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Owners react to roller coaster week of CBA talks

Dec 6, 2012, 9:44 PM EDT

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America Getty Images

There was a sense of optimism about the CBA process when the players and owners met on Tuesday without NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Unfortunately those feelings didn’t last and talks seem to have broken down again.

With the dust still settling, four of the six owners that participated in the talks earlier this week issued statements.

“I must admit that I was shocked at how things have played out over the last 48 hours,” Toronto Maple Leafs owner Larry Tanenbaum said. “The sessions on Tuesday felt cooperative with an air of goodwill. I was optimistic and conveyed my optimism to the Board of Governors at our Wednesday meeting.

“However, when we reconvened with the players on Wednesday afternoon, it was like someone had thrown a switch. The atmosphere had completely changed.

“Nevertheless, the owners tried to push forward and made a number of concessions and proposals, which were not well-received. I question whether the union is interested in making an agreement.

“I am very disappointed and disillusioned. Had I not experienced this process myself, I might not have believed it.”

Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman shared in Tanenbaum’s initial optimism, but expressed regret that the two sides could ultimately not close the gap on the issues that the league feels are essential.

The key points he’s likely referring are the issues of contract length, the CBA length, and compliance issues related to transitioning to a new agreement (e.g. buyouts, cap on escrow).

“While I sense there are some members of the players’ association that understand our perspective on these issues, clearly there are many that don’t,” Chipman said.

“We came back with an aggressive commitment to pensions which we felt was well received,” Pittsburgh Penguins owner Ron Burkle said before echoing Chipman’s remarks. “We needed a response on key items that were important to us, but we were optimistic that we were down to very few issues. I believe a deal was within reach.”

“While trust was built and progress was made along the way, unfortunately, our proposal was rejected by the union’s leadership,” added Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. “My love for the game is only superseded by my commitment to our fans and I hold out hope we can soon join with our players and return the game back to its rightful place on the ice.”

Related:

Not good enough: NHL rejects latest NHLPA offer

  1. capesouth - Dec 6, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Starting to dislike Fehr more and more. Granted, there is blame to go around but I’m shifting more and more in his direction given the union’s disorganization.

    • billsin20xx - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:01 PM

      Why say that, Fehr is the man who gave us a long lasting peace in baseball, he can do the same thilng here if the owners (or should I say bettman) want to. What other sport would keep a commissioner who has created as many problems as Bettman has?
      I love hockey, but I do see what most people think of it as a minor league sport.

      • capesouth - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:08 PM

        I think Bettman’s track record is a disgrace so I wish he would be removed. My point is that Fehr is the player’s filter here bc most of them don’t have much of an idea about the business behind this. All the stories of them delaying meetings, altering their main ‘concerns’, and swings in the union’s tone fall on him though. Just disorganized/messy. As for a long lasting peace, that would be solved by a 10 year CBA…not a 5 year one.

      • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:18 PM

        Long lasting peace in baseball?……..At what cost?

        5 of 10 teams who made the playoffs this year were in the top 10 in spending. 8 of the 10 teams in the playoffs were in the top 15 in spending.

        I’m guessing you’re fine with that if you’re a fan of 1 of those 15 teams because you have an 80% chance of making the playoffs.

        -Fehr helped create a dynamic where there is no motivation for a team like the pittsburgh pirates to spend their own money because the revenue allows them to make a profit using money from teams like the yankees and in return pirate fans have sat through 20 straight years of below .500 baseball.

        -Fehr helped spawn the likes of Manny ramirez and his infamous two year 45 million dollar deal. It was a joke, he is a joke, and that system is a joke.

        Fehr is a cancer! And this notion that the union is “fighting for the average joe” is a joke!

      • capesouth - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:31 PM

        Plus, why is Fehr saying they are close when they aren’t, at least not close enough to feel comfortable. Was he really under the impression things were honkey dorey? If so, he is out of touch with the situation. More likely, he is just posturing because there is absolutely zero purpose to telling everyone they are close, except to try and make the owners look bad when they reject it. No matter how you slice it, it is irresponsible and reflective of his leadership.

      • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 7, 2012 at 12:06 AM

        Because Fehr is a passive aggressive narcissistic labor chief. The silly thing is that he’s not even a real labor chief because this isn’t about people fighting for an honest days wage and safe work conditions so they can put food on the table for a family of four in middle america.

