The US Presidential election takes place today, but all eyes in the NHL world are focused upon New York City and the latest round of NHL CBA negotiations. Read on for the latest.
CSNPHILLY.COM: Tim Panaccio reports an NHL spokesman said not to expect a formal news conference after today’s negotiating session between the league and NHLPA, hoping silence will help the talks gain traction. Panaccio cites the PA’s desire the league guarantee all existing contracts (“the owners would make up any differences between revenue and salaries by providing escrow themselves – and not the players.”), while the league wants the players to accept a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenues.
CBC.CA/USA TODAY: Dan Oldfield and Kevin Allen give reasons why a new CBA could be near which would see the league begin in early-December, citing (among them) an urgency on both sides toward getting a deal done, plus there’s still time to stage a meaningful season.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott reports sources claiming players and some influential owners are putting pressure upon their respective negotiators to get a deal done
TORONTO SUN: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports sources say league commissioner Gary Bettman and league officials were spurred into renewing talks with the PA due to public backlash from the league’s decision to cancel the Winter Classic.
CSNNE.COM; Joe Haggerty reports of “wild whispers” in the hockey world of the league staging a scaled down version of the Winter Classic (though not involving Toronto and Detroit) if a season-saving CBA can be reached.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun believes there’s still reason to be cautious as talks resume, suggesting negotiations remain in a delicate state, and the players still wish to know more about the league’s proposal regarding its “make whole” provision on contracts.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes if the league enters talks considering its “make whole” provision a concession rather than a obligation, the talks (and likely the season) is doomed. He reports “several individuals” claim the league “will be willing to negotiate off its proposed five-year contract term limit and 5-percent variance on annual salary”, though it remains committed to increasing the eligibility age/experience for UFA status to 28/eight years, and lowering entry-level contracts to two years. The AHL provision and retroactive punishment regarding front-loaded contracts “are as much teams issues as NHLPA issues”.
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGann cites a player on the NHLPA bargaining committee claiming the two sides still remain far apart, noting the league has yet to make a formal proposal regarding the “make whole” provision on players contracts.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: David Shoalts cited an NHL governor (who spoke on condition of anonymity) suggesting if the two sides can reach agreement soon on the major issues (like the division of HRR), the rest can be worked out later.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo recently reported on what both sides could get from a new CBA.
SPORTSNET.CA: Mark Spector with a list of “hawkish” and “dovish” NHL owners.
ADVERTISING AGE: A look at how Bauer Hockey is coping with the NHL lockout.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres winger Thomas Vanek has returned to Buffalo after playing in Austria for the past month.
NEW YORK POST: NY Islanders oft-injured goalie Rick DiPietro denied a recent report claiming he’d suffered a groin injury playing in Germany.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Safe to say the NHL CBA talks are reaching a critical juncture if there’s to be a 60-game season beginning in December. The key factor remains the “make whole” provision. The players want the owners to honor existing contracts, while the league hopes to convince the players to accept their provision (especially if the owners agree to pick up part of the cost of future losses to players contracts) to facilitate an 50-50 split in revenue.
I don’t doubt the negotiators on both sides are feeling pressure from within to reach an agreement, but it remains to be seen if that plays any part in this round of talks. Forget about a scaled down Winter Classic if this season is saved. That won’t happen. As I noted yesterday, the division of hockey related revenue is the biggest issue, but it’s not the only one, and there are other notable ones to be hammered out before a deal can be reached. All we can do now is hope the two sides make progress this week toward a resolution.