David Backes of the St. Louis Blues is an American hero and therefore speaks with authority on a great many things.
Backes opined on the NHL's latest CBA proposal to the players, which offered a 50/50 split on revenue and maintained an 82-game regular season, Tuesday night on Josh Rimer's NiteCap program,
"I thought it was a gesture in the right direction. That they're willing to finally take these negotiations seriously," said Backes.
"I think the NHL's finally off their substantially one-sided proposal. We're speaking in real terms and hopefully we can work it out."
The NHL's proposal was a four to five page document that broadly sketched its plans for the next CBA. Backes said that some subjects — specifically Hockey Related Revenue — needed clarification, as they could potentially lower the players' share.
Can the NHLPA, which intends to issue a counteroffer on Thursday, help get this thing settled in time for an 82-game season?
"Right now, it's anyone's guess. Beginning today, I think it was in the back of my mind that we're either going to make a lot of progress this week and get something done, or we're headed down a road that no one wants to go down, and that's a big cancellation of games and perhaps really bunkering each side in and potentially losing a full season," said Backes.
"The fact that the NHL came with a proposal really was a gesture that they want to get something done. We're excited about it, but there's still work to be done."
It's one thing to be excited; it's another thing for Donald Fehr to make a deal this early in the process, having spent months getting the players to dig their heels in for a prolonged fight.
Do the players believe he can get a deal done?
"I think the players have had a ton of conversation with him. We want a fair deal that gets us back on the ice," said Backes.
The Blues captain has opted not to play overseas during the lockout, while eight of his teammates have left for other work. "I love my North American way of living," he told Rimer. (Ed. Note: He obviously means the quality of our BBQ.)
Backes said he doesn't take issue with players that did leave for teams overseas, and sounded as if he expected they'd return when the NHL does.
But he does have one concern … about the KHL.
"The only problem I do have is maybe the Russian guys that are back in the KHL, seeing some of the money that those guys can pull in that League, hoping that when this all gets figured out, hoping they come back and play in the NHL," he said.
It probably doesn't help when players like Ilya Bryzgalov are making noise about players staying in the KHL this season. Sounds like someone needs an Inglorious Backes reeducation ...