Updated 8:13 p.m.: After a meeting to clarify portions of the NHL’s most recent collective bargaining proposal Wednesday, NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Donald Fehr told reporters in New York that the union plans to make a counteroffer by the end of the week.
The reported details of the proposal (which you can check out below), according to Fehr, are not completely transparent given that those numbers were calculated in conjunction with changing the definition of hockey-related revenue. Under the current structure, the NHL’s latest offer equates to 46 percent of hockey-related revenue — down from the players’ current 57 percent but an increase from the league’s initial offer of 43 percent. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the 46 percent figure.
The players would like the hockey-related revenue, which their percentage comes from, to remain under its current definition and structure while owners want to reconfigure it. That’s a fundamental difference that will have to be worked out somehow to reach an agreement.
While this proposal doesn’t include a salary rollback per se, the NHLPA said that the increase in player escrow in the first three years of this CBA would effectively serve as one.
“From a player standpoint, you should understand it doesn’t make much difference,” Fehr said. “If a player doesn’t get the dollar value on his contract because there’s a rollback in the contract . . . or whether he doesn’t get an amount because there’s escrow, he still doesn’t get it. It amounts to the same thing.”
Meanwhile, Bettman stressed that the owners’ latest plan offered sizable movement on their part and reiterated that in the NFL and NBA — both of which reached new CBAs in 2011 after lockouts — players took a smaller share of revenue.
“There’s been a lot of rhetoric over 57 percent. Fact of the matter is, there’s no sense 57 percent was baked in perpetuity,” Bettman told reporters in New York. “Looking at at least two other sports, the other two that have cap systems, the players in each of those leagues recognized in this economic environment the appropriateness of reducing their share. Reducing the share isn’t something extraordinary, it has become a matter of fact.”
The two sides also disagree over the sources and uses of revenue-sharing funds as well as other elements like the term of the agreement, player contract constraints and arbitration — to name a few things.
In essence, there still appears to be significant differences between the players and owners. What the NHLPA counters with should show whether there is actual traction in these negotiations.
Original post: If you haven’t already checked out the details of the NHL’s latest proposal that leaked Tuesday night, here’s a roundup of the larger points to help you get caught up. The NHLPA is expected to respond to the proposal in a Wednesday afternoon meeting between the two sides in New York.
According to multiple reports, this proposal is a six-year labor agreement that would reduce the players’ share of revenue gradually from its current 57 percent to 50 percent by the fourth year. The NHL’s initial proposal during these negotiations sought to cut players’ revenue to 43 percent.
This proposal seeks to re-define hockey-related revenue, which has been a sticking point in the negotiations so far, and didn’t address revenue sharing — a major point of emphasis for the NHLPA.
USA Today’s Kevin Allen reported that in 2012-13 the players’ revenue share would be 51.6 percent; in 2013-14 it would be 50.5 percent and in 2014-15 it would sit at 49.6 percent before leveling to 50 percent in the final three years of the agreement.
From USA Today:
According to the NHL’s calculations, under its proposal, players would receive an 11% decrease in the first year, an 8.5% decrease in the second and a 5.5% decrease in the third.
The NHL proposal calls for a fixed salary cap of $58 million next season and then caps of $60 million and $62 million. Under the plan, the league projected a fourth-year salary cap of $64.2 million, a fifth year at $67.6 million and the final season’s cap of $71.1 million.
Last season’s salary cap was $64.3 million and the cap was projected to rise to $70.2 million in 2012-13.
The NHL is not asking for any rollback in current contracts, suggesting that the adjustment could be made through changes in contracting practices, increases in league-wide revenue and contributions to player escrow.
While the lack of a salary rollback eases one concern, where the reductions would come from could easily create others. If it hinges on an increase in player escrow, as TSN and The Fourth Period reported, this proposal may not be viewed by the NHLPA as a step forward in negotiations.
How the NHLPA responds to this latest proposal should give a better picture of whether the two sides have found common ground in the talks or remain far apart on the major economic issues — and how far away the 2012-13 season may be.
The NHL’s current collective bargaining agreement expires at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 15, and the league has said it will lockout players if a new deal is not in place by then.