Gary Bettman addressed the media that had gathered outside the meetings where the NHL made a new offer to the players association. Little detail has been released about what was actually offered by the NHL to the NHLPA. The NHL throughout this lockout has not used the media as a negotiating tool, but this move was the first time in the process they teased the media with their offer.
The biggest detail coming from the offer is there would be a 50/50 split of hockey related revenue across the board contingent on an 82 game regular season. Bettman would not go into detail about how escrow would work because it would be unfair to the players’ association and the negotiating progress.
“We hope we’ve given our best shot,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season, and in that light, we made a proposal, an offer, really that is out best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and playoffs.”
“Obviously, we didn’t put this proposal, this offer, together overnight, and the NHLPA is going to need a little time to review it. I’m hoping that review will get us to a positive and constructive place.”
Bettman added he believed that the league’s new offer addressed the concerns the players had about their salaries. The NHL backed down from their demand for a rollback on current player contracts which were signed under the previous agreement which saw the players get 57 percent of the hockey related revenue.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr addressed the media after the commissioner and said, “The offer is at least six years long and is an excellent start in hopes the season can be saved.” He would not go into further detail about the proposal until the players had a chance to study the proposal. There is a conference call scheduled for later in the day with the union executive committee.
John Shannon of Sportsnet reported that some of the more controversial demands from the last offer were dropped or scaled back:
“The league kept its demand to limit all player contracts to five years, but is willing to keep entry-level contracts at three years in length. Arbitration rights would also remain in place, although it is not known if the owners want to restrict them. Players can become free agents after eight years of service or at 28 years of age, which is an increase of one year in both categories from the previous agreement.”
There is one important detail from the NHL the players are concerned with and that is escrow. As CBC’s Elliotte Friedman pointed out, “Bettman will not go into how escrow would work,” this could be the reason why there were no rollbacks in this latest offer. Dropping from 57 percent to 50 percent hurts the players; many people figured that was number for HRR that would get a deal done.
Negotiations resumed today in the NHL’s labor dispute with the NHL Players Association. It was the first time in five days following two days of meeting in New York last week. The Big Four (Bettman, Daly, and the Fehr brothers), were in attendance as both sides looked to bridge the gap on the core economic issues.
Both sides were in communication on a regular basis since the lockout began on September 15th; however, most of the issues that were discussed had been on non-core economics issues. The proposal by the NHL ended the game of chicken being played by both parties about who was going to bring a proposal to the table first.
Prior to today, the last time either side brought an offer to the table was September 12th. Many insiders did not see this proposal coming from the NHL owners because the owners made it clear that the next offer should be coming from the NHLPA.
There is still a lot of work to get done before November 2nd, but this offer is a step in the right direction for hockey to get played this season. One thing is for sure both parties want to play hockey.