NHL Union Head Don Fehr Hopes League Will Not Lock Out Players
The new head of the National Hockey League Players Association is optimistic that the league will not lock out its players if a new collective bargaining agreement won't be reached by September 15.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr is also hoping that the season will start on time while negotiations are ongoing.
Fehr, a former head of the baseball players union, announced Monday that negotiations for a new CBA between the league and its players could begin week.
Fehr said they could start negotiating with the league after their executive board meeting Wednesday but he never mentioned a specific date.
The two sides are hoping to agree on a deal before September 15, the expiry date of the current agreement that was reached after the league cancelled the 2004-05 season. That agreement included a salary cap for the first time.
The NHL is trying to avoid the labor debacle suffered by the NBA this season and the NFL last year. The NBA played an abbreviated season after a five-month dispute resulted to a lockout until late December. The NFL also had a lockout that shortened training camp last year.
A potential debacle in the negotiations could be the division of revenue as NHL team owners may seek to reduce the players share from 57 percent to around 50 percent, just like what NBA and NFL team owners managed to do.
"Certainly it is possible they'll try and do that," Fehr said, adding that there is no clear indication that NHL team owners would pursue that direction.
While the NHL said it is very transparent and forthcoming about opening its financial books to the union, Fehr asserted that "there's significant information we don't have."
For his part, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that a new collective bargaining deal could be reached as soon as possible for everybody's best interest.
"My hope is that we get together, and that collective bargaining be painless and quick. That would serve everybody's best interest," Bettman said.
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