On Thursday, more than 250 NHL players are expected to meet at the NHLPA offices in New York to show their solidarity as a union and lend their support for executive director Donald Fehr.
Capitals veteran left wing Jason Chimera wont be among them hell be taking one of his children to pre-school for the first time.
There are still some things in life that are more important than CBA talks, Chimera said Monday after nearly 90 minutes on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Id rather take my kid to school than go listen to bad news.
The bad news most NHL players are bracing for is that on Saturday night at 11:59 they will be locked out by the leagues 30 owners, beginning the NHLs second work stoppage in eight years.But dont let Chimeras priorities mislead you. In July he left his home in Calgary to spend four days in New York, shortly after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made his first proposal to the players, which called for their share of league revenues sliced from 57 percent to 43 percent.
The leagues most recent proposal increases that share from 43 to 46 percent and includes a five-year maximum on the length of player contracts, but Chimera says that wont be enough to get a deal done.
Its pretty much stalemated, I think, Chimera said.
Chimera said the differences between labor talks this summer and the ones that took place prior to the 2004-05 lockout are night and day. Back then, the players eventually agreed to a salary cap that included a 24 percent rollback on salaries but not until an entire season was lost.
We said no cap and we finally took a cap, Chimera said. Its not easier this year, but theres a deal to be had out there, for sure. Were not trying to get no cap again. Its all divvying up the revenue and who wants a bigger piece of the pie.
As players we want to play and keep the revenues going. If they lock us out, I think it would be pretty unfortunate. I think the games going too well for us to be locked out.
Asked if he has a gut feeling on whether there will be a work stoppage, Chimera said, I hope its short. I hope theres no time lost. Id be ashamed to lose one game, thats for sure. I think as players we put a proposal together that kind of solves the problems of the teams they say are struggling and helps put money in their pockets.
Although few specifics have come from the players proposal, Fehr said it includes a revenue sharing formula that appears to be similar to a luxury tax, in which the leagues more financially stable teams would give financial relief to the leagues struggling teams.
Unfortunately, I dont know if the owners trust each other, Chimera said. They say they want shorter contracts but then Minnesotas majority owner Craig Leopold handed out two 15-year deals for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. So its kind of tough to judge where theyre at.
I dont know if the owners want a CBA that will regulate each other. Our proposal did actually help the little guys out by spreading money. I think the bigger owners like Toronto and New York probably dont want to give money back to the teams that are struggling. But then they want us to have a rollback to foot the bill for that. Its a tough situation.
Like teammate Alex Ovechkin noted last week, Chimera estimates the NHLs most recent proposal would result in a 20 percent rollback in player salaries. And with an estimated record high of 3.3 billion in league revenue last season, hes adamantly against it
Who in their right ," Chimera said. "If youre a reporter or youre a cashier and someone says youre going to take a 20 percent pay cut -- no ones going to say, OK where do I sign up for that?
It gets lost because it is lots of money. We still get money if its a 20 percent pay cut. But with any job, if you get a 20 percent pay cut people are going to find work elsewhere. If youre a pipe fitter and they offer you a 20 percent cutback Ill just go to another refinery and work there.
Its tough. Theres a lot of money at stake and its tough for a regular fan to get into it because people really work hard for 15 bucks an hour or minimum wage. For us to be bickering over 3.3 billion makes it pretty tough for fans to get on anybodys side.