It appears that the NHL lockout has begun seven hours early with a pair of statements from legal counsel from both the NHL and the NHLPA.
NHLPA counsel Steve Fehr and NHLPA Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met for lunch on Saturday in advance of the looming midnight lockout, and held informal discussions that didnt seem to go very far. Daly and the NHL released their statement first with words that basically kill any suspense that something will happen to stave off a work stoppage, andattempted to skirt blamefor the situation the league is in once again.
We spoke today and determined that there was no point in convening a formal bargaining session in light of the fact that neither side is in a position to move off of its latest proposal, Daly said. Im sure we will keep in touch in the coming days and schedule meetings to the extent they might be useful or appropriate. We are sorry for where we are. Not what we hoped or expected.
So the NHLPA responded in kind by revealing that Fehr, his brother Donald Fehr and some key players from the negotiating committee were all in New York City prepared to meet with NHL officials today. Instead the NHLPA was rebuffed in their attempts to rekindle talks because there was no purpose in the leagues eyes to negotiating further in an attempt to avoid the lockout.
"Today we suggested that the parties meet in advance of the owners' self-imposed deadline of midnight tonight. Don Fehr, myself and several players on the Negotiating Committee were in the city and prepared to meet, wrote Fehr in a prepared statement. The NHL said that it saw no purpose in having a formal meeting. There have been and continue to be private, informal discussions between representatives of both sides.
So instead both sides will go back to a staring contest as the current CBA expires at midnight, and the NHL players are officially locked out beginning tomorrow. At least the NHL and NHLPA acknowledged that informal discussions will continue between both parties, but judging by their words it appears things are going exactly as the NHL wants them to at this point. The main point of contention is the owners' desire to reduce the players' share of revenue down from its current 57 percent level. In their latest proposal, owners have offered a six-year deal with the players share hovering somewhere between 47-49 percent over the course of the deal. Players have offered to give up some of their anticipated salary growth over the next 3-5 years, and they believe it would drop their share from 54.3 to 52.3 if the sport continues to grow at its current level of 7.1 percent. With each percentage point reduction meaning at least 33 million per year, there is a huge chasm between the two positions that could add up to a billion dollars over the course of a potential CBA.
There are no plans for any more formal or informal discussions on Saturday prior to midnight. Congrats to both Fehr and Daly for making this the most anticlimactic midnight deadline ever.