Here’s Chocolate Iced, with an update on the bane of our existence, the NHL Lockout.
The NHL has made a new offer to the NHLPA in an attempt to re-start negotiations and put an end to a lockout that threatens the entire 2012-2013. With many NHL players already active in other professional leagues around the world, NHL fans are looking for anything that might signal a return to NHL hockey. Before we start popping the champagne, let’s take a look at the owners’ latest offer.
First, there were not many details released about the new offer. What we know is that the offer would govern at least the next six years, and proposes a 50-50 split of HRR or Hockey Related Revenue.
You’ll recall that part of the reason for the lockout is that players were taking in approximately 57% of HRR as the last collective bargaining agreement expired. The new offer also removes the league’s demand that salaries be “rolled back” on current player contracts (those at the 57% HRR levels).
In other words, the owners are willing to honor the existing salary contracts they signed with the players. Imagine that!
There are also indications that the league is still pushing for a maximum contract length of five years. The offer would also allow players to achieve unrestricted free agency at age 28 or after eight years of service–one additional year compared to the last collective bargaining agreement.
The league is trying to save a full 82 game season, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman saying of the offer, “It is our best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and [Stanley Cup] Playoffs.” The head of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, also had very brief comments about the offer:
“We, of course, share that view and would like to get a full 82-game season in. And, so, what our hope is that after we review this that there will be a feeling on the players’ side that this is a proposal from which we can negotiate and try to reach a conclusion. But, we are not in a position to make any comments about it beyond that at this point.”
The NHLPA’s executive committee, consisting of the bargaining committee and player representatives from all 30 teams had a conference call scheduled for 5pm Eastern today to discuss the new offer.
While this latest move by the NHL is cause for cautious optimism in my opinion, several potential stumbling blocks remain.
The largest one that I see is the very definition of HRR. The owners presumably still want to change the definition of HRR to include less items, thus lowering the amount of HRR, which in turn lowers the amount of cash they are required to split with the players. How does the new offer deal with this issue?
One other potential problem is revenue sharing. This was a big one for the players in the last round of negotiations and chances are that they still want to see a significant increase in the percentage of revenues shared to help struggling teams.
The devil will definitely be in the details on this one. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all unfolds.
I, for one hope, that both sides will recognize the damage they are doing to their product and fan base and get a deal done.