The issue I have with the PA proposals are two fold.
First, the NHLPA didn't negotiate in good faith by dragging their feet through this entire process. It took them until June to even come to the table, and then 3 weeks after the NHL proposal to actually propose something of their own. So Fehr dragging his feet is the first thing I blame the NHLPA for.
Secondly, the NHLPA and NHL are both being greedy and not willing to compromise anything. In addition, there is no willingness to work together. If you read the deals, there is a deal to be made. Could the NHL be less greedy and not ask for so much? Yes. Could the NHLPA give up a little bit to make a deal happen? Yes. So why aren't either side willing to budge? Even worse, why are both sides just playing the media? The NHL says that they are willing to meet, but that the NHLPA doesn't want to talk their language. The same goes for the NHLPA. Lastly, there are no hard negotiation sessions happening.
So its a little bit of everything. There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides in these negotiations. I believe that both sides should come to the middle a little bit in order to make that happen. I also believe that both sides are in the wrong by involving the media more and getting both sides to the table and negotiating less.
If anything, I am arguing that both leaders should be fired. Both sides have been a miserable failure to their sides and horrible to hockey fans. The respective leadership teams of both sides should also be fired. Its time to get a new group of leaders in these positions that are more willing to work together to achieve a goal.
Finally, I do have an issue with people taking sides on this issue. The NHL and NHLPA have both sinned in these negotiations. To claim that one side is more deserving than the other is a fallacy. Both sides together have failed the sport of hockey and the fans. Bettman is just as at fault for the lockout as Fehr. Its time to kick both these guys in the ass and out of their respective positions.
I was asking specifically about your objections to the players' proposals. I get the other stuff, even though I don't necessarily agree.
Though it's curious that the "dragging their feet" criticism is reserved solely for the PA. The league claims they were ready to start in January, but didn't make any proposals; didn't to anyone's knowledge try to schedule any meetings, or even express any particular concern over the timetable. It took them two weeks from the time of the first meeting to actually make an offer, and another two weeks after that to deliver the full details. It took them two weeks again to make a new proposal after the PA finally made their first. Neither side made a proposal for a month after the start of the lockout. Seems if you want to criticize for this, you'd criticize both sides.
Personally, I don't see the timeline as an issue at all. Nor pandering to the media (I don't really see any of that, to be honest), nor the lack or negotiating sessions. I see the cause-effect relationship the other way I guess. I believe the lack of negotiation is the result of the separation between the proposals, not the other way around. Likewise, I believe the time it has taken thus far is the result of the separation, rather than the continuing separation being due to the lack of time spent. The way I see it even if either side had waited until 11:59PM on 9/15, kicked down the other guy's door, spit in his eye, called his mother a *****, then laid a fair offer on the table...we should be watching hockey right now. I happen to think the PA offers have been fair.
As to the actual proposals, of course the PA could
give up a little more, but should they? They have already made plenty of concessions. Their first offer was a concession. Their second offer went further, and the third set went further still. You can say the same for the owners, but you have to remember that their "compromises" are only relative to the arbitrary figure from their first proposal. Much easier to give up something you never had (and likely never had any expectation to get anywhere close to) than give up something you do. Also, there has been speculation that the 50/50 deal the owners offered was what they wanted all along, and the other offers were just to give the illusion of compromise without really compromising. You could speculate the same regarding the PA, but that seems far less plausible. In all their proposals, the first three years are very similar, with almost all the movement coming in the final two years. You might interpret that as stubbornness, but it seems more likely that they just started off as low as they think should be in those years. One might wonder where the negotiations would be now if the owners hadn't started off with such a hostile first offer.
Furthermore, the owners have yet to actually offer anything to
the players, or even to maintain the status quo on anything. They are taking on every point. The only thing that sort of goes in the players' favor is the 2-year ELC, but that only affects a very small number of players, and has its own drawbacks as well. The players haven't asked to be given anything. They're offering to lower their share, and all they ask in return is to limit how much and what else is taken from them. Again, one might wonder where we'd be if the owners offered something other than imaginary concessions.
As to firing Fehr, I think you're doing him a disservice. When he came in the PA was in disarray. Many players were unhappy with how much the players gave up in 2004-05. They had one director spying on their emails, replaced him with a guy who many felt was too conciliatory toward the league, seemingly more interested in avoiding a work stoppage than acting in the players' best interests. A couple interim directors that no one seemed to have any faith in. No due diligence in auditing league HRR accounting. You may think a weak union or weak leadership is a positive, and maybe it would make a work stoppage less likely, but the players would never be happy with it. It's really best for all sides to have strong leadership on both sides, so long as they are reasonable. Both Fehr and Bettman are strong. How reasonable they are is up for debate. But looking at their records, it's clear that Fehr has the much better resume.
Bettman has now been party to three lockouts in three chances, resulting in two shortened seasons (presuming it's true we can no longer save a full season now) and one completely lost. His big victory last time really solved nothing, and we're locked out again. Fehr was party to a devastating strike, but his big victory in 94-95 helped broker a deal that left both sides healthy and happy enough that it hasn't been changed much in what has now been three straight CBA negotiations without a work stoppage. Baseball has flourished, and owners know they have to be accountable so spending on players is controlled without any need for a cap. Fehr helped accomplish that in an environment that was far more hostile, with a counterpart in Selig who was in part responsible for that hostility (Selig, as an owner, was one of those involved in the late-80's collusion). I think Fehr deserves a chance. Bettman has had his three strikes (or lockouts if you prefer), he should be out.
TL:DR synopsis: I disagree.