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.