NHL talks continue amid mixed signals from Donald Fehr

Union boss Donald Fehr says both sides are either close or far apart on a contract.
Union boss Donald Fehr says both sides are either close or far apart on a contract. (RICHARD DREW / AP)
Posted: November 10, 2012

Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players' Association, gave two different spins on the labor war with the league.

In a letter he sent to players before Friday's meeting with the NHL in New York, Fehr said there was a "significant gap" between both sides.

After the meeting, however, he changed his tune, saying the NHLPA does not feel it is as far apart on core economic issues as the NHL says.

In any event, the league and the union seem no closer to an agreement than they did in the summer.

Friday marked the fourth straight day the sides had met, with hockey-related revenue, revenue sharing, and pensions among the chief issues. The league and the players' union may meet Saturday.

"Whatever it takes," said Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, when asked about the weekend plans.

In his letter to the players, which was released by TSN and NBC Sports, Fehr said the owners want "an immediate reset" to a 50/50 split in hockey-related revenue, and he noted that it would "significantly reduce the salary cap."

The players earned 57 percent of the revenue in the last collective bargaining agreement.

Earlier in the week, the players' union said it did not want a 50/50 split until the third year of the CBA.

The league has been under the impression that most players are ready to consummate an agreement if revenues are split 50/50 and all contracts are honored in full. That's exactly what the owners have offered the players, a source told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The source added that Fehr did not include that information in his memo to the players.

Late Friday night, Fehr said he did not hide any information from the players, hinting that some communication was made in a conference call.

In the letter, Fehr voiced his displeasure with several of the owners' proposals, including salary arbitration rights, extending unrestricted free agency to eight years, and limiting contracts to a maximum of five years.

"Individually, each is bad for players; taken together they would significantly reduce a player's bargaining power and give the owners more leverage over a player for most if not all of his career," Fehr wrote.

NHL players averaged about $2.5 million in salary last season.

On Twitter, a fan had this message to the NHL and the NHLPA: "Please, both sides, just go away. We don't care anymore."

The lockout reached its 55th day on Friday.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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