Capitals left wing Jason Chimera knows what its like to lose an entire season of hockey. He was a member of the Edmonton Oilers during the 2004-05 NHL lockout and opted to play in Italy for 15 games.
Back then Chimera saw the writing on the wall. The leagues owners refused to move off their demand for a salary cap, the players boldly called their bluff, and an entire season was lost.
This time around Chimera is more optimistic about the labor talks between the NHL and its players.
I think things are different this time around, Chimera told Slam Sports. The lines of communication are definitely open.
I was in New York for one of the meetings and it was pretty cordial. Everyone was talking about things and no one was up in arms and saying things like, Im not talking to you again until you propose this, which is good. Theyre talking about the little things too, which means when it all comes into place that itll happen a little bit quicker.
Negotiations between the two sides took an interesting turn on Wednesday when commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly spent two hours with NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and his brother, Steve Fehr, before postponing formal negotiations until Thursday.
I think more than anything else it was to review where we are in the process, where weve come from, where we are with the various proposals and to determine how to move the process forward in the best way possible hoping and understanding that both sides are committed to using the time left to making a deal as quickly as possible, Daly told The Canadian Press.
The deadline for a new agreement is Sept. 15, one day before the start of training camps.
The owners and players have exchanged proposals that are centered around how 3.3 billion in annual revenue should be divided.
You look at the revenue that the league has made, Chimera said. It would seem pretty dumb to have a lockout now.
The owners have asked the players to reduce their share from 57 percent to 46 percent, while the players have presented a formula in which big-market teams offer more assistance to small-market teams.
I thought our proposal, which I was involved a bit with, was pretty good, Chimer said. We proposed revenue sharing and ways that the league could fix some of the problems that they say they have as we go along.
Chimera said there is far more at stake than billionaire owners and millionaire players getting richer.
I know its tough for fans to take sides in this when people are basically fighting over money. I know its tough for fans to see that, Chimera said.
What everyone has to remember its not just our livelihoods that are just on the line, its the people that work at the arenas and people that work around the game. Theres a lot of livelihoods at stake and I think the players and the owners have to take that into consideration, too.