Bettman, Fehr discuss NHL CBA, admit negotiations haven’t begun yet

OTTAWA — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr talked a lot Saturday about the upcoming collective bargaining agreement. But both said little about the whole situation.

It’s a subject that will be in the spotlight from now through an uncertain offseason, with the CBA set to expire Sept. 15. But in town for NHL All-Star weekend, neither side was willing to show its cards publicly. Instead, Bettman and Fehr cautioned that there’s plenty of time to work things out, even though negotiations haven’t really started yet.

“My guess is, at least informally we’ll have some discussions in the not-too-distant future,” Bettman said. “We’re patient. I’m not concerned about the time frame.”

Fehr, who served as the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1985 to 2010, said he would be meeting with Bettman this week, adding that he speaks with the league office about a range of topics often. His adjustment from baseball to hockey has taken time, but he doesn’t think that will be an issue.

“We will be prepared to negotiate an agreement,” Fehr said.

Fehr met with players in Ottawa but wasn’t even open about characterizing the tone of conversation.

“I think it’s focused, I think it’s businesslike. I think they’re getting ready,” Fehr said. “Obviously, when they’re playing commitments for this year end, that will give them a lot more time and opportunity.”

That no real negotiations have started yet between the owners and players doesn’t seem to be an issue, especially given that any talks would likely be deadline-driven anyway. The offseason will go on as usual, even though Washington Capitals All-Star and impending free agent Dennis Wideman said recently he wasn’t sure what would happen this summer.

“It’s not like regular summers in free agency where July 1 comes up and you sign. No one really knows what’s going to happen with the negotiations and where the negotiations are going to be at July 1,” the defenseman said. “Are the GM’s going to even want to sign anybody? No one really knows what’s going on — or I don’t, anyway. I think there’s just a lot of uncertainty about what’s going to happen.”

Fehr cautioned that negotiating a new CBA isn’t like a photo op where it’ll all be underway when cameras catch him and Bettman at a negotiating table. Instead, informal talks will lead to a feeling-out process and then serious talks will begin.

There’s still much to work out, like both sides getting on the same page about revenues and such.

“There’s significant information that we don’t have,” Fehr said. “We have overall revenues for almost all teams … and we have the player-cost numbers. We don’t have the rest of it.”

Getting that is one step of what will likely be an arduous process that hockey fans hope does not cost the NHL any games.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

    Nathan Walker’s NHL dreams send him around the world

  • Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon, third from left, smiles as he warms up with his teammates who were were wearing t-shirts in support of him for the All Star game before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he’s been Nats’ MVP

  • Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter speaks during a media availability in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    LOVERRO: Suck-up Buck Showalter needs history lesson

  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Celebrities In The News
  • Hall of Fame Inductees, KISS, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Ace Frehley speak at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, April, 10, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

    KISS rocker Gene Simmons touts 1 percent life: ‘It’s fantastic’

  • This image from video released by Funny Or Die shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people aged 18 to 34. The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing TV talk show titans like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel for an online audience. (AP Photo/Funny Or Die)

    Obama’s ‘Ferns’ interview gets Emmy nod

  • ** FILE ** In this Nov. 12, 2013, file photo, actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama