We’re very close, guys, let’s get in a room and work it out, but we’ve got to have Don and Steve and Mathieu and all of our staff in there, but we’re right here’,” Schneider said of Wednesday’s negotiating meetings, at which Fehr and league commissioner Gary Bettman were not present.  “And (owners) essentially said, ‘If Don’s in the room, it’s a deal-breaker.’ And I don’t know what you do with that. I don’t know how you work with that. They cannot tell us who should represent us. It’s like you’re buying a house and the seller says, ‘I’m not going to sell you the house if you don’t hire this realtor’. That’s essentially what they’re saying.”

Schneider said the message from owners hadn’t changed at all.

“It was a new cast of characters, but it was the same old story,” Schneider said of the talks. “It was a take-it-or-leave it offer and they walked out of the room. We had a counter-proposal ready for them. The owners wouldn’t even come and listen to it. They sent (NHL lead counsel) Bob Batterman and (deputy commissioner) Bill Daly. We’ve heard back that they essentially said they were not going to accept our proposal in the morning before they even knew what we were going to say. It’s typical. It’s exactly what they’ve done throughout this negotiation, and I hate to say we expected it, but we expected it.”

Schneider believes it’s important to remember what has been done up to this point.

“The new owners wanted to come in and say, ‘You know, we are where we are, let’s get this done, let’s forget how we got here,’ ” Schneider said. “And I think it was one of the (PA) guys in the meeting actually said, “Well, let’s not forget how we got here, guys. We have over $1 billion of concessions already on the table.’ So if you want to bridge that gap, that’s one thing, but remember, we’ve already come an awful long way to get this deal done.”

Schneider continues, and talks about the "moving goalposts"...

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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