OTTAWA, Ontario - There were some serious moments among the lighter fare at the 2012 NHL All-Star Media Day, perhaps none more serious than Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza's comments about the upcoming NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining agreement negotiations this summer.
Most remember that last time these two sides were negotiating, the entire 2004-05 season was collateral damage in the battle--and in the end, it seemed like the union gave up more than the league. This time, league revenue steadily climbing, the NHLPA won't be eager to give up much more.
"I think the league is making more money than they've ever made and is in good shape," Spezza said. "We gave up quite a bit last time, so I would think that they can figure something out. Between the two sides, there should be a good deal. As players, we want to play, but we want to make sure it's the right deal. I think there's a deal out there that can be made, that's right for both sides."
The biggest difference from the NHLPA side is the introduction of Donald Fehr, the new executive director who memorably led the MLBPA through the 1994–95 MLB strike. Spezza says that Fehr's presence has been good for the players.
"As a union, I feel like we're as organized as we've ever been. [Fehr] speaks well, and he speaks in a manner that all the players understand what he's talking about, and he's not trying to hide anything from us. We know what's going into it."
Spezza is confident that a deal can be made, but his tone hinted at a little bit of cynicism about whether or not it's realistic it will be made this summer. Whether or not that was tough talk leading up to the negotiations or not isn't clear, but one thing is clear: The NHLPA isn't eager to budge much during these negotiations.
"We feel that a lot of concessions were made last time, and we feel that the game's in a very good position," Spezza explained. "So we hope that [the two sides] can reach a deal as soon as possible."