NHL Lockout: Players' Association Resolve Is Strong, Unified Under Fehr

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NHL Lockout: Players' Association Resolve Is Strong, Unified Under Fehr
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As the NHL Lockout reaches a lifespan of almost a week, both sides are adamant on their positions. 

In other words, they're refusing to budge, as today marks what would've been the start of training camp for most teams, including the New York Rangers.

TSN's legal analyst Eric Macramella informed the masses yesterday of a NHLPA memorandum that made its way to all is members, outlining the latest details on their version of a CBA, among other aspects.

The bargaining stance is still the same. In the first three years of the CBA, the players would get $1.91 billion, $1.98 billion and $2.1 billion, which is a share of revenue of 54.3 percent, 52.5 percent and 52 percent, respectively. The fourth and fifth years would see the PA getting $2.1 billion, plus a 54 percent share.

The NHLPA has also proposed a team revenue sharing program by creating an Industry Growth Fund for struggling teams. It includes the Phoenix Coyotes, New York Islanders, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers automatically participating.

The telling part of the memorandum is Macramella's feelings of the NHLPA's resolve in this labor fight.

Via his article on TSN.ca

The memo is clear in its presentation and potentially complicated concepts are distilled nicely for player consumption. This is important for a Union that wants to ensure player unity and solidarity. Understanding competing proposals and their impact, may make it more likely that players will stay banded together.

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This memo is of course only the Union's side of things. Whatever the differences in interpretation of the issues, though, it does seem that there are areas of compromise to be had on the revenue sharing side. It also seems that the players are, for now, unified in their efforts, and prepared to follow Fehr's lead.

This doesn't indicate the NHLPA won't budge on their stance at some point. Back during the '04-05 lockout, there seemed to be no end in sight to the labor strife because the players wouldn't accept a salary cap, but eventually, the ranks caved and accepted.

Keep this in mind—Donald Fehr is no Bob Goodenow. He's well-versed in labor negotiations (look at his work with the MLB, which Fehr seems to mention at every press conference) and is steadfast in securing a deal that's beneficial to the members he represents. Gary Bettman knows this all too well. To him, Fehr is an unknown quantity, whereas Goodenow was a beatable adversary, and that should worry Bettman. 

The essential part of negotiations are compromises—what can both parties live with in their concessions to strike a deal? Can the NHLPA live with going from 57 percent share of HRR to a number closer to 50? Can the NHL come to terms with reality and cease asking for massive salary givebacks?

Time will tell. And the time might be quite a while before the final answer is known.

 

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