National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Director Don Fehr could meet soon after the All-Star weekend is over to begin negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), reports Eric Stephens of the OC Register.
Well, Don Fehr has repeatedly said that he wouldn’t be ready until after the All-Star [weekend]. My guess is that at some point in the next few weeks, we’ll probably sit down—assuming the union is comfortable doing that. There’s a pretty steep learning curve in terms of the business from the union’s standpoint, what the players are focused on, and we’ve been respectful of that process. So whenever they’re ready, we’re ready. We’ve been ready.
Bettman shared his thoughts with the media while in Anaheim recently (see more of his comments starting at the 4:48 minute mark in the video below).
With the current CBA expiring September 15, 2012, the fear in the hockey world is that another work stoppage may be on the way. Although Boston Bruins player representative Daniel Paille tells NESN’s Douglas Flynn that he remains optimistic both sides can reach an agreement without another hockey season being canceled.
I am still optimistic. I feel that we should have learned our lesson the first time and realize there’s a lot more at stake. It’s not just about us. It’s about everyone around us. I feel optimistic about it. That’s just my personal opinion, and hopefully everyone in the league sees that as well.
Bettman, however, has a different view of the situation.
I’m not sure it’s about learning lessons, because the lesson that everybody knows – and it’s not one you have to learn – is that you want to not have work stoppages. They’re not fun. They’re counter-productive. But if, if you’re in a situation as we were where there were fundamental problems that had to be addressed, you have to address the problems. Because you can’t live with a dysfunctional system.
Many thought that the first shot in the new CBA negotiations was fired when the NHLPA rejected the League’s proposed realignment plan.
The response from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was combative at the time, stating that the PA may have violated the League’s rights.
It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably refused to approve a plan that an overwhelming majority of our clubs voted to support. We believe the union acted unreasonably in violation of the league’s rights. We intend to evaluate all of our available legal options and to pursue adequate remedies, as appropriate.
The PA responded that their concerns weren’t considered, and the League was not interested in discussing changes suggested by the players’ union.
The issue doesn’t appear to have left a lingering bad feelings for some players, as Paille tells NESN.
I don’t think so. I think there’s a bigger picture here and this small setback shouldn’t affect us in the future. There’s a lot more different categories to worry about and bigger problems for us to fix.
Bettman’s comments in Anaheim about the realignment debacle appear to be somewhat more conciliatory than Daly’s were back in early January, though they could still be interpreted as fighting words.
The most significant thing I can say about that is the governors were overwhelming in support of the plan. It’s something that we, as a league, thought was the right thing to do for our fans, for the team, for the game. But we made the decision based on the position that the union was taking to try not to be confrontational right now. Ultimately, our goal will be to be to implement the will of the board [of governors].