Reaction to the NHLPA’s latest CBA proposal and the NHL’s reaction.


League rejects PA’s latest proposal, but two sides may be closer to a deal.

TSN.CA/CANADIAN PRESS: The NHL and NHLPA failed to gain traction on the PA’s latest CBA proposal. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman maintained the two sides were still far apart, but called the proposal a step in the right direction and hoped it would put negotiations on the path toward resolution. NHLPA director Donald Fehr, however, didn’t believe any progress was being made, and acknowledged his constituents were anxious to end the lockout, but called their proposal “about as good” as the players were willing to make.

Veteran NHL defenseman Roman Hamrlik, meanwhile, expressed his disgust with Fehr to a Czech newspaper, bemoaning the money the players had already lost and wouldn’t get back. That drew a swift rebuke from Montreal Canadiens winger Erik Cole, calling Hamrlik’s comments “disappointing” and “selfish”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve broken down the main points in the NHLPA’s proposa which I believe the league didn’t like, and those they could accept, in my latest Soapbox update. The biggest stumbling block was the PA’s insistence the players lose no money as a result of potential losses post-lockout. That being said, I  believe there’s some notable points which the league will accept. As for Hamrlik’s comments, while I don’t doubt they’re shared by other NHL players, I don’t believe they reflect those of the majority…yet. That could change, however, if this lockout stretches into the New Year with no resolution in sight.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: A disgruntled NHL fan named Jaymes Hall confronted Bettman during his press conference yesterday. When Bettman finished speaking with the media, he then took a few moments to speak directly with Hall, who apologized for his interruption once their conversation was over.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give Bettman credit, he could’ve just blown off Hall or had security hustle him away. Instead, he took the time to speak with Hall, whose interruption provided one of the few genuine moments of this lockout. That being said, I’d advise against other disgruntled NHL fans emulating Hall, as I doubt you’ll get within 100 feet of the Commissioner after this.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun also broke down the main points of the NHLPA’s proposal which he feels weren’t acceptable for the league, and those which the league may have to be flexible on. LeBrun subsequently provided a list from a source of the league’s intentions regarding player contracts. The most notable include: maintaining entry level contracts at 3 years, willingness to be flexible on 5 percent salary variance, acceptance of PA’s suggestion of payroll range determined as a percentage of mid-point rather than $16 million, elimination of re-entry waivers. LeBrun also published a letter sent by the NHLPA in response to a Canadian Member of Parliament explaining the players’ stance during this lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun was among a handful of pundits who eschewed the “gloom and doom” narrative emerging from yesterday’s meeting to suggest genuine progress was made between the two sides. It’s an opinion I share in my Soapbox analysis of the PA proposal. Yes, the two sides face more negotiation, but slowly, painfully, they’re getting closer to a deal.

NEW YORK POST: Mark Everson also believes the two sides are drawing closer to a deal, pointing out the league’s October of a 50-50 revenue split remains alive.

” By accepting the owners’ demand of percentage share rather than specified amounts, the players moved to the place where only numbers are an issue, the place where a deal can be made. Despite the union’s anger, there is now hope for Christmas hockey. But it didn’t feel that way to the union.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. The players might not be happy, but they are moving closer to a deal. Yes, they’re the ones making most of the concessions, and I certainly understand their frustration, but if they want a deal to get back on the ice, they have to accept that 50-50 split. It was inevitable.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle breaks down the NHLPA’s proposal by the numbers, noting it  would provide the players 52 percent of revenue over the life of the proposal, probably still a little too much for the league’s liking. Mirtle also reports some NHLPA hardliners are hinting at decertification of the union, noting it was what the NFL players union did during its labor dispute with the NFL last year, while the NBA reached an agreement soon after the NBA players voted for decertification.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Decertification is an option, but I don’t believe the players are reaching that point yet, though that could change in the coming weeks if there’s no progress in negotiations. If they’re going to seriously pursue that option, they must move quickly if they hope to use it to get a new CBA in place to salvage what’s left of this season. 

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman provided clarification on the NHLPA’s proposed remedy to address back-loaded contracts, while Jordan Shifman published a collection of unhappy tweets from NHL players voicing their frustration and disappointment over the league’s rejection of their latest proposal.

SPORTSNET.CA: Mark Spector believes the players are finally realizing they’re not going to “win” in these CBA talks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once the PA agreed to negotiate toward a 50-50 revenue split, which is what the league wanted all along, the players were going to be the “losers”, since they’re giving up a significant portion of their share of hockey-related revenue. That being said, we’ll have to wait and see what is ultimately contained in the new agreement before determining how it will shake out for both sides. Remember, the last CBA was a supposed “slam dunk” victory for the NHL owners, but despite their triple-tier cap system (the most restrictive in North American pro sports), that CBA worked out far better for the players. In fact, it worked out so well, it resulted in another lockout by the owners! I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next CBA work out in the players favor in the long run.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox reports elderly NHL veterans are caught in the crossfire of the current NHL lockout, as the Senior Benefit Plan for retired NHLer 65 and older expired along with the previous CBA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s outrageous how the NHL continually fails its retired players, especially the injured and elderly. Even the NHLPA leadership deserves  blame, as it should have been more proactive prior to the expiration of the last CBA to work with the league to ensure that Seniors Benefit was either made permanent, or maintained during the course of the lockout.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The 2013 NHL All-Star Game could be axed on Friday, along with the opening two weeks of the NHL’s December schedule.