*Musings & Opinions*
1. The egos were left at the door Tuesday night. That’s the main reason more than anything that we are finally seeing some traction made between the players and owners. Although a deal might still be at least 10-14 days away, maybe longer, both sides appear to finally see the light, showing a willingness to conduct actual serious negotiations. As talks remain “fragile”, let’s just hope the egos from either side don’t pop up again and derail the traction that’s being made. However, one individual on the league’s side still questioned that Don Fehr is ready to make a deal “just yet.”
2. Ron Burkle to no surprise made his presence made in Tuesday’s meeting and one player told me the issue for the players in these negotiations previously is that they just haven’t been able to relate to the owners. The likes of Jeremy Jacobs, Craig Leopold and Murray Edwards have come off as not trust worthy and the players felt everything was personal and one sided from pretty much the get-go with them. The player told me Burkle comes off as a person you feel comfortable around and he’s see things from both sides which impressed the players in the room yesterday.
3. While Burkle has been emerged as a voice of reason in talks, multiple people told me today the media is going a bit overboard about proclaiming Burkle, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins (behind the scenes) as saving the season if a deal gets done soon….. and others indicated it’s not fair to leave out other moderate owners like Jeff Vinik, among others, who had a very positive impact on the players in Tuesday’s meeting. “It was a collective effort,” an NHL source said.
4. A 10 year CBA deal? It might be wishful thinking. The owners are following the NFL’s angle in proposing a 10 year deal but the most logical length is probably going to be seven to eight years. The players have tried to hold firm on a short CBA deal, going from three years to four to five in their proposal from late November. Fehr has felt handcuffed by the NBA and NFL deals and Fehr has wanted to have the next CBA expiring before the NBA’s does. The players though are going to have to give in and go at least seven years.
5. Agents have felt the salary cap under the previous CBA pushed veterans (35+ older players) out of the game when they still had some hockey left in them and behind the scenes some prominent agents had been pushing for the NHLPA to aggressively push changes to the salary cap such as a veteran exemption for players 35 years or older, with teams being allowed to place the veteran exemption on one player and the team for example could pay the veteran $2.5 million and only take on a designated cap hit of lets say $1 million. Agents have sought NBA type exemptions but it doesn’t sound like the NHLPA has pursued scenarios like that aggressively.