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EXCLUSIVE: Donald Fehr’s post-meeting memo to players — “There is still a lot of work to be done”

Nov 9, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT

Donald Fehr: Sidney Crosby AP

PHT has obtained a copy of NHLPA boss Donald Fehr’s memo to union members following Thursday’s CBA meetings in New York.

The letter, obtained from an NHL player, suggests the union is displeased with the league’s latest offerings.

In addition to the ongoing issues of revenue sharing and the league’s “Make Whole” idea, the NHLPA has concerns about the NHL’s stance on contract length, unrestricted free agent eligibility and arbitration processes — issues that “significantly reduce a player’s bargaining power and give the owner much more leverage over a player for most if not all of his career.”

Here is Fehr’s letter, in full:

Today, we met with the NHL off and on over several hours.  A number of matters were discussed, including our proposal for a new pension plan, revenue sharing, the players’ share and salary cap issues, and the owners’ “make whole” concept.  Present today were Chris Campoli, Mathieu Darche, Ron Hainsey, Johan Hedberg, Manny Malhotra, and Kevin Westgarth (David Backes was present for part of the day), as well as Mathieu Schneider, Joe Reekie, Steve Webb and Rob Zamuner.   

No new proposals were exchanged on pension issues, but we will discuss this issue again tomorrow (Friday). We did receive a proposal on revenue sharing in response to the proposal we made this week, but this subject still needs considerable work. 

In addition, we received a revamped proposal covering players’ share and cap issues, their so-called “make whole”, and player contracting issues.  The owners finally did formally give us their “make whole” idea, which in dollar terms is similar to the discussions Bill Daly had with Steve Fehr a few days ago.  While a step forward, a significant gap remains.  Moreover, at the same time we were told that the owners want an “immediate reset” to 50/50 (which would significantly reduce the salary cap) and that their proposals to restrict crucial individual contracting rights must be agreed to.  As you know, these include – among other things – losing a year of salary arbitration eligibility, allowing the team to file for salary arbitration in any year that the player can file, extending UFA eligibility to age 28 or 8 seasons, limiting contracts to 5 years, and permitting only 5% year to year variability in player contracts.   Individually each is bad for players; taken together they would significantly reduce a player’s bargaining power and give the owner much more leverage over a player for most if not all of his career.   

In short, the concessions on future salary we have offered (at least $948 Million to $1.25 Billion over five years, depending on HRR growth) are not enough.  We are still being told that more salaries must be conceded, and that very valuable player contracting rights must be surrendered.  So, while we are meeting again, and while some steps are being taken, there is still a lot of work to be done and bridges to be crossed before an agreement can be made. 

We will review today’s discussions over night and tomorrow morning before meeting again with the owners. Following our meeting tomorrow with the league, we will be able to provide a broader update.

As always, please contact us if you have any questions or comments.

Best regards.

Don

Despite the letter’s somewhat pessimistic tone, there are signs for optimism.

Talks have yet to break off — the NHLPA and NHL have met for over 17 hours over the last three days — and the two sides will enter their fourth consecutive day of negotiations on Friday, which were set to begin at 10 a.m. ET in New York.

  1. matthews4 - Nov 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Really how can anyone at this point side with the owners, they still want players to pay players. A colossal joke. Please spare us how billionaires are taking all the financial risks, in most cases these teams are not even 10% of their portfolio. The “make whole” concept needs to be removed all together.

    • comeonnowguys - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      Paid for by the NHLPA PR firm.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        Yet the owners have been giving all the concessions. Nothing from the players.

      • woodstakes - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        @greatminnesotasportsmind
        Yeah owners make concessions, from what?? That RIDICULOUS 1st offer!! If YOU believe that by making a ridiculous 1st offer and then my moving off of said offer is what you consider ‘concessions’ then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come on down to my dealership next time you buy a new car… because you clearly have no idea what is going on!

    • richter35lundqvist30 - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      57% immediately reduced to 50% isn’t a concession?

      • stakex - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:57 PM

        It is, IF the players are actually willing to do it… which remains to be seen.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        The PA hasn’t even offered that. The owners proposed that in every proposal and Fehr has shot them down. The offered the PA gave the owners didn’t have a 50/50 split until the 3rd year at the earliest. One offer didn’t get to 50/50 tipped in the side of the players.

