Locked-out NHLPA members 'unified and strong' as NHL cancels more games

The National Hockey League’s rejection of the players’ association’s proposal at the end of intense negotiations last week has further galvanized the union, according to Manny Malhotra.

“There’s guys of the mindset that we’ve given too much and they didn’t want to see us give any more with our last proposal,” Malhotra, the Canucks centre, told reporters Monday following a skate at UBC.

“As far as we’ve come with our last proposal, and for them to reject it outright and call everything off, I think that pissed a lot of guys off and again, similar to their first deal and the beginning of the summer, made us that more unified and strong.”

The league first proposed in July that the players’ share of hockey-related revenue (HRR) drop from the 57 per cent total in the last CBA to 43 per cent.

The two sides now appear to agree on a 50-50 split of revenues, and the NHL had upped its "make whole" provision - payment from owners to the players as the players transition from 57 per cent of HRR in the last CBA to 50 per cent in the next agreement - to $300 million during last week's talks.

The two sides are still divided on length of player contracts and a length of a new CBA.

Malhotra was in New York last week, as a group of players, owners and members of the league and union’s legal teams met for negotiations.

The first day of talks brought overwhelming optimism that the two sides may yet find common ground, reach a new CBA and save the season before Christmas.

However, pessimism took over as negotiations blew up in dramatic fashion after the league rejected the union’s proposal Thursday afternoon. Outrage poured from fans and players who took to Twitter to vent their frustrations almost immediately after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman blasted the union and its executive director Don Fehr during a televised press conference.

“I think you run the whole gambit of emotions throughout these talks,” said Malhotra.

“Right from the get-go, Don mentioned that the biggest thing throughout this whole process is going to be patience and that’s definitely been tested over the past few months and especially last week.”

On Monday, the league cancelled more games, this time through to Dec. 30.

The lockout has now claimed 526 regular season games.

“It’s frustrating. That means it’s 2012 gone,” said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa.

“Most of us thought maybe September – end of September – October, November we’d be able to get a deal done. Right now, this is just unfortunate.”

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