“We haven’t heard from them individually. They have their priorities. We have ours. We were willing to give something back. It’s a little counterintuitive for them not to share revenue but take that revenue from us.”
In the fourth and final year, the players would return to receiving 57 percent of HRR.
“The response made to us is that if the players are not prepared to agree to an immediate rest in aggregate salary levels — a meaningful, absolute reduction in player share in dollar terms for next year compared to last year — they see no point in discussing or responding to the proposals we put forward at the meeting today,” Fehr said.
Not even a framework
Secondary issues also exist. In its first proposal, the NHL mandated a five-year cap on contract terms and a 10-year period before players are eligible for unrestricted free agency. The NHLPA has raised concerns regarding ice conditions, player discipline, and scheduling.
Those issues, however, are ancillary compared with the fundamental disagreement regarding salary share. Because of how prickly the argument has become, the sides have yet to concur on the basic framework of a new CBA. The NHL has proposed a six-year term. The NHLPA’s offer is a three-year agreement, with an option for a fourth year. So far, there has been no common ground on the biggest issue.
“Somebody needs to be in a position to offer or say something new,” Bettman said. “Considering we made such a large move on [Aug. 28], to have gotten the response we got is disappointing. We’re not in a position to offer more and negotiate against ourselves.”
Next week, players will go to New York for meetings with the NHLPA and the negotiating committee. It’s possible that formal negotiations could restart next week.
However, there has been little urgency of late. Players do not receive salary during training camp. They train throughout the summer and are instructed to report to camp in peak condition for fitness testing. Given their conditioning, players might not need camp to prepare themselves for game shape.
If a lockout takes place, alternate plans will begin. Some players may consider going overseas. High insurance costs, however, may discourage them from seeking European employment. It is not guaranteed that an acquiring team would insure a player’s NHL contract.
Younger NHLers could play in the AHL. Providence will start camp Sept. 28. During the 2004-05 lockout, players not subject to waivers were eligible to play in the AHL. Bruins who fit that criterion include Jordan Caron and Torey Krug.
“We’d spend more time down there,” Chiarelli said of shifting hockey operations toward Providence. “We’d be repositioning some of our pro scouts more toward the American League and a little bit of amateur. I’d be on the road more.”
With the current CBA just a week away from expiration, time is getting short.
“It’s definitely coming by a little quicker than we’d like,” said Daniel Paille, the Bruins’ union representative. “It’s something that we didn’t want, but sort of expected. We feel that we can do as much as we want the right way. We’ve just got to wait. Eventually, something will get done and we’ll all be happy.”
On Thursday, Paille was part of a group of players skating at a rink in Boston. Other Bruins included Johnny Boychuk, Anton Khudobin, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, and Shawn Thornton.
Following drills, they concluded their morning session with a game of shinny. They skated at approximately 75 percent of their usual top-flight speed. They didn’t take many slap shots. There was no checking. There wasn’t a single fan in the stands.