After today’s late-morning skate at UBC, Kevin Bieksa and Corey Schneider fielded a bevy of questions about this morning’s CBA proposal from the NHL owners. What follows is a selection of questions and answers from the reporters (including yours truly) about what Bieksa and Schneider had heard and read about the day’s developments.
A quick reminder, these quotes were given prior to the Donald Fehr and the NHLPA executive committee talking tonight.
Read on past the jump.
Cory Schneider’s Reaction
Is this a significant offer?
It is in principle, the fact they came towards us, is a very good sign. The dollar amount is significant, but is something they were trying to take away from us. It’s a little tough to look at it as a concession from them; it’s making their demands less demanding. I think overall it’s definitely a good sign. If it’s true, that this is the deal they’ve proposed, that’s a good thing, however by no means does that mean we are just going to say ‘yes’ right away. We have to look at it and I’m sure we have to do some things on it.
Is the proposal to still play 82 games a good sign?
Sure of course it is, it would mean players don’t miss paycheques and owners don’t miss out on revenue if the games aren’t cancelled. I’m sure this deal is contingent on us agreeing in the next however-long. If they can’t get the season started by November 2nd the deal’s off the table. I’m sure it’s something along those lines. If that’s the case, I’m sure we’ll have to go over it really quickly and probably try to get back to them with an answer.
Are you excited you could be playing soon?
You can’t get too excited yet, this could still take a long time; by no means is this a done deal. If they’d made a move towards us every time we’d made a move towards them, this would have been done a long time ago. It’s a good sign, it’s positive news, let’s see where it leads.
What about the length of the proposal, does that factor into how the proposal will be understood?
Labour peace is a good thing. As long as we feel it’s a deal that, over the course of six years, will leave the game in a good spot and that we’ll won’t have to come back again in six years and hear the same ‘we need more, we need more, we were too lenient last time.’ If this gets that done, then we’re all for it. If not, we’ll talk more.
On the 50/50 percentage of revenue split…
The player contracting was a huge concern to us, I don’t know if they’ve come off that a bit, but obviously, to them [the owners] the percentage is the biggest part. To us, it’s one of the few big parts; I think contracting and revenue sharing are other key issues for us. It’s a hurdle that has to be overcome at some point. It’s good that we are heading in the right direction.
Does the news the owners have been using focus groups to frame their messaging say anything about their position?
I’m sure they are concerned about their image, a lot of their business is based on marketing and appeal, getting people to come to the rinks and buy their stuff. If people don’t look at them positively, it’s going to affect their bottom line, so I think it’s very obvious that they would want to have a good image. It’s like how we [the players] want to present a good image and that we are justified in what we are doing. I don’t think it’s really a surprise.
What’s the PR game, then? This is about dollars and cents, why does it matter what the fans think?
There’s no game, I just think that we’re trying to present the facts and we’re trying to present our positions, whether or not people agree with it, it’s up to them. But we feel strongly about how we want to get this deal done and ensure that [the deal] is fair for us.
If we can do that and present our case and the fans side with, that’s great, but if not, that’s fine too, that’s their right. We want to hopefully, not alienate them too much that when the game starts up again they’ll come back and support us the way they always have.
Do you think the winter classic factor into the owner strategy?
I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the owners, I’m sure it’s a big pot of revenue for them and a big marketing tool for the league. Who knows; we’re not really sure what they’ve been thinking this whole time and I’m not really sure what this indicates about that.
Kevin Bieksa’s Reaction
What are you hoping for when you read the proposal?
I’m hoping to see that we’re closer than where we’ve been, it has been four weeks and not a lot has happened. Again, I haven’t seen the proposal so it’s hard for me to comment on it, but hopefully after I do look, they’ve made some concessions, and they’ve moved closer to us. It’s not necessarily a matter of meeting halfway, because I feel they started a lot lower than we did, but getting closer to each other.
On the 50/50 split…
I think people have to be cautious about this 50/50 split. This is, as far as I’m concerned, a PR gimmick: it sounds great on paper but everyone should be asking themselves ‘50/50 of what?’ Everything’s relative, it sounds great but if there’s omissions by them [the owners] from what’s included in HRR [hockey related revenue] then we’re making 45 per cent. You have to be careful when you hear the words ‘fifty-fifty’. I don’t really like it. For them it’s a PR gimmick.
Is this a PR effort to turn fans against the players?
I’m sure that’s what they’re trying to accomplish. At least they’ve made a proposal; we feel like we’ve been sitting on nothing for a while, that we’ve been doing the majority of the work, coming to them with creative ideas, with different things and we feel like they haven’t really taken us seriously. For them to counter and submit their own now, it’s something we can work with.