NHL Makes New Offer

The NHL has made some serious buzz today with a new offer to the NHLPA.

After nearly a month of no movement from either side, and after a full month of the players being locked out by ownership, the NHL made a significant offer today.

The offer comes in the wake of a controversy yesterday where the survey of an NHL funded focus group run by the slimy and successful Frank Luntz was leaked to the media.

Details of the offer are still coming out it seems, but the most important economic details have been brought to light:

  • The offer is a 50-50 split of HRR, as opposed to 57-43 in favour of the players in the last CBA.
  • There will be no rollback on current contracts.
  • To arrive at a 50-50 split, the value of salaries that goes over 50% of league revenue would be deterred and paid back over the life of the contract. This guarantees that all current NHL contracts are honoured fully.
  • Unrestricted free agency would begin at 28 years old, or 8 years of NHL service, as opposed to 27 years old and 7 years under the last CBA.
  • Entry level contracts stay the same, locked at 3 years. It was previously reported that they would move to 4 years, but this was incorrect.
  • Salary arbitration remains the same, a significant change from the NHL's first offer, in which they wanted to eliminate it.
  • Future contracts (non-ELC) would be limited to 5 years.
  • One way contracts that are sent to the AHL will now count against the salary cap. This means that the Rangers would have to re-absorb Wade Redden's contract. This cuts down on cap circumvention by wealthy teams, and also gives security to players who sign big deals that they won't be sent to the AHL.
  • The proposed CBA would be at least 6 years.
  • The NHL season would start on November 2nd, and have a condensed schedule that includes all 82 games. The would allow the players to recoup all the salary that has been lost so far due to canceled games.
  • Teams will be able to retain salary on traded players. This is something Brian Burke has been suggesting for years.

Gary Bettman spoke at length about the offer today:

Good afternoon, everyone. Bill Daly and I just spent the last hour with Don and Steve Fehr, and I would like to briefly report to you on what was discussed. As I think all of you know we have been extremely disappointed, and that's an understatement, that we've been unable to get these negotiations on the essential elements moving forward. So, today, we began by discussing with Don and Steve that if we were to drop the puck on November 2nd for the start of the regular season, we could preserve an 82-game schedule for the regular season and play full playoffs as we normally do and be done before the end of June.

We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season, and 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. A lot of you know we don't negotiate publicly, and I'm not going to break that habit because I don't think it's constructive. The fact of the matter is, we offered a 50-50 share of HRR, hockey related revenues, and we believe we addressed the concern that players have about what happens to their salaries as a result in this year of reducing the percentage from 57 to 50 percent.

Beyond that, I don't want to get into the substance other than to say we believe that this was a fair offer for a long-term deal, and it's one that we hope gets a positive reaction so that we can drop the puck on November 2 -- which backing up, entails at least a one-week training camp. So we have about nine or ten days to get this all put to bed, signed, sealed and delivered, in order for this offer to be effective and for us to move forward.

We hope that this effort that we've undertaken today would be successful because we know how difficult this all has been for everybody associated with the game, particularly our fans.

Q: How confident are you that this is going to go forward?

Well, we certainly hope it will. We've given it our best shot.

What was the reaction?

The reaction was that they obviously need to study it, and so we told them that we're available to them. But they're going to need some time to review it, and I respect that portion of the process. Obviously, they've got to understand the offer and get comfortable with it.

Was it just the core economic issues in terms of the offer?

We had a number of significant elements that we believe can and should serve as the basis of a deal to get us playing hockey.

Why do this today?

Because if we want to have an 82-game regular season, if we want to preserve an 82- game regular season and you back up the timetable in terms of the schedule, we needed to do it.

By the way, in terms of the schedule, so everybody understands, the compression that would be involved is one additional game every five weeks. Beyond that, we don't think it would be good for the players or for the game. But if you look at what our ability would be to schedule 82 games and you work back from November 2, if we didn't do it now, if we didn't put an effort on the table that we thought was fair and could get us playing hockey, if we didn't do it now, then it probably wasn't going to happen for a while. Because, again, it's done in the spirit of getting a full season in.

Is it 50-50 across the board?

It's 50-50 across board.

How long of a contract will this be?

I'm not going to get into the specifics. We proposed a long-term contract. We think that's in everybody's interest. We think that's what our fans want.

Can you explain how you address the roll back or the escrow?

There is no roll back, and I'm not going to get into the specifics. It would not be constructive at this point in time. The union has some work to do, and we respect the process. I probably have gone further than I usually have in terms of discussing what we've proposed than at any other time. But I'm not comfortable going any further. I'm more concerned about the process right now and getting us back on the ice.

How worried are you they might say no and more of the season will be lost?

I don't even want to go there.

Is the league amenable to playing an abbreviated schedule?

We're focused on getting the puck dropped on November 2 and playing a full 82-game regular season and full playoffs. That's what this offer is all about.

Have you made plans to meet later in the week?

We're going to be on-call to them. They have some work to do internally. 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.

Don Fehr responded to the offer, but will need time to have a more concrete response:

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