The NHL and NHLPA are meeting Monday, the ninth day of the lockout, but not to discuss a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides are scheduled to sign off on last year’s hockey-related revenue but the leaders for both sides – Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr – are not taking part.
Whether this previously planned discussion to hammer out revenue details – like how much of the players’ 2011-12 escrow payments will be refunded to them in October – might lead to the scheduling of a formal negotiating session is uncertain. The two sides haven’t formally met to work on a new CBA since Sept. 12.
While some players, including Alex Ovechkin, have said they believe the lockout could last a full season and pessimism is mounting about a speedy resolution, not everyone agrees with that assessment.
“It feels different. Last time around we kind of knew it was going to be a long one, probably a full year,” said Mike Ribeiro, who experienced the 2004-05 lockout as well. “This time I think we’re more optimistic that it might happen earlier, hopefully by November so we can have December with hockey.”
Ribeiro plans on staying in the Washington area, where his three children are in school, and said he likely wouldn’t consider playing in Europe unless it’s clear that the lockout would continue for several months. He expects that the lockout will result in the loss of regular season games, but hopes that a deal can be worked out before it causes significant damage to the sport.
“I just don’t see them doing it after [eight] years, doing it for a full year. It just doesn’t make sense for anyone,” Ribeiro said. “You’re losing the game, too. It’s bad for cities that are trying to build it. People will get interested in something else, kids will start playing something else instead of hockey. We need to be aware of that and be smart about it and not drag this [on] too long.”
A few items of note:
— More on Monday’s meeting between the NHL and NHLPA to discuss last year’s revenues from the Toronto Star.
— How the NHLPA has been keeping its constituents informed with a smartphone app, from Sports Business Journal via Sporting News.
— If you missed it over this lovely fall weekend, the NHL fined Red Wings vice president Jim Devellano – reportedly $250,000 — for his comments about the labor negotiations to Island Sports News in British Columbia.
Check out Devellano’s full comments here, including his discussion of “unwritten rules” between teams when it comes to offer sheets for restricted free agents, in the excerpt below:
“It’s very complicated and way too much for the average Joe to understand, but having said that, I will tell you this: The owners can basically be viewed as the Ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the Ranch and allow the players to eat there. That’s the way its always been and that’s the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren’t going to let a union push them around. It’s not going to happen.”
NHL owners and team officials aren’t permitted to speak about the labor negotiations publicly and risk fines or other punishment if they do. Only NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy, Bill Daly are permitted to comment about the NHL’s labor dispute. In a news release Daly called the comments “neither appropriate, nor authorized, nor permissible.” Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika has a good take on the owners’ gag order and Devellano’s statements in general.
Jeff Halpern, who is splitting time during the lockout between Maryland and New York, where some of his new Rangers teammates continue to practice, said Monday he was aware of Devellano’s comments.
“I think it’s just disappointing when a former player makes comments like that. I think everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, from fans to players to management, owners. He’s got a right to speak his mind,” Halpern said. “I think a lot of things we’re trying to do now is to protect the players of the next generation. I wouldn’t want to be sitting there and criticizing the players.”