NHLPA's Fehr talks realignment, labour on TSN Radio 1050 Staff

12/7/2011 11:08:38 PM

Some of the NHL's hot topics were up for discussion on Wednesday when NHL Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr joined host James Cybulski on Cybulski and Company on TSN Radio 1050 Toronto.

In the days following the announcement of the league's proposed realignment, Cybulski asked Fehr how the Players' Association is reacting the news of a new four-conference format.

"As a general matter we think this needs to be negotiated with us. But hopefully we'll be able to do that," said Fehr.

"You want to look at how the travel affects players on all the teams, you want to look at the playoff picture and how that will be affected," continued Fehr. "On a percentage basis, (we want to look at) whether it's significantly more or less likely in a division or conference that somebody is going to be able to make the playoffs than others."

Fehr explained that the players would also like some of the background that led to the decision shared with them.

"You've got fundamental fairness questions, and what we have to do is have discussions with the league, and see all the information which informed their thinking and see why they reached the conclusions that they did.

"We'll talk about things that are of interest to the players, go back and consult with the membership and hopefully we can come out with something that everyone can agree with before too long," said Fehr.

Cybulski asked Fehr about some of the concerns that the players are expressing in advance of negotiations for a new labour deal. The current labour agreement expires at the end of the season.

"Generally, players are concerned about the upcoming negotiations and want to make sure that we reach a fair agreement - and not everybody has the same view on all issues as to what a fair agreement is."

"There's no doubt that escrow is something that gets under people's skin a little bit. What it you say 'I signed a contract that was going to pay me 'x' and it didn't'. That's a real problem and any of us would have that kind of problem.

"Escrow situations are endemic to salary cap situations. Is that an issue that the players pay attention to? Of course it is."

Fehr was also asked when he might first speak with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about opening negotiations for a new deal.

"It will probably be after the (Jan. 29) All-Star Game, and there will probably be some preliminary conversations between now and then about how we set it up. There's plenty of time - the agreement doesn't expire for nine months from next week - so there's plenty of time there," said Fehr.