We had a relatively lengthy talk with Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby after practice today. He is obviousy frustrated, and gave a pretty good state-of-negotiations from a player perspective in regard to the collective bargaining agreement talks.
As he has all along, Crosby feels as if the NHLPA is more willing to give and negotiate than the owners. In talks Sunday, the NHL apparently did not budge on its demands for several altered, owner-friendly player contract rights. And that's on top of the major core economic issues.
Crosby also reiterated that as this drags on, he will more seriously ponder signing with a European club. But there are big insurance questions, and he said he hasn't conferred with agent Pat Brisson about the particulars of any offers or possibilities. So, really, it doesn't sound as if he's hit the wall yet where he is bent on going overseas.
Here's a lot of what Crosby had to say. There will be a full story in the Tuesday Post-Gazette:
On the flavor of the talks: It's pretty one-sided. I don't really know what (the owners) have given up to this point. They're trying to take away all the contracting rights. The question I'd ask is why would we change that? I think we all think it's the most competitive league in the world so why would you go and change that -- the way contracts go and the way teams can operate? If it's not broke, don't fix it. I understand their point. At the end of the day it's dollars, but at the end of the day you want to get a deal done. I don't think they're going to get a deal done if they're trying to take away guys' contracting rights.
On specifics of the contracting rights: I think a big issue is the second contracts. A guy like, for instance, this year with Tyler Seguin [who has played two years with Boston and signed a six-year, $34.5 million deal that would kick in next season after his three-year entry-level deal expires]. They have to make a big decision on a guy that's 20 years old. He's a great player, but I think they probably would want more time to make a commitment to a guy long-term. That's a decision you have to make. If you try to change all these things, Ray's [Shero, the Penguins GM] hands are going to be tied. That takes his skill of being a GM or his strength of having to that decision away. So I don't really see the point [of limiting entry-level contracts to two years]. Where do you gain the competitive advantage? If that's the case, you might as well just get someone who's good at crunching numbers sign contracts.
On how he feels: It's just frustrating. You kind of hear the same things coming out of the meetings all the time. Just waiting to hear something new from their side. It's almost to the point where you don't want to ask because you know you're going to get the the same answer you got a week before. ... There's no reason we can't figure something out. I really want to be optimistic. It's not easy right now. It's just a roller coaster ... I don't know what's going to happen.
On the NHL apparently accusing NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr of not fully informing the players: That's just tactics, I think, on their part. We're pretty informed. If he decided he didn't want to [do what we want], there are 15 or 20 other guys [who have been at the talks] who would have told us. I think if the league or anyone negotiating really has something to say, they should say it in a meeting and not to a reporter or a journalist. If they have something to say that's worth getting something accomplished, they should say it in a meeting because all the other stuff doesn't help anything. It's not good for anyone.
On the info flow among the NHLPA: We have a good idea. On the conference calls, it's great. You've got guys who were in the [latest] meeting. You've got guys who are interested in what's going on. And whether they're in the conference call or they're talking to someone who's in the meeting, we have our update every meeting. ... We all the opportunity to say what we want to say. That's the unfortunate thing as far as owners are concerned -- you have two or three owners there. Whether that's the feeling of 30, we don't know. At least with a large number of players, you get a bigger range of possibilities on what they think. [On the other side] you're getting two opinons from owners, and that's about it.
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