      • woodstakes - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:16 PM

        Yes, the NHLPA offers come down to 50/50 because they want to get “PAID THE CONTRACTS THEY SIGNED IN GOOD FAITH WITH THE OWNERSHIP!” WTH is so bad about being paid what you are suppose to be paid under your CONTRACT! If you say the ‘make whole’ idea is the answer than your crazy. So your employer comes up to you and says, “Hey, we think your great at what you do, so we are going to give you a raise, but what we are going to do is take money from your salary now to pay you later on in your career, ok?” So your going to line up and sign that BS?? It doesn’t matter what they get paid, they were signed in a legal binding contract to a salary for future performance. IF you believe its ok for the owners to do this then is it ok for the players to say “Well, since you are taking 10% of my contract then I guess I can take 10% of games & practice off as well then, right?” I’m betting the owners would say no to that.

  2. nhl19 - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    From a Boston perspective it’s disappointing that we have two owners in the area at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, Kraft with the Patriots and Jacobs with the Bruins. Kraft has been noted as the hero of ending the NFL lockout, while Jacobs as the head of the Board of Governors is at the forefront of owners who threw out hefty contracts right before the CBA expired and now wants that money back. Jacbos wonders why he still hears negative ractions around the city.

  3. lordfletcher - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    No matter how you feel about either party, it really does seem they both want to get this worked out by mid next week at the latest.

    I am hoping for an early Xmas present, get it done!!!!

    -Wild fan

  4. hanisflyingsolo - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Awesome sure the league will be thrilled this got leaked. Throw any momentum out the window.

  5. sippindasyzurp - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    I am a season ticket holder in Winnipeg, and I can say that although I wish I could be watching the Jets right now, I have also found many other things to fill my time…

    When the NHL returns I will be back to support the team, but I can tell you that probably wouldn’t be the case if I lived somewhere like Florida, Dallas, Phoenix, etc… I think the longer this drags out, it will do irreversible damage to those markets, and POSSIBLY in a few years you might see some contraction in those areas if there is a lost season, you can only move 2 or 3 franchises, when there would still be about 4 more at least that are struggling to meet bottom line..

    But when you think about it from a players standpoint, if the NHL ever needs to contract a few franchises that is lost jobs for players, so them sitting out longer also affects them in future not just the owners pockets.

    • ron05342 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      Typical Canadian, northern-city argument…thanks for taking into consideration, once again, that sun-belt cannot support teams, even though the teams you mention have all been there closing in on 20 years. Such arrogance.

      Meanwhile, that ultimate sun-belt city, Los Angeles, has only been around for 45 years. No support there, nope, none.

      Except that I am a season ticket holder, and the difference between me and you is I will see a Stanley Cup championship banner raised and you will still be begging Evander Kane to please, please, please sign a long-term deal with your team.

      Or maybe not.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        First, 4 of the 5 teams with the lowest ticket prices in the NHL during the 2011-12 season were in the southern US, the 6 teams with the highest ticket prices were in Canada, and the top 13 were north of the ol’ Mason-Dixon line. It has nothing to do with Canada. These are simple facts.

        Second, Sippin didn’t say anything about LA. In any case, don’t forget it wasn’t long ago that LA was in the bottom half of the league in terms of attendance percentage, and the bottom 1/3rd in actual attendance (if you go by tickets sold).

        3rd, being a season-ticket holder doesn’t mean much. For all we know, you may have hopped on that wagon with the rest of the folks who suddenly realized LA has an NHL team. I’m honestly thrilled that LA won the Cup (plus the Devils suck), and it’s done wonders in growing their fanbase, but the question is can the goodwill continue even after the lockout? We’ll see. Furthermore, Kane signed with the Jets for 6 years.

        Sippin is right; if the NHL wants to grow, or at least sustain it’s current revenue stream, it needs to end the lockout now. It’s not going to grow much more in Canada, and it’s fairly well established in the Union. It faces its biggest losses in the South where it already has a difficult time getting people to come to games. It’s not that us Canucks necessarily want southern teams to fail. The reality is, it’s not part of the culture down there, and it faces tough competition from other sports. We’ll have to just see if the lockout further harms the interest in hockey in the South.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 9, 2012 at 6:29 PM

        The only reason the top 6 priced tickets were in Canada, because of the growth of the Canadian dollar. It is now equal to that of the American dollar. Just a few years ago, the Canadian dollar was close to .50 to the American dollar. That is why we saw Winnipeg and Quebec move south.

        Since Canada’s dollar has gotten stronger, the revenues got stronger, thus giving the NHL it’s record breaking revenues it enjoys today.

