Tuesday, October 16, 2012
We may finally have gotten the breakthrough in negotiations between the NHL owners and players that we've seemingly been waiting forever for. The NHL delivered a proposal to the players today - the first proposal offered between either side within the last 34 days - that calls for a 50-50 split in total revenue between owners and players. The NHL's original proposal made in September had them asking for a 53-47 split in revenue with the owners getting the 53-percent cut of revenue.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that both sides have approximately nine to 10 days to hammer out a new deal so that a full 82-game season could begin on Nov. 2. The specifics on how scheduling and all that would work has not yet been revealed
NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr called the NHL's latest proposal "an excellent starting point" for negotiations to move forward, but declined to comment any further beyond that. The NHLPA reportedly scheduled a conference call for later today to go over the new proposal, so it's possible we'll hear more tonight or tomorrow about whether or not they will approve this deal.
It's worth noting, however, that even though the owners have lowered their demands to getting 50-percent of the revenue, the players would still be taking a pay cut from the 57-percent of revenue they were receiving in the last CBA.
In the NHL's latest proposal, they reportedly went back to wanting three-year Entry Level contracts as opposed to five-year deals that they asked for in their first proposal. The owners also were asking for players to be in the league for 10 years before becoming unrestricted free agents in their first proposal and lowered it to eight years in this proposal (one year more than the previous CBA allowed players to become UFAs). The only one rule that remained unchanged in the NHL's latest proposal is that the maximum length of future contracts would be five years.
I've been firmly in the NHLPA's corner throughout this process after learning how absurd the owners' original proposal was, but I must say this is a gigantic step forward. Gary Bettman and the owners' original stance seemed obnoxious and unwilling to move off any of their demands after they made their first proposal, so kudos to them for being more realistic with what they're asking for in this latest offer. Dare I say it actually seems like Bettman is actually doing something to help get hockey back? It sure seems like it. I'm not going to completely applaud the owners and Bettman for softening their stance, but this is absolutely a good sign that the owners seem willing to bend on what they originally were asking for.
So now the ball (or puck) is in the players' court (or ice). Don Fehr is on record saying that the players had no problem continuing to play under terms of the previous CBA, and the NHL's latest proposal is certainly a lot closer to that than their first. One thing people have repeatedly said is that with Don Fehr involved these negotiations never go smoothly. I'm too young to remember his role in the strike when he was head of the MLBPA; I just know that these things are never officially resolved until both sides sign on the dotted lines. All I know is there finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.