Another day closer to wiping out the NHL season-openers, and beyond. That’s the theme in my piece on newsday.com and later, in the paper. Unfortunately, both sides seem unwilling to budge philosophically and financially.
Here’s a lot more from first, Bill Daly, and then Donald Fehr today, each from their separate HQs:
Daly: “Today wasn’t overly encouraging. It goes back to us really tackling the main issues to see if we have some traction toward a middle ground; we’re looking for a long-term deal that’s fair to players and fair to teams. I would imagine we’ll be in touch, see if it makes sense to meet. ”
Daly on a mediator: “A mediator can only be helpful if both sides are willing to embrace it. We haven’t ruled out that possibility. We have a federal mediator in Washington who would be prepared…but you usually only need a mediator if you’re not understanding each other, and I don’t think we have a lack of communication. There are certain types (of negotiations) that are appropriate.”
Fehr on a mediator: “I’ve actually had that conversation with Gary; it was if he thought that the addition of a third party… would be helpful, and if it would be something we should consider. There hasn’t been any further discussion. We’re not averse to getting help from anybody that we think might be helpful.”
Fehr: “The central problem we have on the big issues is not difficult to describe. They came in with an initial proposal that was onerous, difficult; some players think it was inflammatory. I happen to agree; when you come in and want to reduce salaries 24 percent across the board, and then want to eliminate all the favorable contracting rules, and we ask “Is there some gesture you can make in how you can limit some other costs?’ and they don’t respond to that. They say ‘Well, we made some moves.’ They were incremental moves after an initial proposal that was very regressive. The single question I get asked most by players is pretty basic. “What do we get out of this?’ Much lower salaries and many fewer contracting rights. That makes an agreement reasonably difficult.”
“Spin is really important to them. They know how regressive their first one was, they know what the dynamic is. They characterize the moves we make as insubstantial when we don’t think they are.”
“More than 50 players were on the (conference) call Monday….players understand where they are, they’re comfortable with the proposals we made… They are not at all happy with the notion that at this stage, with all the concessions made the last time, in the billions of dollars, plus seven years of record revenues, that the response seems to be “You gave us a bunch of money last time, so give us another big sackful of money this time.”
“The owners have been signing players to individual contracts all over the place, yet, the proposals they have made say they effectively want to rewrite those contracts.”
“I had a couple conversations (with Gary) and I expect to have another one today, if not, tomorrow….I choose to believe that they would like to make a deal because if I didn’t it would be very difficult to do the job.”
“From our standpoint, you ought to be continually talking, even if you’re disagreeing and not making progress, because you never know when somebody’s going to say something and spark an idea that will allow you to lead to progress and if you’re not doing well on subject a, then subjects b, c and d, we ought to be talking about those as much as possible….Potentially you need to do this in pieces. There is a notion that if you can agree on a structure, it’s easier to fit in the puzzle pieces.”
On replacement players: “It’s not an idea I’ve heard. I think if they thought there were another 750 players that could play at this level, the guys that are currently in the league wouldn’t be there.”
Finally, this from Steve Fehr, NHLPA special counsel: “We had a good discussion, there did seem to be a little bit of unhappiness on the owners’ side of the table as to why aren’t we hurrying a little bit more, to which our response is, more or less, “You’re the ones who rushed into the lockout.” Fehr said talks could resume at any time and possibly in Toronto later in the week or on the weekend.