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Fehr explains players’ side of contracting issues

Nov 11, 2012, 8:00 PM EST

Donald Fehr: Sidney Crosby AP

Some believe that Sunday’s talks were marginal (when they weren’t contentious) because contracting issues were the topic of the day, but NHLPA Donald Fehr might disagree.

In fact, he told NHL.com’s Corey Masisak that contracting issues* are “vastly more important” than the much-cited revenue split.

“They’ve indicated to us from the beginning that the share was really important and the contracting issues were really important,” Fehr said. “We told them both are important, but as share is limited, contracting rights become not only more important but vastly more important.”

Fehr believes it comes down to losing power at the bargaining table.

“Players have two interests here,” Fehr said. “Interest No. 1 is how big the share is and that’s not agreed upon yet either, but the parties have at least moved on that. The second one is how does an individual player negotiate his piece of the pie? [The] answer is players will have vastly fewer rights, vastly less leverage for vastly longer portion of their career under the NHL proposal.”

To be more specific, Fehr said he has problems with the system for entry-level players, the restrictions on salary arbitration, the five-year maximum contract length and one interesting point of contention: salaries varying significantly from year-to-year.

” … The provision that says there can’t be significant variability to what a player makes between one year and the next in a contract … really cuts down the number of teams you can talk to and a number of other things,” Fehr said.

Getting more details than Fehr’s terse no path response is interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily make labor peace any more foreseeable.

As far as the nearer future is concerned, Masisak reports that the two sides might determine the next steps since they’ll both be in Toronto for the 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame induction.

Coming soon: Bill Daly explains the NHL’s side of contracting issues.

Related

The owners’ perspective

Daly initially speaks of “no progress”

Fehr doesn’t see a “path to agreement”

Meetings end briskly

* – Such as when a player can become an unrestricted free agent …

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