With lockout looming, Fehr lays out union’s position


“What would your reaction be in similar circumstances?”

That’s the question NHLPA boss Donald Fehr has for anyone who wonders why the players are refusing to accept what the owners are offering them.

Thursday in New York – with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist and Zdeno Chara standing symbolically behind him – Fehr detailed the union’s argument:

—- The players made “enormous concessions” to end the 2004-05 lockout. Since then, league revenues have grown 50 percent to $3.3 billion. And now the owners want to “see what else they can get.”

—- If the owners are intent on cutting expenses, there needs to be “shared sacrifice.” In other words, it can’t just be player salaries. (When asked what other expenses could be cut – coaching salaries? travel? – Fehr wouldn’t provide specifics.)

—- The players are willing to accept a diminishing share of revenues, but they want their current compensation protected. Translation: no pay-cuts.

—- Not only have the owners demanded salary concessions, they also want the players to surrender certain contractual rights (e.g. arbitration). “Less money, fewer rights” is how Fehr put it. So what’s in it for players? he wonders.

—- The players want a deal that “stabilizes this industry” and “gets us out of the cycle” of labor disputes. For that, the union believes there needs to be more revenue sharing. Fehr pointed to Major League Baseball as an example of a league that implemented extensive revenue sharing and hasn’t had a work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike. As such, he was “a little bit surprised” and “significantly disappointed” that the NHL hasn’t shown a willingness to go down that route.

Fehr said there have been no further developments since yesterday and, until one side has something new to say, talks aren’t likely to be productive.

The current CBA expires Saturday at 11:59 p.m. ET, after which the owners have said they’ll lock out the players.

Here’s the full presser: