A new NHL labor deal might not be as far off as it seems.
Steve Fehr, special counsel to the NHL Players’ Association, believes the collective bargaining agreement can be wrapped up in a hurry once the sides make a breakthrough in negotiations.
‘‘One thing [deputy commissioner] Bill Daly and I agree upon is that when the moment is right the deal could be done very quickly,’’ Fehr said Monday during a panel discussion at the PrimeTime Sports Management Conference in Toronto. ‘‘One day, three days or whatever.’’
Asked later if he agreed with that assertion, Daly replied: ‘‘I hope he’s right.’’
Representatives from the NHL and NHLPA have met seven of the last nine days, but no future talks are planned. Fehr told the panel that three issues remain to be solved: the split of money, player contract rights, and who pays for the damage caused by the lockout.
Fehr and Daly discussed the player rights issue during a meeting Sunday afternoon, and the union leader doesn’t believe it will ultimately keep them from striking a deal.
‘‘We’re not making any real progress in those areas,’’ Fehr said. ‘‘It’s kind of hard to believe anyone’s going to drive the industry bus off a cliff over things like that, but I've seen things before that surprise me.’’
On a more positive note, he indicated that the sides were ‘‘fairly close’’ to an agreement on revenue sharing. It’s believed the NHL is willing to bump the annual pot to $220 million from its current position of $140 million.
Four inducted into Hall
The lockout was a hot topic prior to Monday night's induction ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Three inductees — Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, and Adam Oates — were also in the NHL when the last lockout hit, while Pavel Bure, the fourth member of the class, was already retired.
Sundin never managed to win a Stanley Cup during his career and can’t help but wonder what could have been had the 2004-05 season been played. His Maple Leafs were on a run of six consecutive playoff appearances before that work stoppage. ‘‘It was awful,’’ said Sundin. ‘‘I think it’s devastating.’’
As for the current labor situation, Sakic said: ‘‘It hurts the players, it hurts the owners, it hurts the fans, and it hurts the game.’’
Sundin is back living in his native Sweden now but the impact of another work stoppage hasn’t gone unnoticed even from a distance.
‘‘The National Hockey League is kind of representing the game of hockey,’’ he said. “It’s the biggest representative of the game of hockey in the world. When the NHL is not going, people lose focus on hockey. For everybody that is involved in the sport, it’s huge to get the guys back playing as soon as possible.’’