CBA talks remain at a stalemate going into this week with no expectations of any breakthrough’s happening.
The NHL on Friday cancelled all games through November and it was expected that the league would cancel the Winter Classic and All-Star game as early as Tuesday but that might be on hold for now due to Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast and NHL offices being closed for the next couple days.
Regarding talks, nothing has changed from the stance that the ball is in the players court.
The owners have all the leverage (as they’ve always had) and we’re not going to see a new CBA in place until the players (majority) insist to Don Fehr that they want a deal done. And when that happens, the deal is going to look much closer to the league’s 50-50 split offer from Oct 16 than any offer the players have made to counter it since.
To this point, Fehr has done a great job of making the players believe that he will get them a deal better than the 50-50 split the owners are currently offering. The players just aren’t living in reality right now and Fehr has found a way to keep the players united, constantly putting it in their heads that the owners are pretty much evil in this process.
“You don’t hire Don Fehr to settle for a 50-50 split, ” one player told me last week.
A turning point in talks was just hours after the league made their new offer on Oct. 16 in what many pundits felt was going to jumpstart talks. Immediately after the league’s offer became known, there was a true sense of optimism from some players when hearing about the details. I had one agent tell me within just a few hours, he got calls from two clients playing in Europe asking if they should start thinking about preparations of heading back to North America.
That optimism and a sense from some players that the league was finally bargaining in good faith was quickly halted from Fehr who that night “nitpicked” nearly every aspect of the league’s offer in a letter to the players. “He gave us the actual facts {of the NHL’s offer} and we stand behind Don, ” one player told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
For fans hoping to see hockey this season, it’s going to come down to Fehr getting his ego out of the way and getting the best deal for the players he can off the league’s offer. Whether you side with the players or the league, that’s the reality of the situation but as long as Fehr can keep the players behind his strategy, we’re headed to a significantly long lockout.