NHL players place trust in Fehr's response

NHL players place trust in Fehr's response
October 17, 2012, 4:30 pm
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The NHL’s decision to make public its latest proposal to the players kind of reminds us of those cheesy marriage proposals we see on the big screens at sporting events.

You know, where the poor girl is pressured to say yes in front of 20,000 strangers.

For the record, Don Fehr and the players’ association are not going to say yes to Gary Bettman’s very public proposal for a six-year marriage.

The key is for Fehr to come up with a counter-proposal that does not sever negotiations with Bettman altogether.

That counter-proposal is expected to come from the players on Thursday, after hours and hours of combing through the NHL’s proposal and tweaking the numbers to appease his 700-plus constituents.

“He reads every last sentence,” Capitals forward Jason Chimera said. “That’s what’s good about him. He’s pretty thorough. He wants to get to the bottom of everything.”

Capitals forward Matt Hendricks agrees.

“He’s extremely knowledgeable when it comes to this type of stuff,” Hendricks said, “but to be able to show us all of the details and explain it to us in somewhat layman’s terms – he’s been very informative and I expect nothing but his continued leadership.”

According to a letter Fehr sent to the players Tuesday night, under the NHL’s proposal players are being asked to have 12.3 percent of their annual salaries placed in escrow. Chimera said he fears he won’t see much of that come back in the form of an escrow check this time next year.  

“We don’t feel we should take a pay cut,” Chimera said. “We’re willing to concede in some of the later years [of an agreement]. We want to give back, but we don’t want to concede that first couple of years of the deal. We want to get paid our full contracts, face value, not through escrow.

“We’re willing to give some back, but if you go down to 50-50 right away it’s going to be a big chunk of change for us. The big thing is lowering that cap and I think a lot of guys get squeezed out. A lot of fourth-line guys or older guys might get squeezed out because they want to bring young guys in that are cheaper.”

That’s why Fehr is likely to come back with a counter-proposal that has the players’ share of revenue falling in smaller increments – say, 54 percent this year, 52 percent the next two years and 50 percent in Years 4, 5 and 6.

Capitals forward Matt Hendricks joked that when the “Big Four” – Bettman and his deputy Bill Daly and Fehr and his deputy and brother, Steve Fehr – get together anything is possible.

“There’s a common ground and we need to meet there,” Hendricks said. “It’s exciting news that it’s on the table now, but it’ll be very exciting when this is done and that’s what we’re hoping for.”