        It’s personal to Fehr because he wants to crack the system. Doing so would feed his own legacy. Any labor union and their chief will view a system which restricts player or worker leverage is bad for unionized laber in general.

        Fehr has no regard for the game, and no regard for the players. He is getting paid to get them paid at all and any costs.

        This dog and pony show Fehr put on since mid day wednesday was a perfect example of Fehr treating the players like cattle and they DID NOTHING ABOUT IT.

      • dcfan4life - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        Fehr achieved a long lasting peace in baseball by taking advantage of the owners in a strike. Baseball now has less competition, outrageous spending, fully guaranteed contracts that can hamper clubs, and many more problems. Hockey is in a lockout. Big difference. And its the second one in 10 years. The owners have already shown they will cancel an entire season before conceding certain things very recently and Fehr just doesn’t get it. Hate Bettman all you want, and i do too, but the owners are all in agreement with him. All the players are most definitely not in agreement with Fehr…

  2. mp1131211 - Dec 6, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    I would like to hear from the players what happened. It will be interesting to see if they have a different interpretation. But from this bit, it sure seems like the NHL made concessions that the players, imo, should have accepted.

  3. crankyfrankie - Dec 6, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    When you are the head of a LOCKED out work force it is your job to protect the workers you represent interest. It is not your job to capitulate to the management demands. Negotations are a two way street and , sadly, Bettman and company do not understand that. The players brought in Fehr to protect the players interest. Last contract they , the players gave in on everything. This time the players will not do so.

    • travishenryskid - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:08 PM

      I actually loled at your last sentence. With each passing day, they have less and less leverage.

  4. 8man - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    Get over it. The owners have a line. They aren’t buckling. Really? The players gave in on everything? Giving anything more than 50% to them is insane!

    It doesn’t matter who wears the gear as long as the gear survives.

    To the players: capitulate or retire.

    That is all.

    • eyeh8goodell - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:28 AM

      The players conceded the 50/50 split on these negotiations a long time ago. pay more attention.

  5. mydadyourmom - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    Joey what are you hearing?

  6. stakex - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Because I was pissed off at the owners for taking everything off the table after what seemed like a big move by the players. However after watching all of Bettmans press conference, and listening to the owners, I can actually understand why the owners walked out. If they told the players “We need these three things, no room to move”, and the players made a new offer that didn’t have any of them…. obviously a deal was not going to get done.

    The d-bag in all of this was Ferh coming out after making that offer, which he knew damn well the NHL would reject on its face, and tellings us that they were close to a deal. We can argue if its right for the owners to fight so hard for these issues, but the fact is those are their sticking points and Fehr knew that. Thus telling us a deal was close was a flat out lie by him, and its not right that hes trying to make a deal seem much closer then it actually is.

    I also think its interesting how Bettman points out that in 2004 there was one contract that was 6 years or longer… now there are 90 of them (which is 13% of all contracts). If the players did without them until a few years ago, and only a small percentage of NHL players will ever have one, why are the players going to go all the way on this issue? Obviously the owners will not give on it…. so why are the players willing to lose the season over something that can easily do without?

    • shotzongoal - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:04 PM

      Thank you for a great comment. I like to put it a different way. If 660 out of 750 contracts are 6 years or less. Where’s the sticking point. If 87% of the players, maybe a little less, are basically unaffected by the 5 year contract issue, where’s the issue?

      • valoisvipers - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:32 AM

        I agree with stakex, the difference here shotzongoal is the 13% of contracts that are the long term type are the big money contracts that are used to get around the cap system. It is something that the owners need to protect themselves from other owners signing away their star players.

  7. dbarnes79 - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    I am hearing when Fehr came back in the picture he started telling players to not agree, that they could get more out of the owners.

  8. fortwaynekomets - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    This is such a shame. I just watched the video and Gary Bettman basically said everything BUT “the season is cancelled”. You can tell he is emotionally pissed off the players didn’t take what he offered. The NHL is NOT stupid though, look for them to continuing to “cancel” games all the way up until February, THEN they will announce it’s a wrap folks.

    However, Mike Milbury is right (and he’s not often) when he said that DON’T expect hockey next fall unless it is settled before the end of this season. This could potentially go on for 2+ years. The players are getting screwed, that’s a given. BUT they will have all that taken off the table if they don’t accept the offer NOW, and the NHL has already started pulling stuff off the table… Looks like the players might have missed out on the best deal they could’ve got? yikes.

