The NHL and NHLPA have no reason to waste time fighting over player contract rights because these issues, while important, aren't the major ones that should make or break CBA talks.
NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr spoke on this issue over the weekend (via Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press):
S. Fehr on contract issues in CBA negotiations: "It's hard to believe you're going to drive an industry's bus over the cliff for that."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 12, 2012
Some progress has been made on important economic issues such as the "make whole" provision and revenue sharing over the last week, so there's no reason for the league and its players to prolong this incredibly frustrating process just to take a stand against one another on contract issues.
Why be stubborn when both sides probably know how these issues are going to be resolved? Right now, the league is hoping the NHLPA makes a concession or two on player contract issues, but that's certainly not going to happen.
The league is just wasting everyone's time. Get back to the table and reach a compromise on these issues.
When the NHL made its absurd CBA proposal to start the negotiation process in July, it included term limits of five years (among other things related to player contract rights).
It would be very surprising if the NHL doesn't back off its desire for five-year term limits as well as many of the other contract changes that the owners wanted to make.
In fact, it would be surprising if any of the contract changes that the owners wanted in their initial offer are not negotiable. There's definitely room for both sides to compromise on all these issues.
Here's an update on these issues from Sunday's meeting (via Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):
Doesn't sound as if #CBA talks went well. Centered on player contract rights. NHL apparently won't budge on demands.— Shelly Anderson (@pgshelly) November 11, 2012
It's hard to imagine the league having the same mindset in a few weeks when the deadline to start the season on Dec. 1, or shortly thereafter, is quickly approaching.
The player contract issues aren't the major topics that the owners need to win, but the same cannot be said for the NHLPA.
Contract rights represent some of the most important issues for the players because they want to be properly paid for the contributions they make on the ice. The owners know this, so there's no reason to take a firm stand on these issues.
When will the two sides get back to the negotiating table? According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, that date is unknown:
Still nothing scheduled in terms of resuming bargaining at this point— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) November 12, 2012
If the 2012-13 regular season starts on Dec. 1, the NHL can play a 60-game schedule and even keep the All-Star Game, which is still scheduled for late January. Not losing this event would be a huge win for the Blue Jackets franchise and the city of Columbus.
Once the two sides realize that wasting time by making absurd demands regarding contract issues isn't productive, we will be much closer to a new CBA and the start of another season.
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