NHL owners and players will meet for a third day of CBA negotiations in New York City today, which could be crucial if the current lockout is to end.
TSN.CA: NHL players and owners meeting ended around 1 pm ET this morning with the two sides having exchanged proposals and intending to continue their negotiations later today. It’s believed the PA wishes to stage a conference call this morning with those members not in attendance before meeting with the owners around noon ET today. Details of the proposals are sketchy, but the league is believed to have offered a ten-year CBA (with an “opt-out clause” by year eight), have increased their “make whole” dollars from $211 million to $300 million ($250 million to players, $50 million to pension fund). The owners have agreed to maintain existing rules for unrestricted free agency and arbitration, but still wants a five year term limit on player contracts (though teams can re-sign their free agents to up to seven years) plus the five percent annual variance on salaries. It’s believed talks nearly broke down twice yesterday but cooler head prevailed.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun believes the contract term limit remains a tough pill to swallow for the players, who may have hoped the owners would pull that at the 11th hour, but haven’t done so…yet. He also believes a significant divide over the term of the CBA still exists (players wanted a shorter deal). LeBrun suggests the fact this didn’t blow apart last night supports the belief both sides don’t want to leave New York without a deal. Scott Burnside, meanwhile, praises NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and (to a lesser degree) NHLPA director Donald Fehr for removing themselves from the negotiations (though they remain in contact with their respective sides) thus creating an environment for progress by moderates, as both men were lightning rods for criticism from each side.
SPORTSNET.CA: Michael Grange considers the recent negotiations to be progress at last. He also cited sources claiming Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller briefly lost his temper yesterday during negotiations, which seemed to encourage more dialogue, though at one point Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs threatened to leave, until moderate owners like Ron Burkle of the Penguins and Jeff Vinik of the Lightning interceded and agreed to keep talks going.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Today, in my opinion, will be the crucial day in this week’s negotiations in determining if we see a deal soon or negotiations break down. The puck is in the players’ end right now, and they’re still not pleased about term limits and the league’s unwillingness to honor existing contracts. Still, they’ve managed to get the league to significantly increase the “make whole” dollars, and to leave unrestricted free agency and arbitration alone, plus allow for a longer term for re-signing free agents.
I understand why the players don’t want term limits on contracts, but as I’ve frequently pointed out, term limits only became an issue in the last CBA because teams were using them to legally circumvent the salary cap, and they benefit less than 10 percent of the NHLPA membership. The rank and file never see contracts longer than three years in length, and never will. It simply wouldn’t make sense for the players to risk derailing negotiations and jeopardize the season merely to gain a provision which only benefits the star players. The key point which troubles me, however, is lack of news on revenue sharing, which I believe could be the key issue down the road.
Hopefully, commons sense and cooler heads on both sides will continue to prevail.
THE SPORTING NEWS: Jesse Spector on how tension and boredom among those covering the NHL and following it on Twitter gave rise to a new Twitter parody account: @NHLPodium.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As of this morning, @NHLPodium has over 11, 600 followers.
VANCOUVER SUN: Cam Cole wonders if the liver-spotted hand of Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs was behind Monday’s report by WBZ-TV reporter Steve Burton’s claim a new NHL CBA could be in place this week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If a new CBA is hammered out this week, those who initially scoffed at Burton will owe him an apology.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited a report by Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claiming Bettman wants a new CBA in place by Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: True or not, it’s a real possibility at this point, though it now depends on how talks unfold later today. Cross your fingers, NHL fans!
TORONTO STAR: Damiex Cox reports the NHL and NHLPA have finally agreed on one key issue: funding the NHL’s Senior Player Benefit through 2013.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They should’ve agreed to this months ago. Better late than never, I guess.
BLOOMBERG.COM: A group of sports fans can now go forward with claims the NHL and MLB violated anti-trust laws in their control over TV and internet broadcast rights.
CANADA NEWSWIRE: One of the “Green Men” has written a book. No, the title isn’t “It’s not easy being green”.