  9. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    That completely changed atmosphere that Tannenbaum spoke of? That’s called Donald Fehr.

  10. canuck54143 - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    I’ve been saying from the beginning Fehr will be the DEATH of the NHL. He allowed America’s past time to become a game of big markets vs small markets. He killed the competitive balance of the sport which allowed NFL to take over as America’s past time. He is all about himself, and cares very little about the health of the sport. I said from the get go make it a 10 year deal without which neither side can opt out. First three years working towards 50/50. Both sides win. Sorry owners no term limit on number of years. But entry level deals are now 4 years, and restricted free agents after year 5. Salaries from year to year can’t increase more then 5% . The other option would make entry levels 4 years. Year 5 restricted free agency, and after year six a player becomes free agent, but here’s where owners get their win. Clubs now can franchise a player. Franchise tags just like NFL can’t be applied more then 3 times in players career, and get paid just like nfl top 5 players at their position. And increase with each tag. Neither side can complain, and fans are true winners with 10 years of hockey.

  11. sampulls - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Love comments like crankiefrankie’s.
    Clearly he has been sucked into the culture of entitlement that exists in North America.
    Go take an economics 101 course and learn a little more about what companies do when they are losing money.

  12. orangeandblack67 - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    It’s an absolute travesty when all the hope and progress that was built in the last two days is dashed upon the re-entering of the two party’s who’s soul job is to get this deal done. Fire them both and string’em up.

  13. sportsfan69 - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    Can someone explain to me why the NFLPA and NBAPA can figure it out but the NHLPA can’t?

    Is it because they all are high school grads making millions dollars? Out of touch with reality. The Entitlement Group.

  14. id4joey - Dec 6, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    Here s what’s happening as I write this comment. Crosby is in his room with a few boys, and Pat Brisson is going back and forth between the Pens co owners room and Crosby’s trying to patch the relationship. Other players are trying to put a plan in for a full membership vote.

    Fehr screwed up bad. He may lose his job over this huge Romney like gaffe.

    • daburghdabest - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:03 PM

      How are they going to do a full membership vote?

      “Who knows, maybe their calculation is right about that. But as one player told ESPN.com on Thursday night after the theatrics were done, why wouldn’t the league submit a full formal offer? That’s the only way players would have a chance to vote on it membership-wide, he figured.”

      http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/20628/you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me

  15. sportsfan69 - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Id4joey,

    I hope your source is correct. God save Canada’s game!

    Otherwise, Crosby will be forever remembered as the A$$hole that destroyed Canada’s game.

    • blomfeld - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:31 AM

      LET US REJECT “COWARDICE” IN ALL IT’S FORMS !

    • valoisvipers - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      sportsfan69 I don’t think you can hang this on Crosby.If you want a villain here it is without any doubt Donald Fehr.

    • id4joey - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      It’s not about the sources being correct, it’s up to the players to understand they have limited leverage. If they don’t want to play hockey under certain terms, which by the way are not abusive, then perhaps they can find another career path. A silent vote would probably pass.

  16. shotzongoal - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    Don Fehr played on the overoptimism of his player and the NHL owners after Tuesday nights meetings and saw a chance to maybe squeeze a little more out of the owners. The media was talking about scheduling games during Christmas eve and Christmas day. The league had to stop calls by owners telling players to get ready to open training camp. He saw an advantage. I don’t know for sure if that was his ploy but if it was, it failed. Maybe Fehr wants desertification. If he thinks that’s the answer then he will have some job security. I think he is in for a long court battle. The NFL and the NBA started that process way earlier before many games were lost. The NHL has lost or will loss about 40% of the seasons revenues, more if the season is canceled. I think they would have a reasonable case in the courts but no matter, it could be tied up in litigation for years.

  17. meane56 - Dec 7, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    What happened to this whole lockout being Jacobs fault? Now that the other “non-hawk” owners are fed up with the NHLPA as well, you simply can’t pin it on the old curmudgeon. It has always been the fault of Don Fehr and will continue to be the fault of Don Fehr! The shthead waited until when to start negotiating with the league, using the excuse that they could play under the old CBA? If you are honest with yourself, as soon as the NHLPA hired him, in your heart of hearts you KNEW this was going to happen! Are the owners and the NHL without fault? Of coursed not, but dealing with this SOB is never going to work!

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