Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos on the CBA negotiations: "We just want a fair deal"
For Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos, the negotiations between the Players' Association and the league on a new collective bargaining agreement can be boiled down to this: the players, he said, "just want a fair deal."
"If you look at the last deal," Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times, "a lot of people said the players took a big hit in their salary, which they did. We're trying to find a way we can minimize that from a player's perspective but also help the league. I think we're trying to really be in partnership with some of the teams that are really doing well financially and trying to partner with them to help some of the teams that are maybe struggling."
Stamkos was one of 23 players who attended Tuesday's negotiating session in Toronto, where the union made their counter proposal to the league's initial proposal that reportedly cut the players' share of revenues from 57 to 43-46 percent and rolled back salaries 22 percent. It also included some expanded revenue sharing.
Here is what the union proposed, according to various media outlets:
*Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr told reporters in Toronto the union's proposal includes a smaller percentage of revenues for players and an expanded revenue sharing program to help struggling teams. Under the union's proposal, Fehr said the current players could give up as much as $465 million-$800 million depending on how fast league revenues grow.
* Canada's Globe and Mail reported the union's proposal is for three years with an option for a fourth.
* The Toronto Sun reported the union wants to keep current rules for player salaries, contract lengths and free agent eligibility.
* Canada's RDS Network said the union proposal would keep the hard salary cap the league wants.
*The Canadian Press said the proposal includes a luxury tax for teams that exceed the salary cap.
"We do believe that the proposal the players made today, once implemented, can produce a stable industry ... that can gives us a chance to move beyond the recurring labor strife that has plagued the NHL the last two decades," Fehr said.
"That was the main message today," Stamkos said, "trying to find a medium where we can help those higher-income teams and help some of the teams who are struggling and find a way where we can do that where both parties will be happy and satisfied. At the end of the day both sides want to start the season on time. We saw what can happen with previous (work stoppages) and we don't want that. We just want a fair deal that can hopefully start the season on time."
Why did Stamkos, 22, feel the need to be so involved in the process?
"For the young players of this league, this new agreement is going to affect us," he said. "It's important for players not only in my position but players that were there to take an interest and learn as much as we can and be involved in this process. It's been a great learning experience for me."