Donald Fehr was hired by the NHLPA 18 months ago in anticipation of the coming negotiations, and after taking his time to get to know the sport, it's players and it's issues, he's ready to get the ball rolling in New York this Friday when talks officially begin.
Fehr and the NHLPA had been meeting in Chicago this week to gain an understanding of the process and discuss strategy. Wednesday they officially unveiled the team of 31 players that will take part in the "bargaining committee," including the Dallas Stars' own Alex Goligoski.
The CBA expires on September 15h and even as you read this NHL GM's are signing players and discussing trades that will have to fit under a new agreement that's yet to be officially discussed - Which explains why the Calgary Flames were so careful with that contract they gave Dennis Wideman yesterday. But seriously...
A central theme of the negotiations should revolve around revenue sharing. The league has always been quick to point out their string of "record revenue" seasons ($3.1 billion last year). The players says they'll try to understand what the league means by "record revenues" (not profits, mind you), probably in anticipation of the league attempting to reduce the players slice of the pie, currently 57%. The NHL and NBA both reduced what portion of revenues goes to the players.
Other issues could include the cap floor (tied into revenues, sharing and cap math), realignment, long term contracts (cap circumvention) , escrow payments (another 8-12% of their salaries gone after taxes) and arbitration/RFA rules. Perhaps many more. Neither side has revealed much in the way of positions yet, and Friday's meeting will start a process of trying to establish a "common understanding of the facts," as Fehr put it.
Continued after the jump...
"The league and the game have had a good couple of years and in particular, this year," Fehr told media. "The object is to get a deal done which can continue that momentum and continue it uninterrupted. We certainly hope to do that."
Both sides have been quick to dismiss the idea of a lockout with negotiations yet to take place and Fehr did the same again yesterday saying "The players haven't considered what they would do on Sept. 15 or any other date if no agreement is in place."
Whether they've talked about it together or not, they've certainly thought about it. We all have, and after Free Agency it will be all there is to talk about in July and August as the season nears.
Under the law the season could, technically, continue under the old deal as long as negotiations are on-going and "management" and players are agreed on that course of action. The NHL is the side that chose to terminate the current agreement, however, and it seems like a long shot (re: very far-fetched) that they would agree to such a course of action.
It's unclear at this point how involved Alex Goligoski will be. It's been said that as many as 10 of the 31 players named to the bargaining committee will be present on Friday and New York and that the stable of players participating will rotate. Fehr has invited any member of the NHLPA to attend any meeting they like, however.
"As far as I'm concerned," Fehr said, "any player that wants to come to meetings, all he has to do is show up. And if he needs an airline ticket and a hotel, the union will pay for it."
Adam Burish acted as player rep to the NHLPA last season. As he does not yet have a contract, and Alex Goligoski is on this list, it's safe to assume he'll be the guy we hear from, if we hear anything, this summer as these negotiatons move on. Last time a new CBA was negotiated Bill Guerin, a Dallas Star at the time, was an "executive committee vice president" for the NHLPA and front and center for much of the action.
The complete list of names on the bargaining committee this time, as of now, is as follows...
Craig Adams (Pittsburgh Penguins), Adrian Aucoin (Phoenix Coyotes), Alex Auld (Ottawa Senators), David Backes (St. Louis Blues), Marty Biron (New York Rangers), Brad Boyes (Buffalo Sabres), Chris Campoli (Montreal Canadiens), B.J. Crombeen (St. Louis Blues), Mathieu Darche (Montreal Canadiens), Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders), Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes), Brandon Dubinsky (New York Rangers), Ruslan Fedotenko (New York Rangers), Alex Goligoski (Dallas Stars), Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg Jets), Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia Flyers), Jamie Langenbrunner (St. Louis Blues), Manny Malhotra (Vancouver Canucks), Steve Montador (Chicago Blackhawks), Dominic Moore (San Jose Sharks), Brendan Morrison (Chicago Blackhawks), Douglas Murray (San Jose Sharks), George Parros (Anaheim Ducks), Chris Phillips (Ottawa Senators), Cory Schneider (Vancouver Canucks), John Tavares (New York Islanders), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators), Kevin Westgarth (Los Angeles Kings), Dan Winnik (San Jose Sharks), James Wisniewski (Columbus Blue Jackets), Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings)