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August 13, 2012 | 9:24pm ET
NHLPA set to present League with "alternative view"
The NHLPA is poised to pitch its own proposal to the NHL on Tuesday, one that illustrates "how the players see the world."

TORONTO, ON -- Following another sit down between the NHL and the NHLPA on Monday afternoon in Toronto, both PA head Don Fehr and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the media.

Fehr had a bit more to say, though it was clear that those in attendance (myself included) were more interested in picking away at what should be revealed in the coming days, if not hours, after the Players present their proposal tomorrow morning towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"What we expect to do tomorrow is to put forth an 'alternative view' as to what we should do next. That's about the best way I can put it," Fehr said. "Unless something unusual happens tonight, in terms of our preparation."

The NHLPA isn't expected to acknowledge much, if any, of the NHL's initial proposal, though Fehr did confirm that they have made "a series of responses to (the NHL) as to what our reactions to their proposal are."

Fehr indicated that tomorrow's proposal isn't a counter-proposal, per se. "It's a bit of a different kind of an approach. It's how the Players see the world."

I've spoken to several players over the last few weeks and the mindset from most is that we're in for a bit of a battle. Like all of us, most NHLers will joke -- often half-heartedly -- about their September plans unrelated to hockey, if a new CBA isn't reached by Sept 15. But as they joke, you clearly hear the concern in their voices. They want to play, they just refuse to roll over.

Let's be clear: The Players weren't insulted by the NHL's first offer, despite how various media outlets spun the news. They were more surprised the League was willing to kick-start the process in the manner in which they did.

As Fehr indicated, negotiations could have started sooner.

"This is a process, which is ongoing," he said. "It's taken day-by-day. The process is to work at it every day, until you find a way to come to an understand and to make an agreement. If that day's tomorrow, that's fine. If it's three weeks from now, that's fine. I just hope it's sooner, rather than later. But I'm out of the prediction business."

Tomorrow, the players -- as many as 25 of them, which should include the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin -- will meet together before the NHL jumps in the mix. Many fans question why it's taken the NHLPA one month to retaliate, but the answer is simple.

"First of all, we had to analyze (the NHL's proposal)," Fehr said. "You don't turn around proposal for which measure the cost in the billions of dollars over night; not if you're going to do your due diligence and be appropriately professional in representing your constituents.

"We have been, and continue to be, in the process of digesting and trying to understand the various pieces of financial information that we have received from the owners. And that takes time."

Bettman wasn't willing to tip his hand as to the League's stance on the PA's upcoming proposal, but seemed pleased by today's proceedings.

"Well, there have been a lot of things discussed in the room that will stay in the room, but we thought it was a good idea for the union to understand all of the initiatives and how we operate the business at the League level," he said.

"I'm interested, very interested (to see what the NHLPA brings forward). We'll have to wait and see. I'm not going to try and speculate as to what they're going to present tomorrow. I have no idea."

Bettman seemed uncertain as to what may be put in front of him and the League tomorrow, as Fehr and his members weren't giving him any clues.

"I'm not sure I understand what an 'alternative view' is," Bettman said. "We'll wait and see what's presented, and we'll respond appropriately."

Fans and the media made plenty of noise last week when the Commish confirmed that the players will be locked out if Sept. 15 reaches without a new agreement. Bettman didn't feel the announcement, which surprised nobody in the NHLPA, altered the mood of the negotiations.

"I don't think so," he said. "Today's session was characterized as 'enjoyable.' There was a sub-committee meeting on Friday, which was business as usual, cooperative, cordial. I don't think there's been any change at all."

Fehr, however, noticed a slight modification.

"The tone, in a sense, I suppose is a little different given that backdrop and the starkness with which it was delivered," he said. "On the other hand, each meeting takes its own course and you go day-by-day. It's all you can do."

Expect a lot more to change tomorrow after the NHLPA makes its proposal. Come noon ET on Tuesday, after the pitch has been made, things could get a whole lot better, or a whole lot worse.

Either way, it'll be the first time we officially come to realize how serious the Players' Association is.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.


 

 

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