CHICAGO -- After two days of meetings with players, NHLPA union boss Donald Fehr declared them as unified as ever. In fact, that’s been the case since last month.
"It took anyone that plays hockey about the time it took to read the [owners’] proposal to understand what it would mean to them," Fehr said after meetings wrapped up Friday. "Whatever lingering doubts there were that the players were not on the same page ceased to be there."
The players might be winning the public relations battle with the owners, but it’s not getting them any closer to a deal. The current collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15, and a lockout looms. About the only way a deal could get done from the players' perspective is if they develop amnesia -- they simply need to forget about what they gave the owners in 2004: An entire season was lost, salaries were rolled back and a salary cap was enacted.
"Hockey players have lived through or have teammates and friends who lived through the last lockout," Fehr explained. "They’ve heard about the owners’ lockout in 1994. They watched on television what happened with the football and the basketball players. ... The last thing the threat or a suggestion of a lockout is, is a surprise to the players. ... They understand how this compares to seven years ago and what the players gave up then."