NHLPA leader: Deal can be quick after breakthrough

Associated Press Modified: November 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm •  Published: November 12, 2012
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The NHL lockout started in mid-September and forced the cancellation of all regular-season games through Nov. 30. A deal likely would need to be struck early next week for a shortened season to begin Dec. 1.

On Monday, Fehr was joined on the labor issues panel by Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, New York Giants assistant GM Kevin Abrams and Toronto Raptors vice president Ed Stefanski.

Most of the talk centered on the NHL negotiations, which kept Burke uncharacteristically quiet because team officials can be fined up to $1 million for speaking about the CBA. At one point, he quipped: "This is painful."

Fehr also spoke of his experiences with the Major League Baseball Players' Association, where he earned the nickname "Designated Optimist" during the 2002 talks, and observed that lockouts seem to have become unavoidable in sports with a salary cap.

"It's almost as if in the capped sports it's become a rewriting of the Hippocratic Oath," Fehr said. "Instead of 'first, do no harm,' it's first lockout and then we'll see what happens. I guess they've decided they can live with how the fans feel about it and they're not going to be shy about doing it."

He also hinted that NHL owners might not be taking the union seriously during these negotiations.

"It does remind me certainly of some disputes long ago in baseball," Fehr said. "In some ways, it reminds me of baseball in the '80s and maybe the early '90s before the baseball owners, in our view, accepted that the union was here to stay and wanted to make a deal with the union as opposed to fighting with the union.

"We'll see."