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'Meaningful gulf' exists between NHL and NHLPA, season won't begin without deal

By Brian Stubits | Hockey writer
Fehr says the sides aren't really close at all. (Getty Images)

The NHL and NHLPA can agree on one thing in their CBA negotiations: They aren't close to agreeing.

After taking a visit to Europe to update the players across the pond on the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement talks, Don Fehr was back at the table on Thursday to sit down with Gary Bettman and the NHL. What they each had to stay afterward was jarring, exactly what any fan did not want to hear.

According to Fehr after their talks on Thursday there is a "meaningful gulf" between the sides. Chris Botta of the Sports Business Journal illustrated the frustrations just a little clearer.

Singing the same tune as Fehr, Bettman said there is "a wide gap" between the sides right now.

Considering they have been at the table for more than a month now, that's exactly what we were hoping NOT to hear when the principal figures actually said something of real substance. Perhaps we're finally getting some strong reactions from the two sides now that the NHL has been able to give the NHLPA the information requested. It took a long time but the NHLPA was finally able to digest all that had been put in front of it. It sounds like they puked.

What's more is that in the past Fehr has intimated that if the owners were OK with it, the season could go on as planned if no new CBA was in place by Sept. 15. There was nothing that prohibitted the league from continuing to operate under the existing CBA until a new deal can be struck.

2012 NHL CBA Talks
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Not in Gary Bettman's NHL is that happenning.

"We reiterated to the union that the owners will not play another year under the current agreement," Bettman said, adding that the NHLPA has known this for a year now.

In other words, if Sept. 15 comes around and there is no new deal agreed to, we'll have ourselves a lockout. So you might as well plan for a lockout. It's really hard to imagine that these negotiations, which are starting to sound a bit toxic, are going to yield a deal in five-plus weeks, particularly with the sides so far apart.

At this point the offer on the table is still the NHL's initial proposal, the principal aspect of that was cutting the players' share of the hockey-related revenue from 57 percent to 46 percent, a significant drop. There are a lot of teams which are in the red across the league right now and the NHL wants to put the onus on the players to fix it essentially, taking from the amount of money the players make to put it into the owners' pockets.

"Seems to us that all of the revenue-sharing payments would be paid for by player salary reductions," Fehr said.

The NHLPA, though, wants some serious revenue sharing/luxury tax system. Remember, Fehr was instrumental in getting that installed in baseball and it has more or less worked well for that sport. Hate the economic system all you want in baseball but fact of the matter is the league hasn't had any labor strife in almost two decades. Hockey only wishes it could say that.

As far as the NHLPA is concerned the revenue sharing needs to be seriously addressed. Apparently that's only the NHLPA that feels that way.

Do you have the warm and fuzzies yet? You shouldn't.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @StubitsCBS on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

 
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