The NHLPA seemed to catch NHL owners and Commissioner Gary Bettman off guard with their latest CBA proposal that showed the NHLPA as a business partner willing to do what it takes to help the league grow but not entirely willing to take on the whole burden itself.
The players response on Tuesday seems to be thoughtful and intriguing unlike the eyebrow raising proposal the NHL owners and Bettman sent the NHLPA a little over a month ago. You know, the one where players were asked to remain restricted free agents for 10 years yet couldn’t sign contracts longer then 5 years and players would also be reducing their revenue share from 57% to 46%? Unlike the NHL, the NHLPA came off as peacekeepers willing to bend for a bit to help the league and revenue struggling teams succeed.
The NHLPA showed up on Tuesday with some mighty star power flanking NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr, with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos in attendance for the proposal. It was a show of unity and strength not seen during the last CBA negotiations in 2003-04. It also meant most if not all players were behind the proposal. NHL star Sidney Crosby most definitely is,
“I like it a lot. I think, as Don said, it’s addressing the issues that the league has. [We're] making sure as players that we do our part to help those [struggling] teams out, but also holding the teams accountable.”
Fehr spoke after the proposal was made on Tuesday and while he didn’t go into detail about the the entire proposal, he outlined a handful of major points. Players would be surrendering up to $465 million in revenue with the new proposal if the NHL continues to grow at its average rate. Fehr went on to say that money could explode up to $800 million if the league grows at the rate it has for the past two years. They’re basically giving up hockey related revenue in exchange for more aggressive and targeted revenue sharing among NHL clubs in attempt to help out struggling teams according to Fehr. Now that’s a big chunk of change the players are willing to give up, however the players only agreed to do it for three years and then the CBA would have a 4th year option to revert back to it’s current state where players collect more than half of hockey related revenue. Fehr thinks its good for all involved,
‘‘We do believe that the proposal the players made today, once implemented, can produce a stable industry… that can give us a chance to move beyond the recurring labor strife that has plagued the NHL the last two decades.’’
Also outlined by Fehr was that the proposal does not include an elimination of the salary cap and it made no changes to player contracts. Many had speculated the NHLPA would request a luxury tax which it apparently did not.
NHL owners and Commissioner Bettman exited the NHLPA offices in Toronto quickly after the two hour meeting but not before Gary Bettman made a brief but concise statement,
“It’s clear to me that they didn’t put it together in an hour or two, and as a result we’re going to need to take a little bit of time to evaluate it, understand it. If we’re going to respond, we want to respond appropriately.”
The NHL owners, Commissioner Bettman and the NHLPA are expected to meet again today and hopefully the NHL will have a response to the NHLPA’s proposal and things can get rolling a little faster. So while there is hope that a lockout can be avoided and a new CBA agreed upon, a potential lockout still looms large over everyone involved with the current CBA expiring on September 15th of this year. The players have showed they are more than willing to bend a bit to get a deal done, your move NHL.
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