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Owners Submit New Deal to the NHLPA
The NHL might have kicked negotiations into hyper drive with today's proposal to the NHLPA. Bettman and the owners hit on key issues that have held back negotiations in the eye of the players association. If accepted, the NHL will start the season on November 2nd, with all 82 games on the schedule.
"We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season," Bettman told reporters in Toronto after Tuesday's NHL CBA negotiations. "In that light, we made a proposal, an offer, really that is our best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and playoffs, and this offer that we made obviously was contingent upon having an 82-game regular season."
As positive as this seems from the outside, even with all the candy and lollipops the NHL has handed out today, this thing is hardly over.
The players are all but convinced that this deal is right for them and seem very cautious moving forward. Unfortunately for them, Bettman finally did the right thing and placed a 10-day window on this proposal after the NHLPA frustrated them with their slow negotiation process all summer through fall. As promising as this seems, we are familiar with this situation. In 2004, the NHLPA offered a 24% rollback in December and they had confidence that it would be enough to get a deal done. Instead, they continued "negotiating" for months and ended up cancelling the entire season. The NHL has also been known to place promising deals on the table in the past and pulling them if the timetable expires.
That said, NHL's proposal is very good and certainly a step in the right direction. Here are some quick details:
- Built on current HRR definitions, which was very important for the NHLPA.
- Improved their initial offer to 50% of HRR, splitting it down the middle. It would begin after this season and they would not need to phase it in. This season, teams would be allowed to exceed the salary cap.
- Designed and built without a rollback, but to protect and honor current contracts in place by paying them back over the duration of their contracts.
- Entry-level contracts would be reduced to two years, some said three, others four but most reputable source says two. [LeBrun]
- New contract lengths would be limited to five years.
- NHL contracts assigned to the AHL would be included in the salary cap.
- NHL players would be elligible for unrestricted free agency after 8 years under contract, or age 28.
- Potential to retain salary in trades, presenting opportunities for the trade deadline to see a lot of activity again.
As far as addressing the rollback, Darren Dreger reported that the money would be placed on the shelf and paid back over time. I would assume that would not include any accumulated interest. As far as I can tell, this addresses a key issue that the NHLPA has had throughout the entire negotiation process and hopefully this will give them comfort knowing that their current contracts will be honored.
Fehr did not seem overly eager to accept or reject the deal and will take a few days to review it. As always, the NHL stated that they would stand-by and be willing to get back into the war room as soon as they come to a decision.
"We're going to be on-call to them. They have some work to do internally," Bettman stated. "Obviously, we didn't put this proposal, this offer, together overnight, and they're going to need a little time to review it. I'm hoping that review will get us to a positive and constructive place."
The NHL has opened their hand and offered to compromise here. The ball is in Fehr's court now, and while the proposal offered by the NHL isn't exactly perfect for either side, it definitely has a lot of good qualities that should be enough to keep both sides happy. Lets hope he takes it for the sake of our beloved season. We all know what will happen if Fehr decides to be greedy at this point in negotiations.
UPDATE: Details of the proposal are still being released, this article will be edited for accuracy. It has been said that the NHLPA is preparing a counter-offer within the next 24-48 hours. I would assume this means they do not accept the deal as it currently stands.
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