The NHL and NHLPA representatives gather again on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the core economic issues of the collective bargaining agreement. This round comes after NHLPA executive director Don Fehr staged two meetings with players — one in Chicago and one in Kelowna, BC — following the last sessions, briefing them on the talks.
Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges was among the 38 players who attended the NHLPA briefing in Kelowna, and it’s clear from his remarks that he remains firmly with Fehr and the PA representatives who have been in the negotiations.
Here’s news footage from Shaw TV of the BC meeting that features Fehr and a number of NHL players, including Gorges.
“All the rules and everything that goes with the CBA currently are from decisions they brought into us last time and the one thing you kinda ask is, if it’s not working — and they say the system’s not working — why not change the system?” Gorges tells interviewers. “And the proposal we got didn’t really change. It just asked for us to give up a lot of money and asked us to concede a lot of different aspects but the system itself was still in place.”
Ownership’s proposal calls for the players to take less percentage of Hockey Related Revenue in the new CBA, from 57 percent down to 43 percent. Kevin Allen of USA Today wrote Wednesday that each percentage point is worth more than $30 million. The owners proposal calls for much lower salaries as well as take-backs on things like free agency, arbitration, front loaded contracts and entry level deals.
A number of fans and media observers believe the solution is for the sides to settle on a 50-50 split, which is what the latest NBA and NFL CBAs call for. The NHLPA opposes the 50-50 split (and I examined why in this SI.com post earlier this week).
The players alternative proposal acknowledges the league has problems with some franchises despite unprecedented economic health and agrees to lower salaries for three years followed by a one year return to the current CBA. It also calls for the owners to share more of their record revenue with the struggling teams.
“One side doesn’t have to try to hit a home run and bury the other side,” Gorges said. “I think it’s a matter of coming to an agreement where both sides benefit and I think if both sides benefit, you’re going to have a good game and the fans will be happy and everyone will be happy. So I think that’s the biggest thing: They’re trying to find a system that benefits everybody.”