- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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Both sides in the NHL’s labor impasse are a little gun shy with new proposals.
You have to think that will soon change, but there have been no new proposals tabled by either the NHL or the NHL Players’ Association since their dueling, rejected offers on Sept. 12.
The NHL has been front and center in saying the process won’t progress until the players bring forward a new proposal.
The NHLPA in return feels like it’s been the only side willing to compromise at all in any of its previous offers.
My sense, in speaking to various sources over the past few days, is that both sides, to a degree, are a little trepid to drop the next new offer for fear that the other side will simply pocket whatever compromise is included in that new offer and then use it as part of a future offer.
There’s history here.
When the NHLPA dropped a bombshell offer in December 2004 to roll back salaries 24 percent, the league indeed pocketed that juicy baby in every single version of its future proposals, and, when the lockout ended in 2005, the 24 percent rollback was part of the new CBA.
Hence, the trepidation, especially from the NHLPA, of moving too soon with more compromises in a new offer.
The players’ negotiating committee (60-plus players) held a conference call Monday in which NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, according to sources, chatted with them about the fact the league wanted a new offer. The sense on the call was that the players feel like they’re negotiating against themselves at this point if they make another offer soon.
The league, conversely, will tell you it is the only side that has tangibly changed its offer three times, while the players -- in the NHL’s view -- keep offering a similar version of the same deal.
Regardless of the rhetoric from both sides, the only thing that will change this stalemate is a new offer with real compromise.
I think one of the theories on the NHLPA side is that because there’s no meaningful financial pressure until November on the players -- due to the fact the players are getting escrow checks from last season this month -- the league and owners are simply waiting them out.
Hence, when is the right time to deliver the next proposal?
Tick tock ...
The league canceled two weeks’ worth of regular-season games Thursday, with more to come if bargaining talks remain at a standstill.
If and when there’s finally a new CBA, you can expect the NHL to try and cram as many games as possible into a schedule -- although not quite as crammed as the NBA made its schedule last season after its own lockout-shortened the year, the NHL cognizant of the safety factors for its players.
The 1994-95 NHL lockout-shortened season didn’t see a Stanley Cup awarded until June 24, and a source confirmed to ESPN.com that the NHL is comfortable using all of June to fit in a refitted schedule if need be.
More to Europe
With Claude Giroux now off to Berlin, that makes it four of the top five NHL leading scorers from last season taking their services overseas.
That leaves No. 2 point-getter Steven Stamkos (who led the NHL with 60 goals) still here in North America. For now ...
It also leaves the game’s top player still on this side of the ocean. Sidney Crosby has indicated an interest in playing overseas at some point in time depending on the how the lockout went.
"Sidney continues his training," his agent Pat Brisson of CAA Sports told ESPN.com on Thursday. "There hasn't been any indication for him heading to Europe, although we are entertaining conversations with teams and leagues overseas. If the lockout persists, the conversations might become more serious."
Meanwhile, Martin Brodeur told ESPN.com via text message Wednesday that he would likely wait until the end of the month before deciding whether or not to pursue opportunities to play in Europe. While it’s generally harder for a goalie to find a job, given the smaller amount of openings, you have to imagine teams overseas would be lining up to have a chance to dress the NHL’s all-time winningest goalie.
And finally, Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd isn’t going to the KHL after all. Omsk announced his signing, but Ladd had a change of heart because of family reasons. A source told ESPN.com that while he had agreed to terms, the deal was never finalized.
10hScott Burnside and Craig Custance