NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Players bracing for lockout

Realize it is a very realistic possibility at this point

  • Print

NHL player's union boss Donald Fehr said Friday the players are prepared for the eventuality of an owners' lockout if a new collective bargaining agreement can't be reached.

Fehr wrapped up a meeting held over parts of two days with about 40 players at a hotel outside of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The union will hold similar informational meetings next week in Kelowna, B.C. and Toronto.

Fehr said it's no surprise for players to hear about the possibility of a lockout, especially since both the NFL and NBA have recently weathered shutdowns.

Players are not surprised and fully understand what the ramifications of a work stoppage would mean, since most of them either lived through or have teammates who were playing when the NHL shut down in 2004, he said.

"It was interested. It was focused. It was sobered," Fehr said, describing the tone of the meetings.

"Players understand what is going on, understand what the issues are and understand how the owners' proposal will affect them, understand how this compares to what happened seven years ago. ... understand that this will affect their lives if we can't find a way through this in the immediate future."

The league wants the players to give up a significant amount of salary to stabilize the industry while the union maintains that goal would be best accomplished with the wealthy teams doing more to help their struggling counterparts.

Fehr is scheduled to resume formal discussions with the league Aug. 22.

When that starts, the league and the union will have just 24 days left to reach a new agreement and avoid a lockout. The current CBA runs out on Sept. 15 -- by which time commissioner Gary Bettman wants a deal in place. The regular season is set to start Oct. 11.

The entire 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout and then the players eventually accepted a 24 per cent rollback on salaries and a cap. Despite the wide philosophical gap between the two sides, Fehr said there is still time to reach an agreement.

"If there is a mutual will to get this done, if we can find a common platform around which to construct an agreement, then obviously there is plenty of time in which to do that," he said.

"Unfortunately, what you saw in the last two negotiations in football and basketball, and can be argued what happened in hockey in 2004, is that the lockout was the strategy of first choice, not the strategy of last resort," Fehr continued.

"I hope that's not true this time, but time will tell. Having said that, when Gary says it's much more preferable to get a deal done before Sept. 15, we agree with him."

Phoenix Coyotes right-wing David Moss said the players are prepared and have discussed all eventualities.

"The league are the ones saying that if we don't come to a decision. ... The players are still very optimistic and hopeful that things will get done on time, and we're working in that fashion," said Moss, who played last season with the Calgary Flames.

"The players are preparing (as if) there's going to be a season; they do all the things leading up to that until we're told otherwise."

Under the owners' proposal, the players' share in revenue would be cut from 57 per cent to 43 per cent and would include a change to the way the salary cap is calculated. Instead of being set at US$8 million above the midpoint, the upper limit would be reduced to $4 million above. As a result, the salary cap would drop to $50.8 million next season, which is below where the floor currently rests.

The league also called for the elimination of salary arbitration, contract limits of five years (with equal money paid each year, essentially eliminating signing bonuses) and 10 years of service before unrestricted free agency kicks in.

The NHLPA estimated the league's proposal would cost players approximately $450 million per season.

Fehr designed his own system, including an expanded revenue-sharing plan that would see the wealthy teams distribute more than $250 million per season to the ones having financial struggles.

"One of the things the players asked me," Fehr said, "is, 'Why did we give them what we did the last time if this was going to be the result this time?'"

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2012 C2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Lindor Reynolds speaks candidly about life with terminal cancer

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009
  • A goose flys defensively to protect their young Wednesday near Kenaston Blvd and Waverley -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 16 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the biggest disappointment on the Jets to start the season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google