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11-15-2012, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Chubros View Post
It's a good article - an interesting glimpse of what the owners are thinking.

It also touches on the uncertainty surrounding Fehr's motives. Is he just trying to get the best deal for the players or does "he want to rewrite labour negotiations"?

I believe its more likely the former and that a deal will get done sometime this month, but there are a few reasons to believe the latter:

One is that he may have already squandered his chance to get the best deal for the players: the numbers might not work out that way in the end, but fighting to get an extra percent or two of HRR doesn't benefit the players when the pie itself doesn't include a full season's worth of revenues. A corollary to this is his decision to wait to begin negotiations. It is arguable that this would have made a difference, but some point to it as evidence that he's not trying in good faith to reach an agreement.

The second is the disarray that the PA has been in since Goodenow was fired. The lack of leadership amongst the players makes one think that the NHLPA is vulnerable to being manipulated into following a course harmful to its membership.

Which brings us to the third reason, that Fehr may be acting on ulterior motives. He could be trying to cement his reputation, sort of leave his mark on pro-sports. Coming from baseball, hockey may be a lower-tier sport in his mind, ranking somewhere below Nascar and pro-tiddlywinks, and nuking a couple seasons of hockey might not mean much to him if he thinks he has a shot at scrapping a salary cap.

Finally, consider that Fehr has less skin in the game than anyone else involved. The players lose the most from a lost season, the fans suffer, and most owners are also worse-off. I'd argue that Bettman is basically just an extension of the owners, but go ahead and argue that he's a rogue vampire if you want to do that - remember though that he is forgoing pay during the lockout. The point is that Fehr is least demonstrably hurt by a lost season, and may in fact derive some perverse benefit from it.

I think its more likely that he's just going to push things to the brink before settling, though. At least I keep telling myself that.
I don't think Fehr is acting to cement his reputation or to leave his mark on pro sports. I don't think he's trying to nuke the season to scrap the salary cap. If that was the case, he wouldn't have been making offers to the NHL that would result in the NHLPA taking in below the 57% of HRR they previously earned. I think the NHL just hasn't proposed an offer which Fehr is comfortable with recommending to his membership.

If anyone is acting to cement their reputations, it's Bettman and Daly. They are the ones trying to force through the most restrictive contract rights in pro sports. This isn't just a quibble over a couple of percentage points of HRR, which by the way has moved 5-7 points in the owners direction already. The NHL is trying to limit contract length, extend ELC's to 5 years, raise the UFA age and eliminate salary arbitration. Why would Fehr recommend accepting these conditions. If you were in Fehr's shoes, would you?

Maybe Bettman is angling for David Stern's job in 2014, and has nothing to lose by playing hardball? It's about as plausible as your theory on Fehr.

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