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Fehr: Owners got “enormous concessions” from players last time, didn’t fix issues


After Gary Bettman offered his take on the NHLPA’s collective bargaining proposal, union boss Donald Fehr followed with a stance of his own.

“Think about something — I just leave you with this,” Fehr told reporters. “This is an industry in which the owners insisted upon and got enormous concessions from the players last time, with the stated expectation it would fix things.

“Their position now is it didn’t fix things. Okay…so the question then becomes, ‘What do you do about that?’ And from the players standpoint, it doesn’t necessarily follow ‘Well okay, players get paid a lot less.'”

It was a telling quote, mostly because the NHLPA’s proposal was lauded for its concessions, especially when it came to hockey related revenue.

But is that really the case?

Consider this piece from Sportsnet’s Michael Grange. He took a deeper look at the NHLPA offer and referred to it as a wolf in sheep’s clothing:

By having the deal the players are proposing reset, whereby in the fourth year of it the CBA “snaps back” to what they have in place now — a 57 per cent share of HRR — that number becomes the starting point for negotiations four years from now, which is far better than the 43.3 per cent they’d be trying to protect next time around if the owners get their way.

It’s a clever mechanism to maintain the status quo, and Fehr should be congratulated for thinking outside that ever-shrinking box.

Unfortunately, the owners want that box to keep shrinking and they want to cut their No. 1 expense: player salaries.

Fehr’s proposal doesn’t do that in what the owners would define as a meaningful way and sets the stage for player costs staying much higher than the owners want for the foreseeable future.

From where the owners are sitting, the deal the players are offering comes cloaked in the spirit of compromise but has some very sharp teeth.

Gary Bettman will cry “wolf,” and he will be right.

If nothing else, today’s meeting suggested negotiations are now truly underway.

With just a month left ’til the CBA expires.


Bettman on NHLPA proposal: “The sides are far apart and have different views of the world”

Stamkos on CBA negotiations: “We just want a fair deal”

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.