Salary rollbacks not an option: Fehr

NHLPA director Donald Fehr. (TIM SLOAN/AFP file photo)

NHLPA director Donald Fehr. (TIM SLOAN/AFP file photo)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:50 AM ET

Neither Donald Fehr nor Gary Bettman has been willing to say much this week regarding the intricacies of collective bargaining agreement negotiations in Toronto.

But some details of an NHL proposal to the NHL Players’ Association emerged on Friday night via RDS, and if they have not already, the negotiations could start getting nasty.

It was reported that the NHL wants to reduce the players’ share of hockey-related revenues to 46% from 57%; that players spend 10 seasons in the league before hitting unrestricted free agency; that contracts are limited to five years; that salary arbitration is abolished; and that entry-level contracts become five years instead of three.

As initial proposals go, there certainly is a lot there to draw the players’ ire.

Fehr, the NHLPA executive director, made something rather clear earlier Friday when he talked to reporters following the latest session.

Salary rollbacks aren’t going to happen under his watch.

“What do I think about salary rollbacks?” Fehr said when asked that question. “I think basically what most people representing employees would think about salary rollbacks. What I’m sure you would think about salary rollbacks if they came to you. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what that is.

“I certainly assume that the owners would intend to comply with all of the contracts they have signed, and nobody has suggested (anything) to the contrary.”

By the time the players were back on the ice in 2005 after the lockout, they had agreed to 24% rollbacks.

Fehr has no problem negotiating past Sept. 15, when the current CBA expires, if signs point to a peaceful resolution.

But Bettman doesn’t want to look that far ahead.

“I’m not going to speculate as to what we may or may not do in the future,” the NHL commissioner said after the league and the players wrapped up a fifth negotiating session.

“Our goal is to make a deal as quickly as possible. We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time and I think both sides are working very hard at it.”

Said Fehr: “The optimum would be to get a deal done as soon as you could, but if there is some demarcation point it has to be done by, no one has told us that yet and I know the law does not include one. There is no reason that by date X or Y you have to do something other than keep negotiating. But that’s a matter of choice.”

Fehr, naturally, has no interest in another work stoppage similar to the lockout that laid a season to waste.

“I have always viewed a strike as a last resort and what a last resort means is you bargain in good faith, you do everything you can and you listen carefully to what the other side says, you make counter-proposals when you can, and you keep at until you get an agreement,” Fehr said. “Hopefully the other side shares that.”

Meetings will continue next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in New York, and there is a tentative schedule for meetings each week through July.

SORRY FOR BEING IDIOTIC

The last thing New Jersey Devils forward Cam Janssen should be getting for apologizing for making profanity-laced remarks, some with a homophobic bent, during an interview is a pat on the back.

Janssen, who was not good enough to actually play for the Devils during the playoffs, shouldn’t have said what he said in the first place during something on the Internet called “The Thom and Jeff Show” earlier this week.

“I would like to apologize for my poor choice of language,” Janssen said in a statement released by the team. “The tone of the interview was very casual and off-colour, and I lost focus on what is and what is not acceptable and professional. I am deeply sorry to anyone who was offended by my language.”

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello must have been thrilled.

But if nothing else, at least Janssen’s stupidity has brought further light to the You Can Play Project, which is dedicated to ensuring safety, equality and respect for all athletes regardless of sexual orientation.

“Having spoken with Cam, we believe his apology to be sincere,” You Can Play said in a statement. “We believe that he will do his best to change his vocabulary going forward.”

ICE CHIPS

Bettman on whether the Phoenix Coyotes will be in Phoenix next season: “That’s the plan.” … Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson told TSN on Friday night that he would be looking for two NHL-ready forwards in any trade for Rick Nash. Howson also denied he has talked to the Los Angeles Kings about goalie Jonathan Bernier … Nice to see the Winnipeg Jets reward Kyle Wellwood for recording a career-high 47 points for them last season. Wellwood has been signed to a one-year deal worth $1.6 million, a $900,000 raise over the salary he made in 2011-12. The Jets also signed defenceman Paul Postma to a one-year, one-way pact … A couple more players have avoided salary arbitration, as the Montreal Canadiens signed defenceman Raphael Diaz and the Colorado Avalanche signed forward Jamie McGinn. That leaves just 11 players with arbitration dates. Cases will begin to be heard on July 20 in Toronto … Three 2012 first-rounders — Filip Forsberg of the Washington Capitals, Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks and Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres — signed entry-level deals on Friday.


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