NHL Lockout: Donald Fehr and the NHLPA Remain Pessimistic About Negotiations

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2012

Donald Fehr expressed frustration in a memo to players that detailed the lack of progress in negotiations.
Donald Fehr expressed frustration in a memo to players that detailed the lack of progress in negotiations.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Three consecutive days of talks could have given the NHL and the NHL Players' Association traction in the negotiations process.

That's what all hockey fans and those outside of the bargaining meetings were hoping for when it was heard that talks between the two sides were continuing this week.

However, according to Donald Fehr's memo (via Darren Dreger of TSN.ca) to the players after the Nov. 8 session, the talks are producing very little substance when it comes to reaching an agreement.

The season is slipping away, and the number of potential games that the league can play in the 2012-13 season is dwindling.

Fehr's memo states that the NHL still wants to impose a 50 percent share of hockey-related revenues on the NHLPA immediately. Fehr and the players are willing to accept that figure in year three, but they are not ready to accept that figure at this point in the negotiations.

Fehr also says that some of the other issues that the league is proposing would damage players. Those issues include losing a year of salary arbitration eligibility, extending unrestricted free agency eligibility to age 28 or eight seasons, limiting contracts to five years and allowing just five percent year-to-year earning variance in player contracts.

"Individually each is bad for players; taken together they would significantly reduce a player's bargaining power and give the owner much more leverage over a player for most if not all of his career," Fehr wrote in his memo.

Fehr contended in his memo that the players are conceding between $948 million and $1.25 billion (depending on HRR growth), but that figure is not enough for the NHL.

He concluded in his memo that while meetings are taking place between the two sides, there is still a great distance to be covered before an agreement can be reached.

In reading between the lines, the NHLPA still feels that the NHL is trying to shove a deal down the throats of players that they are not ready to accept.

The release of the memo could have some impact on the tone of upcoming sessions.

The memo did not belittle or insult NHL commissioner Gary Bettman or individual NHL owners, but it did express frustration with the pace and tone of negotiations.

Prior to the release of the memo, both sides had refrained from public comment on the substance of the talks.

Bettman and his team may have a reaction to the memo being leaked, and that could change the negotiating dynamic once again.