A day which began with cautious optimism has ended once again in disappointment, as the NHL rejected the NHLPA’s latest offers, stoking fears of another lost season.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman emerged from today’s meeting with the NHLPA (which barely lasted an hour) to express disappointment in the players’ offers, claiming the two sides weren’t speaking the same language,calling the PA’s offers a step backward in the process.
Bettman claimed the PA’s proposals were merely variations of their initial one this summer regarding the players share of revenue.
Fehr subsequently spoke to the media, where he gave brief descriptions of the PA’s three offers. As per Tweets from James Mirtle:
No. 1: Would have fixed share in first three years. Share then frozen until hits 50% (Year 3 to 5).
No. 2: Players will get 25% of any growth. Their share would hit 51% by Year 4 and 50% by Year 5 with 5% growth.
No. 3: “We’ll move to 50-50 as long as you honour contracts.” Players get 13% up front to cover those contracts.
The NHLPA isn’t expected to make copies of their proposals available for public scrutiny as the NHL did with their latest proposal earlier this week.
Fehr also said the proposals dealt solely with hockey-related revenue (HRR) and core economics. There was no discussion on other issues (revenue sharing, contract term, arbitration, entry-level contracts, eligibility for UFA status, etc).
He did, however, say the players had concerns over the secondary issues, claiming the things the players got from the last round of concessions, the owners now wanted to take away. He didn’t specify what those concessions were.
It’s easy to see what led to the breakdown in talks today. The NHL wants a 50-50 split immediately. The PA, on the other hand, would prefer either a gradual reduction to minimize the escrow hit for the players, or an immediate 50-50 split if the league honors all existing contracts.
Hopefully, there will be more details upon what the players were offering. I’ll add them to this post if they are made public.
So, where do they go from here?
Well, it’s obvious there won’t be any further negotiations between the two sides this week. Bettman and company flew back to New York in an apparent huff, leaving the PA to stew in their Toronto headquarters.
It’s possible the reactions today are merely public posturing, with “off-line” discussions among the lieutenants from both sides over the weekend.
Then again, the frustration from both sides could be very real, in which case, things could be getting worse instead of better.
The NHL could send a clear signal as to its intentions if it announces cancellation of the next block of games (possibly a month’s worth) between October 19 and 24. Bettman has already made a subtle hint cancellation of future league events, including the Winter Classic, becomes a real possibility in the near future.
Don’t expect another proposal from the league. Bettman and company will now hope the threat of cancellation of more games and potential loss of the Winter Classic could put more pressure upon the PA to offer a more suitable proposal.
The important, positive note to take away from all this is the NHLPA and NHL, despite their rhetoric today, are on the same page regarding division of HRR. Both have agreed to 50-50 split. The question now is how they get there.
The next few days could tell the tale.