SUN Hockey Pool

Don't call league, players' relationship a partnership

Scott Hannan, who spent last season with the Calgary Flames trying the keep the likes of former...

Scott Hannan, who spent last season with the Calgary Flames trying the keep the likes of former Flyers forward and Maple Leafs acquisition James van Riemsdyk under wraps, signed a one-year deal with the Nashville Predators yesterday. (QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:26 PM ET

Call the relationship between the National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association many things, but don’t refer to it as a partnership.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr couldn’t have made that more clear during a conference call with media on Friday afternoon.

“If we are partners, do we have joint control?” Fehr said after wrapping up two days of meetings with players in Chicago.

“Do we get to have an equal say on how the marketing is done, how the promotion is done, where the money is invested, where the franchises are located? Do we have an equal say when on teams are sold where the money goes? Do we get part of that? Do we have an equal say on how the television arrangements are done? Do we have an equal say on anything?

“That’s what a partnership normally implies.”

Fehr said he plans to talk to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the weekend before the two are scheduled to resume negotiations on the hardcore issues on Wednesday and Thursday in Toronto.

If there is going to be a lockout — and Bettman has said the owners will take that course of action if no new CBA is reached on or before Sept. 15 — it’s fairly obvious to any observer it’s going to happen because of disagreements on economics.

Hockey matters, Fehr said, have led to some harmony.

“On a lot of the areas which are not the core economic areas, there has been a lot of good discussion and I am reasonably optimistic that common ground is being found,” Fehr said.

Fehr was asked about getting to a 50/50 split between players and owners in hockey-related revenues, but explained it’s not easy to arrive at what appears to be a simplistic number.

“Let me caution you when you start talking about 50/50 splits,” Fehr said. “If you start talking about all revenue, as opposed to hockey-related revenue, we calculate it the players are already at 50/50.

“If you look at what the fair-market value for players is, it is vastly higher than 57% (which is what the players get now). We know that because we know what players were paid before the salary cap was instituted.”

The salary cap, which became part of the NHL in 2005 after the 2004-05 lockout, is something that Fehr doesn’t like, but accepts the players have to live with it.

“There are no caps on what a general manager gets paid, there are no caps on a head coach, there are no caps on ticket prices, there are no caps on what a franchise sells for, there are no caps or limitations on anything but players’ salaries,” Fehr said. “The fundamental question you have to ask if you are going to go down that route, is how in the world did you ever get into that situation?”

Fehr will meet with players in Kelowna, B.C., and Toronto before he gets into the same boardroom with Bettman next Wednesday.

LITTLE MOVEMENT

A sign, perhaps, that teams aren’t sure about the future was highlighted on Friday when the Nashville Predators signed defenceman Scott Hannan to a one-year contract.

Hannan, who spent last season with the Calgary Flames, is the first player of note to change teams via free agency since July 26, when forward Alexander Semin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes after seven seasons with the Washington Capitals.

Some good options remain on the free-agent market, most notably forward Shane Doan, whose summer has been put in a holding pattern because of the uncertainty surrounding the Phoenix Coyotes’ ownership situation.

Among those still looking for jobs are defencemen Carlo Colaiacovo, Chris Campoli and Jaroslav Spacek, and forwards Jason Arnott, Dominic Moore and Kristian Huselius.

As the labour strife continues, however, players without contracts could find it harder to secure them.

As well as the remaining free agents, some players who might have thought they would have new homes by now via trade — Roberto Luongo, Bobby Ryan and Jay Bouwmeester — are waiting to find out whether they will have to house-shopping before the start of the 2012-13 season, whenever that might be.

AROUND THE RINKS

The Montreal Canadiens have extended the contract of director of player development Trevor Timmins, hired former player Donald Audette as an amateur scout and Mark Mowers as a pro scout ... NHLers Kris Versteeg, Kevin Bieksa, Tanner Glass and Darcy Hordichuk played in a charity game in Crowsnest Pass, Alta., on Thursday night in honour of former player Rick Rypien, who took his own life last summer. The NHLPA donated 50 sets of new hockey equipment in Rypien’s name to the community.


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