    • tbbolts91 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      Obviously never been to a lightning game….

  6. lostpuppysyndrome - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    It’s not the amount of work that needs to be done that’s the problem, it’s the motivation and the action done to make sure that work gets taken care of. There’s a reason why, even after tackling it for 4 days straight, they haven’t solved it yet. Patience, folks. It’ll happen soon enough.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      I meant that as, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done but the action and motivation are there. Hopefully that makes more sense cuz I don’t understand the downboats here.

    • ron05342 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:11 PM

      “3rd, being a season-ticket holder doesn’t mean much. For all we know, you may have hopped on that wagon with the rest of the folks who suddenly realized LA has an NHL team.”

      Just to clarify, I did hop on the bandwagon when I suddenly realized that the Kings had a hockey team in Los Angeles.

      I did that in 1967.
      :) Sorry, just couldn’t resist. Bottom line, there are lot of “original 67s” like me in Los Angeles, and there are also a lot of fans from other teams accusing many fans in Los Angeles of “jumping on the bandwagon.” Which is actually ridiculous, because L.A. has a very large contingent of hardcore, long-term fans that have been around many years, living and dying with the Kings (just as GM Dean Lombardi termed us as “Cubbish”).

      From what I could tell, there was a huge number of fans “jumping on the bandwagon” across the nation when the Kings dispatched their first round opponent, Vancouver.

      In regards to being a STH, I can tell you that it was extremely difficult to upgrade this year (although I was able to do it, at a considerable cost however). The Kings have already announced they have sold out of season ticket availability for 2012-13. It is likely that every game this season will indeed sell out (only 3 of 41 regular season games did not sell out last season, and each one of those were within three hundred seats of doing so).

      • ron05342 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:14 PM

        Oh, and one more thing, I don’t know how old you are, but I am obviously old enough to remember listening to most of the games on the radio, because in the 1960s, 1970s, and the early part of the 1980s there was not television for home games.

        And we got very few road games as well on TV.

        That’s dedication. :)

      • blomfeld - Nov 9, 2012 at 10:50 PM

        Way to tell ‘em Ron !

        You’ve got me by 6 years in terms of being a diehard Kings fan, so they sure don’t come much better than you ! Here in Vancouver as a fourteen year old back in ’73, I used to “barely” pick up King’s home games on a little transistor radio that I had. Sometimes there was nothing to be heard, as it seemed to always depend on weather interference ? Anyway, that was the year I fell in love with them and they’ve ruled my heart ever since ! :)

        ps: yeah, there sure wasn’t much to be seen on television back then eh ? … the Kings were on Hockey Night in Canada maybe 2 x per year … and they would occasionally show them on those Sunday telecasts that went for a while on either NBC or KVOS ? … can’t remember …

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:10 PM

        That really is dedication, and that’s pretty cool. It’s been pretty fun watching the Kings get better and better for the past few years. Kopitar’s one of my favorite players actually.

        And yep, you’ve got a few years on me. I was about 10 when the Jets were shipped down to Phoenix, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry when that happened.

      • blomfeld - Nov 10, 2012 at 1:05 AM

        Lostpuppysyndrome – It’s okay friend, as “all” of us Canadian hockey fans cried that day when the Jets were exported to the desert … it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. But alas, look what you have today ! A brand new team and a bright new future which is yours for the making ! :)

  7. wethog66 - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Last time I checked 3 days = 72 hours. 17 hours of total meeting time in the span of 3 days is not enough. Get this **** worked out already.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Normally 3 days of work is 24 hours…

    • stakex - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      Six hours of face to face meetings a day is quite a bit actually. Don’t forget, both sides need time to crunch numbers and talk things over after ideas/offers are exchanged… which is why the meetings are broke up throughout the day.

      • wethog66 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        I wouldn’t classify CBA negotiations during a lockout as a typical 8 hour work day.

        It is entirely possible I am way off base, but I feel 17 hours in a 72 hour time frame is not enough. And both sides have enough “staff” where some can run off and crunch numbers on one part of a proposal while the big boys move on to haggeling over another part.

        I don’t get a sense there is much urgency from either side.

        Just tired of being forced to watch the joke that is the NBA during the week instead of watching the NHL. Actually more pissed than tired. The NBA sucks.

    • ron05342 - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:13 PM

      @blomfield:

      You are a true old-time die-hard national (in your case, international) fan of the L.A. Kings. I remember Dallas had a huge following in the early 1970s because radio waves from L.A. AM radio stations would travel all the way to New Orleans at night.

