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Labor Log: Adams, ‘If anybody is suggesting that Don’s holding information back, that’s totally untrue.’

Friday was many things, but probably mostly the best example of how Twitter has re-shaped – and probably not in a good way – the way we among the unwashed media do our jobs.

First, the Trib’s story about the actual NHL and NHLPA labor negotiations: http://triblive.com/sports/2926918-85/negotiations-players-nhl-union-friday-labor-week-adams-penguins-lockout#axzz2BmP55pI4

• On any other day that would be the biggest development, but after meetings broke Friday afternoon there was reaction and response to this report by supremely respected Minneapolis Star Tribune beat man Mike Russo: http://www.startribune.com/sports/blogs/178216921.html

The part of that blog post that most sticks out to these eyes:

“The NHL was perplexed by a memo that NHLPA executive director Don Fehr sent his 725 constituents on Thursday night that stated there’s a “significant gap” between the two sides, according to multiple NHL sources close to the negotiations.

“The league feels the memo isn’t a fair portrayal of what the owners offered.”

TSN.ca posted that memo from Fehr to players early Friday. Here is a link: http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=409136

• OK, so there is a lot going on here.

It is not incorrect to suggest, as this blog did Thursday, that the NHL does not know what to make of Fehr. Feel free to re-read that Chipped Ice post: http://blog.triblive.com/chipped-ice/2012/11/08/labor-log-nhlpa-benefitting-because-fehr-is-confounding-nhl/

It is worth noting – perhaps vital to note, actually – that not one player with whom I’ve spoken over the last four months of negotiations, and that group includes players who are not members of the Penguins, not one of those players has so much as hinted that Fehr is not communicating expertly and clearly with players.

From a star (Sidney Crosby) to a role player (Joe Vitale), every Penguins player has praised the communication of Fehr and his brother, Steve Fehr, the union special counsel.

Tweets on Friday by many colleagues that cover other clubs backed up the sentiment that players are thrilled with the way NHLPA executives have relayed information since Fehr took his post in December 2010.

• Craig Adams, the Penguins union rep who has attended many negotiating meetings, including one Tuesday in New York, shared his thoughts on this topic late Friday:

Q: Can you describe the method for communication this week between NHLPA executives and the players?

A: Sometimes there would be a conference call or a memo would go out to everybody. Some days, because meetings have started early and ended late, there have been memos. It depends on the length of a meeting and the situation, but there is always either a call or memo – and on every player can get on one of those calls. It wasn’t just the 30 reps.

Q: Is there any reason to believe information has been kept from players?

A: Certainly, Don didn’t relay every detail of every meeting in the (Wednesday) memo. That would be pretty long memo. If anybody is suggesting that Don’s holding information back, that’s totally untrue.

Q: Do details that are surfacing about the latest NHL offers sound like what you were told on either a call or in a memo?

A: They didn’t inform us of that (50/50 and contracts honored plus interest) because that’s not true. Owners aren’t willing to make whole every cent plus interest. That’s not true. There are other players in the room when the league makes proposals. I’m not going into specifics of what was said on our call (Friday night), but I can tell you that’s not true. That wasn’t the offer.

• Players were galvanized by the NHL’s original offer in July, which called for a reversal of the 57/43 revenue split on the last CBA. It will be fascinating – and perhaps telling as to where this labor dispute goes – to see this development regarding union transparency plays out.

There is a math issue that divides the NHL and NHLPA. However, there is also a human element that must be overcome.

Players deeply distrust owners, who are growing or have grown to deeply distrust Fehr.

After four days of negotiations is it possible that the best hockey fans can hope for is that the math issue is still the one that really matters?

If so, well, yikes.

Cheers,

Rossi

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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