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

50 Comments

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