By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Nov. 21) – As the emotional pendulum of the NHL lockout continues swaying to and fro, there is still abundant opportunity for the owners and players to bridge their differences. But, time is running short.
“What the Players Association put forth today does not contain the parameters of a deal and you can be sure Donald Fehr knew that before it was presented,” said a well-known league source who continues to speak openly with me on the obvious condition of anonymity. “It is something, in my opinion, the two sides can fundamentally work with and I don’t sense there will be much of a lull in negotiation. Losing the entire season is still avoidable but [the proposal] doesn’t address the key issues, primarily those involving contract matters.
“The ‘make-whole’ argument and the variables of a 50/50 split in revenue continue to be major stumbling blocks,” said the source. “The P-A’s insistence on transitioning [toward 50/50] is problematic. The NHL is also seeking a longer CBA term – at least seven years, so as not to disrupt the league’s 100th anniversary season [2017-18].
“But, as critical, like I told you the other day, are matters pertaining to free agency, arbitration, [contract] term limits and entry-level allotment. They will form the meat of a new CBA. Fehr admitted that again this morning.”
BILL DALY AND GARY BETTMAN ARRIVE FOR TALKS TODAY IN NEW YORK.
Indeed, the P-A’s executive director told reporters in New York, “We’ve moved in their direction previously on a couple of contracting issues. The rest are very, very, very important to the players.”
Regarding the matter of compensating for lost revenue during the labor dispute – which commissioner Gary Bettman addressed today – my source replied, “Important but an ancillary issue. Once the bigger arguments are settled, it will fall in line. This is an owners’ lockout but the players pissed away three months before coming to the table. They share in the damage.”
PLAN FOR PAUL: Team Canada hero and former NHLer Paul Henderson will be signing copies of his new memoir – THE GOAL OF MY LIFE – at Indigo in the Yorkdale shopping centre on Saturday, December 1 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Henderson, courageously battling a form of Leukemia, wrote the book with Sportsnet-590 host Roger Lajoie to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his legendary goal that decided the 1972 summit series with the Russians.
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