The biggest revelation from NHLPA head Donald Fehr’s comments was already covered: it’s possible that next season could start even if a new CBA isn’t in place. Still, Fehr shared some other observations with Brian Hedger that leaned heavily toward the optimistic.
“I’m not going to pre-judge it, but there’s plenty of time to negotiate an agreement between now and Sept. 15,” Fehr said. “They’re going to start very quickly after the end of our meeting on Wednesday.”
Fehr laid out the biggest factors that he expects to emphasize during the negotiations, whenever they may begin.
“From our standpoint, the starting point is that the players made tremendous concessions all the way around (last time). The second item that comes to mind is that the game generates a lot more revenue than it did before,” Fehr said. “You put those two things together, it ought to point you in a direction where this negotiation should go.”
Those are reasonable points, yet the owners are likely to ask for the same thing as the players: a bigger piece of the pie.
The NHL doesn’t have the same system-altering debates such as the institution of a salary cap coming up, but money can still be a huge sticking point. While league-wide revenues are up, there are plenty of smaller budget teams who will want changes (most obviously in the form of a relaxed salary cap floor).
Many hope that Fehr’s comments about Sept. 15 not being a “magic date” ring true and the two sides start hammering things out soon. That expiration date is dangerously close to early October, putting training camp and perhaps regular season games in serious peril.
The players seem serious about being more involved this time around, which is probably mostly a good thing. Still, most fans and observers just want everyone involved to get something done – and as soon as possible.