Friday, March 7, 2014
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Sidney Crosby, star of the Pittsburgh Penguins, said “right now it’s not looking great, but things can change pretty quickly.”
The Associated Press
"You get a real sense of the unity and the commitment and the participation and the understanding and the knowledge that these players have," Fehr said. "It's very gratifying.
"The players very much want to reach an agreement, provided that it is one which is fair and which is equitable and treats them appropriately."
Bettman said the union has controlled the scheduling of the meetings and suggested players had reasons for wanting to delay negotiations.
The league tried to start talks last summer, at last winter's All-Star game, during the playoffs last spring and again at the Stanley Cup finals.
"Looking back in hindsight, it looks like there was no urgency on the part of the players' association to engage or get anything done," Bettman said.
Annual industry revenue has grown from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion under the expiring deal. Owners asked players to cut their share of hockey-related revenue during a six-year proposal. Players are concerned management hasn't addressed the league's problems by re-examining the teams' revenue-sharing formula.
The owners' latest offer raised the percentage of hockey-related revenue given to players from the previous proposal of 46 percent. Initially the NHL sought to drop the number from the current 57 percent to 43 .
In the last negotiations, the players' association accepted a salary-cap system for the first time and absorbed a 24 percent rollback on all existing contracts.
Having made those concessions, the union doesn't think it should have to make more this time after a period of record financial growth.
Bettman cited the on-ice success for teams, noting that there have been seven different champions over the course of this contract, and all clubs but the Toronto Maple Leafs qualified for the playoffs at least once.
"We've had seven years of incredible competitive balance," Bettman said. "The game on the ice has never been better. That is a function of this system. The system as originally negotiated needs some adjustments.
"It turned out to be too rich a deal for the first seven years. We lived with it but I'm not going to apologize for saying we need to adjust it."