|Sidney Crosby and James Reimer attend Tuesday's meeting. (NHLPA)|
The NHLPA is finally set to respond to the NHL's initial offer on Tuesday in Toronto and it shows. Some of the biggest names in the game today showed up to be present for the union's presentation.
According to the NHLPA the players who showed up in Toronto include the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Jason Spezza, John Tavares and even Rick DiPietro. In total 23 players were present (see them all here, here and here) trying to blind the owners with star power, I presume.
Either that or they just wanted to let Gary Bettman know they are sad.
Sucks to hear Bettman say they will lockout....I'm in Toronto on tues for negotiations at— Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) August 13, 2012
In all seriousness, the biggest players are showing because this is probably the biggest day of the negoations by far and this greatly concerns them, obviously. The sides have been at the table for about six weeks and there has been one offer discussed on the main framework. That's not a ton of negotiating. Especially now with what we're hearing about the NHLPA's counterproposal.
Of course, the NHLPA isn't making a true counterproposal here. A report from Michael Grange of Sportsnet indicates that instead the NHLPA is pretty much ignoring the NHL's first offer and presenting an "alternate view." Here's the gist of what is believed to be coming from the NHLPA today.
The NHL's hard salary cap, a concession earned by locking out the players for a season in 2004-05?
Instead how about an NHL featuring a marketplace that allows rich teams to spend what they want and the best players to earn what they're worth?
Rather than an artificial drag on salaries by way of a hard cap, how about a voluntary tax -- a luxury tax -- on teams that see fit to invest in talent?
I think we can pretty clearly see where that "meaningful gulf" that Don Fehr was talking about is coming from. It's so far from the owners' proposal that it can't really be considered a response.
In that way it's pretty brilliant from Fehr and the NHLPA. When the NHL made the first offer it took the leverage of being able to dictate the starting point. Fehr is wiping that out completely with a radically different idea that can't be classified as a response. He's trying to set the tone.
He's also trying to turn this into what it probably should be anyway ... an owner-vs.-owner issue. The bosses don't want to see it that way, that they are their own adversaries, but for any meaningful changes to happen it's probably the right way. That doesn't mean the players should be completely out of it, though.
Of course it's probably going to be met with a ton of backlash, much the same as the owners' original offer that called for a 24 percent rollback for the players' portion of hockey-related revenue.
It should be a fun day and some of the game's best will have a front-row seat for it.