      And people these days think that Bettman is responsible for the sun-belt interest in hockey…but the reality of it was that there was a lot more interest in the early 1970s, thanks to the Kings.

      • blomfeld - Nov 10, 2012 at 1:23 AM

        Ron5342 – Well said friend ! Hey man, I’m gonna level with you by saying that I actually “do” believe that our Kings are going to repeat this year ! I mean seriously, can you believe that ? It’s like I have this innate ability to predict stuff, even though it admittedly isn’t such a good thing at times. Nonetheless, I’ve recently had this vision of our Kings doing it all again come this June. Oh man, I can’t wait until we get going here !

        GO RON !!

        GO LA KINGS !!!!

        LET’S “DO IT” AGAIN MAN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. sjsharks66 - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    This was going to good…then this got released. Owners said they were going to talk, NHLPA decides to. NHL is going to be pissed and today’s meeting will be a short one. Optimism thrown out the window again.

  9. finfan88shark - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    In the end the players will lose and lose. Don Fehr and his PR firm, as well as the first poster just don’t get the basics of give and take in contract negoatations. And players aren’t smart enough to realize a years lost salary is worse then losing what amounts to 7% of their salary. What players should really do is go to their accountants and get a better understanding of this.

    • falstaffsmind - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      There is a lot more in that letter than just salary. You could lose a ton of your potential income just in the extension of the UFA clause.

  10. ballistictrajectory - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Let’s see…

    No CBA:
    [Homeowner] I need this sink replaced.
    [Plumber] Great. That’ll take 2 hours and cost you $xxx.xx, plus the cost of the sink.
    [Homeowner] Great, Go ahead. OR I’ll get someone else.

    With CBA:
    [Homeowner] I need this sink replaced.
    [Plumber] Great. That’ll take 2 hours and cost you $xxx.xx, plus the cost of the sink. In addition, you will allow me to file for arbitration if I decide the value of my work is more than I quoted. If I’m unable to complete the job to the standard we agree upon (2 hours for x bucks) we will have to renegotiate the terms of our agreement. I’m willing to accept a front loaded agreement where I get 80% of the cash in hour 1, but don’t expect me to take a deal where I get paid at the end of the job.
    [Homeowner] Yeah, right…

    Let the players play whereever they can find a job. Let these arenas sit empty or partially used (lowering their taxable revenues) until both sides learn to live in the real world.

    • isithockeyseasonyet - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      This makes no sense, the fans should be playing the role of homeowner because they’re paying for the service provided by the players who are making the demands…nice try

  11. jkline3 - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Don’s looking for a fight rather than present the proposals and let the players decide if any concessions are worth it or not. A memo loaded with terms like “finally”, “losing”, “surrendering” and “so-called” is designed to stir up passions – not work out a deal.

  12. joeyashwi - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Just follow the NFL model already. Why try to reinvent the wheel? 6 year limits, guaranteed bonus but non guaranteed contracts, no arbitration, 50/50 split. Revenue goes up, both sides win. Revenue goes down, neither side loses. Too easy I guess.

  13. mmchugh619 - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Whoever the player is that “leaked” this should be smacked. Both sides were playing by the same rules, which generally works towards getting things done, because it builds trust and respect. Now that’s out the window, as I’m sure the NHL will be annoyed to say the least at this development. I’m on the players side in this, but I’m really not surprised, as Fehr always negotiated in the media when he was with baseball union.

    Just get this done already, so hockey fans have an additional thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving here in the states.

  14. matthews4 - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Yeah I am part of the NHLPA, or maybe some one who realizes this whole thing started by the owners saying we are not going to honor any of the contracts signed this year, with out players paying players. Forget the fact that this is not being done an any other sport. Yeah the owners are reasonable.

  15. irokkit - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    The only real thing that upsets me is the fact they have met for 17 hours. REALLY!!!
    17 hours????
    This has been known for what 7 years that this was going to happen? And they have only been able muster 17 hours???
    WOW, what workaholics we have here.
    All the negotiations are quite normal to me. The time they have spent on it is apprehensible!!!!
    We are in Friday. 35 hours have past. They worked 50% of the week.
    This work ethic isn’t making my balls tingle that’s for sure. .

  16. mississippimudslinger - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    lol no hockey no hockey .. it’s over

    • mmchugh619 - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      lol, you make no sense, no sense, please stop commenting on a sport you obviously do not like by every post you put on this site.

  17. stakex - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    I see this as a rather under handed way of making a PR statement in the public. Lets face it… if the NHLPA didn’t want this memo to get out, it wouldn’t have gotten out. You can read what you want in this, but it does not make a deal seem likely, or even close. It uses some rather loaded words when talking about the NHL, and paints the league as a bully thats still unwilling to budge.

    This memo getting “leaked” is not going to help things one bit. If anything, the NHL isn’t going to look very kindly on the NHLPA trying to score PR points at a time when both sides seem to have an agreement to not talk to the media. No matter how you slice it, this memo is a bad omen.

    • sharksfanatic - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Agree. This is not a good sign. This will not score any PR points; just makes the players union look small not wanting a deal except on their terms. It seems like almost all movement has been from the owners. This memo will most likely just piss them off.

  18. dexterismyhero - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Bueller! Bueller!

  19. voltron217 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    For those still siding with the players obviously voted for Obama. Hockey and all sports are a civic entertainment and should not be unaffordable for the public. The players are selfish and overpaid. Owners do have the burden of financial responsibility. I don’t see players giving there owners money back if they lose money especially if they miss the playoffs. People are so clueless on owners just because a guy owns a billion dollar business doesn’t mean he can use that companies money to pay players. I think shareholders would have a problem with that. And these owners are worth what the hold in stocks and assets it doesn’t mean they have 500 million sitting in the bank to pay a whining player.

    • comeonnowguys - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      Dude… why? Why go there?

    • kyzslew77 - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      Quite possibly the worst comment in the history of PHT

    • woodstakes - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      Still butthurt from the election on tuesday there voltron217! Your obviously right and everyone agrees with you that’s why you guys won in a landslide!

    • mmchugh619 - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      Your comment above is about as stupid as your cartoon. I think you clicked on the wrong NBC blog. The political blog is on a different page.

  20. huffdaddyco - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    You know what really bothers me? I am almost to the point where I don’t care. **sigh**

  21. sharksfanatic - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Lots of talk about revenue growth. Both sides talk about 5%. Reality is growth will be negative this year and possibly flat the next. Also, need to factor in how this will be calculated with a shortened season. Players as far as I understand want a set sum of money and calculate their share of the 50/50 split assuming 5% growth. Reality is with negative or flat growth, the players share would be much higher.

  22. mgp1219 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Notice the absence of blomfeld/id4joey….

    • mgp1219 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      Mid-December before any games are played, if any are played at all.

    • blomfeld - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:07 PM

      Back off Mgp1219 … seriously !

      Listen mack … I’m not sure if you’re calling me out here or something ? … but if you are, then you’d better be careful ! As you know, I’ve stated all along that a “magical” agreement would be announced here during the week of Nov 5-10 “plus or minus” 3 x days. That gives us a time frame of Nov 2 -13 for a deal to be reached … and today is only November 9th. So I’m not sure what your angle is ?

      Warning ! … if you’re looking for trouble pal, then you’ve come to the right person !

      • mgp1219 - Nov 10, 2012 at 9:39 AM

        id4joeyblomeld,

        Thou doth protest too much.
        What, prey tell, could thou be hiding?

    • id4joey - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      Hiya! Miss me? Just got back from the future watching the king on their way to a 5th SC. Sid ‘kid’ Crosby jr. Is burning up the league for the kings. Yeah! He whines just like dad. Lol

    • id4joey - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      Hiya! Miss me? Just got back from the future watching the Kings on their way to another SC. Sid ‘kid’ Crosby jr. Is burning up for the Kings. Yeah! He whines just like dad. Lol

  23. matt8204 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Here’s what they don’t get. Life will go on without the NHL. The world won’t spontaneously combust if Lord Stanley isn’t handed out this year. I’ve already gotten used to not watching hockey and I was as big of a fan as you could find. They better hope that not too many people share my feelings. Even diehards can only be pushed so far. “Out of sight, out of mind” will eventually take over. You’re also going to alienate sponsors who will begin to see this as a bush-league, radioactive operation.

    • id4joey - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Yes! Matt, and no one will miss you I’m sure. And, yes, we all know that it won’t be good for the game if there is no season this year. If YOU know it, don’t you think others know it as well? Including both parties who are in negotiation to resolve this labor dispute. Can you tell us something not so obvious? How about some intelligent insight?

  24. thedavesiknowiknow - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:19 PM

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