5 things to learn from NHLPA meetings
June, 27, 2012
By Jesse Rogers | ESPN.com
CHICAGO -- NHLPA meetings wrapped up after three days of discussions in advance of the first negotiating session with the league set for later this week. Here are five things to know about the meetings attended by 56 players:
More players will be involved
Thirty-one players representing 19 teams will be on the negotiating committee, including veteran stars Shane Doan, Shea Weber, Henrik Zetterberg and Adrian Aucoin. All players in the league will be allowed to attend sessions at the cost of the union. Aucoin has been through two work stoppages and believes that this negotiation will have the most participation.
"The first, in 1994, was so long ago, guys didn’t have cellphones back then," Aucoin said. "It was a different world, we didn’t know much, there was no education about it. The last one, it was different. It was so new. Players didn’t know what to expect. There were so many unknowns."
Players aren’t revealing the main issues
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said Monday that the players wanted changes to the existing collective bargaining agreement, but after three days of meetings he refused to divulge what some of those changes are, including any major sticking points.
"I suspect the players will have a lot of suggestions and proposals to the owners for their consideration and discussion," Fehr said. "We owe it to the process to first discuss those matters with the rest of the players that are not here. And secondly, to broach them [the owners] across the table."
Player discussions biggest accomplishment
Instead of talking to just Fehr, players brought up different scenarios with one another, educating their peers on different issues facing them that might eventually affect others.
"Encouragement of discussion amongst each other was the biggest thing," Doan said. "There was a lot of discussion amongst each other ... players pointing out things you never thought of because it hasn’t been a situation you’ve had to deal with. But you could end up in that situation, so we need to talk about. The discussion was the biggest point [of the meetings].”
Players aren’t interested in giving much back
The union might use commissioner Gary Bettman’s own boasting against him. Bettman has often talked pridefully of the increased revenues the sport is generating from year to year. The union is more than happy to hear that.
"If revenues were flat as they were in 2004 ... everyone would understand we’d likely be having different discussions than since they’ve gone up 65 percent," Fehr said.
There can be hockey with no agreement
Fehr reiterated the point he made Monday. If both sides are still negotiating in good faith, even when the current agreement expires Sept. 15, training camps could open. That scenario has played out, Fehr said, in baseball when he was the union chief there.
"Players haven’t considered what they would do on Sept. 15 or any other date if no agreement is in place," Fehr said. "Our hope is it’s not anything we are going to have to be worried about. ... If parties are willing to negotiate, you continue to work under the old agreement until parties are not willing to do that."