It’s been about a month since the NHL owners and Commissioner Gary Bettman made their proposal to the NHLPA (if it seems ridiculous that’s because it is ridiculous) concerning their vision for the future of the NHL; with player’s hockey related revenues (i.e. percentage of ticket sales, merchandise sales, etc.) dropping from 57% to 46%, players with less than 10 years of NHL experience will be restricted free agents when their contracts expire and, oh yeah, player contracts can’t exceed a length of 5 years.
Today is the day the NHLPA finally comes back with its “counterproposal”. Notice the quotations because NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said Monday the Union’s proposal will offer a “different kind of approach” then the current CBA shows as well as the recent proposal by the NHL and Bettman.
Shortly after Fehr spoke and vaguely answered some questions, Bettman, who was in attendance was asked if he had any idea or guesses on what the NHLPA’s proposal will look like: “We will have to wait and see,” he said. “I’m not going to try to speculate as to what they are going to present. I have no idea.”
Like the Commissioner, I myself don’t have any idea either and the only thing I can really tell you with any certainty is that the NHLPA’s proposal will look nothing like the NHL’s offer. I hear rumors of the players possibly demanding a luxury tax instead of a hard cap like the system currently installed in the NBA, but for now that’s just speculation.
September 15th is fast approaching and what makes September 15th so important? It’s the deadline for both sides to come to a mutual agreement before the current CBA expires and followed by the players being “locked-out” and then you have your work stoppage, which means no hockey for anyone. The NHL owners and Bettman have already said that’s the route they will take if a current CBA isn’t in place by then.
This whole CBA battle and the money fueled ego contest that it is, serves as a harsh reminder for us fans that the NHL is still a business and not just a game. I say it is time for both sides to have more than two to four meetings a month and get a deal done to avoid a work stoppage like the ones in 1994-95 and 2003-04. In my opinion neither side should want or aim for a work stoppage (which I don’t think either side really wants) but it appears as though both sides are willing to do what it takes to get what they want, which may not be a very good thing for the fans.
Follow Billy Bryson on Twitter @BillyBrysonNHL