Thursday, July 19, 2012
NHL labor talks continue in N.Y.
By Katie Strang
NEW YORK -- The NHL and NHL Players' Association met for the second day in a three-day period of labor talks Thursday, with discussions centering on how the league's current proposal would impact player contracts.
That proposal, submitted by the NHL last Friday, was reported to include salary rollbacks, five-year term limits and an extended entry-level contract system along with the elimination of front-loaded deals and the salary arbitration process altogether.
The league was asked to detail how such practices would affect players on two levels -- as individuals and as an aggregate.
"We met for two hours, give or take, and spent most of the day discussing the owners' proposal mostly as it related to how their proposals could change player contracts and would have meaningful effects," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said outside league offices in midtown Manhattan. "And it's fair to say that discussion focused in no small part on what would happen to players if the scenario of their proposal was adopted."
Fehr also confirmed that recent contracts would be prohibited in such a proposal. For example, the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet that restricted free agent Shea Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night came up in the discussion.
"I will tell you this: That was a subject that did come up briefly today, not at length," Fehr said. "I've always viewed that as long as there's no collusion or anything involved, that, taking into account the system, the contract speaks for itself, in terms of what people should be doing.
"You'll have to ask them why they want to modify the system to prevent that kind of choice. I'll let them speak for themselves."
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the issue was a point of discussion and said the topic was brought up in a "lighthearted way."
Daly declined to discuss the specifics of the league's proposal and how it was received but said the two sides had constructive dialogue, specifically with regards to player contracts.
"Each side had interesting views and theories and projections and predictions, and we hashed it through," Daly said. "That's what bargaining is about, and I think it was a good discussion."
When asked about the limited amount of time to strike a deal before the current CBA expires Sept. 15, Daly expressed optimism a new agreement could be forged.
"I think there's more than enough time to reach a deal," he said. "We just have to keep at it."
Fehr also said some of the information requests submitted by the NHLPA are still pending and that they expect to receive those soon.
The two sides will meet for a third consecutive day Friday, although the NHLPA is not expected to make a counter proposal before the meetings head back to Toronto next week.