After back-to-back failed negotiation sessions last week, a short meeting on Tuesday was the last thing hockey fans wanted to hear. However, it was Donald Fehr that would leave the meeting less than an hour after it began. And it wasn’t for lack of progress that he left either. The NHLPA Executive Director told media that the NHL’s newly refined offer was worthy of examination by the entire union.
“I think the appropriate thing to do under the circumstances is go back, we’ve got constituents and so on.” But he offered little detail to his apparent intrigue, regarding the new offer. “It’s a proposal that we intend to respond to, I’ll leave it at that,” said Fehr.
The two sides reconvened three and a half hours later for a brief 45 minutes. And after a frustrating week, the NHL Commissioner spoke words of encouragement, offering his two cents on the new offer..
“We believe that we made a significant, meaningful step,” Bettman said after an apparently progressive session.
This news is likely a welcome surprise for eager hockey fans. It may not offer anything specific, but it is certainly a few steps forward from a week ago when the meetings were short-lived and ended in frustration.
The surprising news is that it is the owners that have dialed up the offensive and have presented a reasonable offer. This coming just a week after Bettman walked out on two meetings in frustration with the lack of player cooperation. It seemed to all but put the final nail in the coffin, that is the season.
The two sides were last stumped by failing to find any kind of common ground on “fundamental economic issues” in previous meetings. as stated by the league commissioner. There are further issues that are also key in the ongoing negotiations, such as hockey related revenue sharing as well as player contract terms.
Whether this offer is accepted or not, it appears as though the league owners and players have found a somewhat similar ground to their stubbornness. At the same time, I wouldn’t bet on the fact that the players will agree with the deal and sign it just to resume hockey this fall. But it it does appear that the NHL’s new proposal has struck a similar chord to the tune each side is whistling.
Either way, the negotiations could not have gone much worse than last week, so the fact that the players are even considering the owners’ offer has to be a good sign.