NHLPA set to present League with
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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.