Tuesday, 9 October 2012

NHL lockout: Donald Fehr says players are growing unhappy with salary cap

NHL lockout: Donald Fehr says players are growing unhappy with salary cap
Kevin McGran Sports Reporter
Donald Fehr expressed some hope that collective bargaining talks this week will help lead to some resolution.
But he also made it clear in an hour-long meeting with the Toronto Star’s Editorial Board that the longer the NHL lockout lasts, the less happy the players will be playing under a salary cap.
“If this goes on for an extended period of time, I don’t know what they (the players) are going to do. But I think it’s safe to say, they would be exploring all options,” said Fehr.
He added the players can live with salary cap if an agreement can be reached quickly.
“Where the players are, they want to make a deal,” Fehr said. “Even though the owners’ proposal went as far away from the players as they could, the players did not respond in kind. They made a proposal which moved in the owners’ direction. If there can be an agreement in a relatively short term, which puts the pieces back together and gets the season going, I think the players can live with that.”
Fehr is scheduled to be in New York on Wednesday, when the league and the players’ association are to resume talks on non-core economic issues, things like pensions and medical benefits.
“I hope we can continue to make some progress on what we call the non-core economic issues and I hope we can have discussions that can spark a new round of significant talks on the core economic issues,” said Fehr. “Whether that will happen, I can’t predict. But I hope it does.”
The NHL has publicly said it wants the players to return to the bargaining table with a new proposal, but the NHL wants the proposal on its terms: that the PA must accept some kind of rollbacks in Year 1 of the deal.
Fehr says he has “ideas” regarding a new proposal, but none include rolling back salaries.
“Maybe we should make a simple proposal that the starting point ought to be, maybe the players and owners each live up to the letter of the individual contracts,” said Fehr. “I don’t think that would meet with a very good response in Gary’s office. But it’s not a bad thought.
The first two weeks of the season are already cancelled and time is winding down to the when the league may announce another round of cancellations. Fehr said he hoped the season would start soon.
“In basketball (the NBA locked out its players last season) they played 75, 80 per cent of the season starting as late as Christmas. I do hope we start many weeks before Christmas,” said Fehr, declining to predict when he thought the NHL season might begin.
“After some of my experiences in baseball, I’m out of the prediction business. I don’t think I’m any better at it that anybody else. All I can say is: You try every day. You hope and you hope it starts just as soon it possibly can.”
Fehr spent a great deal of his time explaining why salary caps in the NFL, NBA and NHL are little more than poorly managed micro-economies while the revenue-sharing world of Major League Baseball — one he helped create — has led to labour peace, league profitability and rising values of franchises.
“Baseball has become stable, hockey has lost more games than the other sports combined,” said Fehr. “Baseball is growing rapidly and its franchise values are growing enormously rapidly. I don’t think the two are unrelated.”

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