Donald Fehr

Fehr has a few issues with the NHL’s new offer


Despite the public’s positive reaction and the general renewal of optimism that the NHL’s season may be saved, nobody really expected the NHLPA to fall madly in love with the league’s new offer presented Tuesday that proposed a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue (HRR).

And according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the NHLPA didn’t.

In a letter to the players, union executive director Donald Fehr wrote that the offer “still represents enormous reductions in player salaries and individual contracting rights. As you will see, at the 5 per cent industry growth rate the owners predict, the salary reduction over six years exceeds $1.6 billion. What do the owners offer in return?”

That last part has been a rallying cry of sorts for Fehr. “What’s in it for the players?” he’s asked in the past, suggesting it can’t be all concessions by the union.

Fehr’s letter to the players also raises other potential sticking points:

—- How the NHL plans to define HRR. The league wants to “clarify” it. What does that mean?

—- The “make whole” provision by which the NHL will reimburse players currently under contract for whatever they lose in absolute dollars in Year 1 and Year 2 of the agreement. To accomplish that, the players will receive deferred compensation over the remaining years of their contracts and – here’s the key part – the deferred compensation “will be chargeable against” the players’ split of HRR.

Fehr has a problem with that, since all it would mean is “players paying players, not owners paying players. That is, players are ‘made whole’ for reduced salaries in one year by reducing their salaries in later years.”

—- On supplemental discipline, the NHL’s offer to introduce a neutral third-party arbitrator so that players can appeal. Fehr has an issue with the “clearly erroneous” standard of review (i.e. it’s obvious to the arbitrator that Brendan Shanahan made a mistake), which he believes will make it “very unlikely that any decision would be overturned.”

The players could make a counter-proposal later this week — the two sides are meeting Thursday — at which point we’ll know how strongly they feel about the above issues.

Related: Just like that, all the pressure’s on the NHLPA

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?