Two hours after the NHL Players Association made what many consider to be its last best offer, the owners threw it back across the table and said it’s not good enough.
They’ll be skiing in Phoenix before the union takes another backward step and the league is refusing to budge on any major issues.
It seems the only thing left to do is cancel more games and curse the entire process.
Needless to say, there were some very frustrated and angry players who emerged from the bargaining session Wednesday afternoon, including Shawn Horcoff.
“Extremely disappointed,” said the Oilers captain, part of the NHLPA’s team in New York. “It shows what we’ve been saying all along: Gary Bettman has a timeline of when he wants to get this done and it’s not right now.
“We worked all day Tuesday on this, made significant moves in their direction. They looked at it, talked about it, called us back in after two hours and made zero moves on any of the major issues.
“It shows they’re not prepared to get a deal done.”
A lot of hockey people were optimistic the PA’s offer would at least get the negotiations moving, instead, all it generated was a ‘No.’
So there is no hockey.
“They did not move on single thing towards us,” said Horcoff. “It’s frustrating. It shows that it didn’t matter what we gave. Unless we agreed to what they want, which is everything — everything — there’s no deal to be done. There’s not even a framework to move forward with.”
The players made concessions on a couple of big issues, agreeing to a 50-50 revenue split in year one, provided the NHL is willing to negotiate on its $211 million Make Whole provision (money used to honour existing contracts).
“We don’t feel like $211 was enough to make us whole and they moved zero dollars,” said Horcoff.
That’s what burns the players. The men who signed all those inflated contracts in the final hours of the old CBA are now willing to scrap the season rather than honour those contracts.
“The players, more than anything, just want them to commit to the contracts that they signed,” said Horcoff. “And $211 million isn’t going to cut it.”
So now what? The players aren’t going to negotiate with themselves, and the NHL isn’t willing to budge — “Any expectation that our offer is going to get better as time goes on is not realistic,” said Bettman — so the season is in big trouble.
“Right now there’s a lot of dejection,” said Horcoff. “Even if they would have come to us on one or two things you could have continued to negotiate. But what’s there to talk about right now?
“They didn’t come our way on anything, it’s really hard to continue negotiations. I’d be surprised if the negotiations don’t get stalled because of this.
“We keep giving, giving, giving and get nothing in return. That’s one thing now that the players are starting to question — there has to be something in this deal for us, also. As of now we’re receiving nothing.
“We’ve already given two arms and a leg. We’ve only got one leg left. We’re hopping around here.”
Devan Dubnyk doesn’t understand why Bettman insists on hacking away at players contractual rights, like term, free agency and arbitration, when they’ve already agreed to a 50-50 split.
“It doesn’t seem to make sense,” said Dubnyk. “Those are things that players fought for and missed an entire year for and they are literally proposing to take all of it back.
“If the percentage is set, I don’t understand why they are fighting so hard to control where it goes.”