September 12th, 2012. Just another day in paradise right? Actually that was the last time prior to today that an actual honest to goodness collective bargaining agreement proposal was on the table. Shortly after that proposal the NHL made no bones about the fact that they would lock the players out – unable to continue under the current conditions outlined by the existing CBA.
Just 31 days into Lockout 2012 – it seems as if the NHL and NHLPA are willing to get out of the trenches and into the negotiating ring. Why has it taken so long? Neither side thought it was going to take this long – and we are finally starting to get into the point where both players and owners should be seeing “hockey related revenue” and game checks since the “start of the season”.
Talks started brewing last week regarding a possible return to serious talks – after what seemed like another lost year and an impending negotiating impasse. The NHL today made a move and offered a proposal that would ensure the start of an NHL regular season by November 2nd – and ensure teams that they would still get to play 41 home games allowing for a full season of revenue intake.
Some key points of the proposal today:
- Hockey related revenue will be split 50/50 between the players association and the owners. This is what the league has been pushing for in the first place.
- Rookie contracts are now 4 years instead of three, contracts will be capped at five years for all other deals.
- Players will have to wait one more season to become an unrestricted free agent.
The league brings this proposal with a sense of urgency – so it is almost like they are willing to cede to the players whatever it takes to not lose the regular season. What is interesting, is given the length of time it has taken the NHLPA to counter propose in the past, the league is giving them just a little over a week to ensure a complete 82 game schedule.
Is the NHL willing to budge off this deal? Players will be taking not as large of a cut as in previous NHL proposals, but are still looking at a seven percent cut in their share of HHR – which could amount to about 230 million dollars based on last years figure of 3.3 billion dollars in revenue.
What could be the breaking point of the NHLPA is the number of guys surviving in the league playing for near league minimum on their contracts. With a short shelf life to those players – they could push the rest of the association into accepting a deal that takes a cut – but at least puts a check in the bank account each week. Many of the “fringe” players this lockout hurts don’t get offers from teams overseas with the ability to pay mercenaries from the best hockey league in the world.
Are the players stuck here? The NHL responded with a proposal that has the hockey world turned on end, fans around North America are lured to their favorite sites looking for any shred of information that might show them hope that a hockey season is salvageable. Donald Fehr won’t comment on the proposal in whole, only saying parts are respectable.
Even if a deal cannot be done to save a full season – we could probably be closer to the start of a limited season – and if the season is lost, the NHL can always say they made a great attempt at saving the season.
Hockey fans around the globe wait in hushed anticipation, not exactly holding their breath – but hanging on with limited hope, that the NHLPA agrees with little argument, and that the National Hockey League opens its arms to its fans on November 2, 2012.