The latest breakdown in NHL CBA negotiations has sparked gloomy predictions of another lost season, yet some glimmers of hope for salvaging the season remain.


NHL CBA talks break down again, but a deal may still be possible.

TSN.CA: The NHL yesterday rejected three CBA proposals by the NHLPA in response to the league’s proposal earlier this week, sparking rhetoric from both sides expressing discouragement and disappointment at the other over the inability to reach a deal resulting in an 82-game schedule this season.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: The players biggest sticking point is they want the NHL to honor existing contracts. As for the players’ own 50-50 proposal, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly believes that “is being misrepresented”, claiming the numbers actually amount to “most likely a 56-to 57-percent deal in Year One and never gets to 50 percent during the proposed five-year term of the agreement. The proposal contemplates paying the Players approximately $650 million outside of the Players’ Share. In effect, the Union is proposing to change the accounting rules to be able to say ’50-50,’ when in reality it is not.”

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle breaks down two of the three NHLPA proposals, suggesting the PA’s compromise on a 5o-50 split of revenue might not matter, given the PA’s unwillingness at this time to discuss other issues (“contract term limits, free agency, etc.”).

DETROIT NEWS: The recent failed NHL CBA negotiations brings cancellation of the Winter Classic a step closer.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the recent breakdown in CBA talks might not be as dire as it seems, pointing out the two sides are actually talking about a 50-50 split in revenue, which they hadn’t in previous negotiations prior to this week. The biggest sticking point is reaching agreement on that split without shortchanging the players currently under contract in the early years of a new CBA. “The NHL, a source told, reiterated to the NHLPA in Thursday’s meeting that it is willing to play ball on that concept, that it is willing to be more flexible in trying to find a solution to keep players “whole” on their contracts.”

 CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty suggests the current NHL CBA talks appear to be following the same script as the NBA CBA talks a year ago. If so, there could be a shortened NHL season without jeopardizing big ticket regular season events like the Winter Classic and the All-Star game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, there’s plenty of gloom in the press and the blogosphere over this latest breakdown in talks, but despite the rhetoric from both sides right now, the fact they’re talking a 50-50 split in HRR (the main sticking point in these talks) is a sign of real progress.

Think about it: in July the NHL tabled an insulting offer where the players would get 43 percent of HRR. The players counter-offered with a short term CBA whereby their share of HRR didn’t go below 54% and would “snap back” to 57% if revenues were higher than anticipated, and never really moved much off that in their next proposal. The league offer up 46% several weeks ago, then a 50-50 split this week. The PA, for the first time, is now also proposing a 50-50 split.

They’re technically on the same page now in terms of division of HRR, with the question now being how they reach it to mutual satisfaction, where the players aren’t getting hit too hard by the escrow clawbacks required to lower the revenue share to a 50-50 split.

The other issues Mirtle noted are important, and will have to be seriously negotiated before a deal can be implemented, but the division of HRR is the main issue. Sort that out, and everything else starts to fall into place. Despite all the “sad clown faces” yesterday, the two sides are actually closer now toward an agreement than they’ve ever been in these negotiations. It’s now a matter of how they get there, and how long it takes to do so.