With time running out before the current collective bargaining agreement expires, both the owners and players tabled new proposals on Wednesday. Hope that this signaled progress between the two sides quickly evaporated, though, as each group found the other’s offer to be unacceptable.
Now, I know many of you would rather not focus on the intricate details of labor negotiations – you’re not alone – but for those looking to examine the latest proposals from both sides here are a few stories you should check out.
— James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail has an exceptionally thorough breakdown of the two most recent proposals and where they differ. Be warned, there are a lot of numbers here. But the charts are easy to follow and it gives you a solid look at how far apart the NHL and NHLPA are when it comes to the amount of revenues the players should receive.
— The NHL’s offer Wednesday included one of the items from the players’ checklist: constructing a new collective bargaining agreement under the current definition of hockey-related revenue. (The owners have previously requested to redefine HRR.)
This NHL proposal has the players receive 49 percent of HRR in the first year and then gradually reduce that number to 47 percent over the course of the six-year plan. But it all comes with a catch: this offer expires at 12:59 p.m. Saturday along with the current CBA.
From ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
Bettman warned, though, that the offer would be taken off the table Saturday.
“We made clear ... that this proposal was intended to make a deal before the weekend, before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, and that if in fact a deal was not achievable, what we proposed would be off the table,” Bettman said.
Fehr indicated the league’s latest proposal still required the players to give back too much.
“While it is accurate, in a sense, that the owners’ proposal does not take quite as much money from the players, somebody might say they’ve moved from an extraordinarily large amount to a really very big amount,” he said. “Something like that.”
— Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes that behind all of the percentages there is a philosophical difference between the two sides: one is looking for paycuts, while the other wants raises and the assurance it won’t lose what it has now. From his column, which you can read in full here:
To put it another way, if there is a lockout -- and it seems like there will be one -- it will be because the owners and the players have agreed on one essential issue: Neither wants to leave the money they get out of this deal to chance. Neither wants to assume the risk of not making more money in the years to come.
The owners want their savings on player salaries immediately and they want it guaranteed.
The players want all the money they’re making now as well as raises of two, four and six per cent, compounded, over the next three years.
A deal could be done if the owners softened their stance on the first year or two of the agreement and allowed the growth in league revenues to take the players’ share down gradually and painlessly. And the players could do their part by accepting the likelihood that their path to future wealth lies in taking less -- even less than they would like -- of a growing business.
But no one wants to take any risk. Each side wants their cake and they want to eat it from a silver tray in a room with a five-star view. It’s a philosophical divide disguised as a math problem and Wednesday did nothing to solve it.
So what’s next? The NHLPA is holding another round of meetings with players this morning in New York, and the NHL’s Board of Governors will meet in the afternoon. It’s tough to gauge if there will be any significant news at this point, or if there’s real chance to prevent the third NHL lockout in the past 18 years.