Positive signs stem from NHLPA's
The NHL Players' Association presented the NHL with their proposal this
morning, an economic view of how they "see the world."
TORONTO, ON -- The NHLPA pitched its proposal to the NHL today, as
negotiations towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the
two sides remain ongoing.
Everyone was eager to see what would come from today's discussion and
presentation, and surprisingly, the atmosphere following the session
was fairly positive... from both sides.
"Today, the players made a proposal on the core economic issues, which
we believe will lead to a new CBA," said NHLPA head Don Fehr. "The
players did not believe that the owners' initial proposal (made on
July 13) was likely to do that.
"We do believe that the proposal the players made today, once
implemented, can produce a stable industry, one that, going forward,
can give us a chance to move beyond the recurring labor strife that
has plagued the NHL for the last two decades.
"Players want a new CBA, and they want it soon. But, obviously, it has
to be one which is fair and equitable for the players, as well as to
With 23 players huddled around the executive members of the NHLPA as
they made their pitch to NHL staff members like Commissioner
Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, four team owners and
two team general managers.
While there wasn't much discussed between the two sides -- it was more
of a gathering of information on the NHL's part -- a meeting is
tentatively scheduled for tomorrow morning after the League has gone
over all the material.
"It's clear to me that they didn't put it together in an hour or two,"
Bettman said. "As a result, we're going to need a little bit of time
to evaluate it, understand it, and we told them we would go back to
our offices and do that, and that we would be prepared to meet again
As illustrated in their offer, the NHLPA is proposing a new three-year
CBA, with a Players' option for a fourth. The salary cap would remain,
but the Players would take a significant cut in hockey-related revenue
(HRR) within those three years, which, according to Fehr, could
generate about $465 million for the NHL and its clubs -- that money
would then be split among the 30 teams to help stabilize the economy.
However, based on how well the League and its revenues have progressed
in the last two seasons, the HRR "could reach about $800 million,"
according to Fehr.
"Under our alternative proposal, essentially the players have
indicated that they will take a reduced share of HRR, going forward,
for the next three seasons," Fehr said. "That would be based on a
reduction from what would be produced otherwise under the current
formula with the league growing at traditional rates that it has for
the last seven years.
"We also propose significantly expanded, more aggressive, and more
targeted revenue sharing. The purpose of this is to help clubs and
ownerships groups which may need it. Under our proposal,
revenue-sharing could reach, and probably would reach, more than $250
million, per year.
"In essence, when you boil it all down, what we're suggesting is that
the players partner with the financially stronger owners to help
stabilize the industry and assist the less financially-strong
In a nutshell, with all the money the players are reallocating to
their owners, the NHL should become a tremendously economically-sound
environment within three years. If that occurs, the fourth-year option
would, if exercised, "would snap back to the current agreement" where
the players receive a much higher HRR.
Salaries wouldn't increase that much over the next three seasons,
either. A slow progression in player salaries would be implemented
based on generated league-wide revenues, to ensure that the teams in
need are getting the appropriate assistance.
"Obviously, we put a lot of time into this proposal and we think we
can really improve the business side of things -- not only now to help
both sides, but also going forward when these kinds of threats of
lockouts or strikes or any kind of serious labor disputes (are put to
an end)," said New York Islanders center John Tavares, one of the
players in attendance today. "We want to grow the game, and grow it in
a way where we can work together, and find a solution to the
Some of the provisions put forth today by the NHLPA are designed to
create incentives for clubs to grow local and national team revenues.
Fehr and the Players believe stabilizing all 30 markets is the best
approach in creating a healthy league.
"Regardless of how you view the industry, as a whole, it may be that
there are some individual franchises that need some attention," Fehr
said. "The owners have certainly indicated to us that they believe
that is true. So, what we wanted to do was try, as you should in
bargaining, and address the concerns that are given to you, if you
believe that you can do so."
Added Ottawa Senators veteran defenseman Chris Phillips, "I think was
a positive day for us to counter and give our proposal and our ideas
on how to make it a viable system for all clubs to succeed."
It's near impossible to draw any conclusions from today's meetings,
given that the members of the NHL barely responded to what was put in
front of them. Yes, there were some discussions related to various
topics, but as Bettman put it, "We need to evaluate it and make sure
we fully understand it."
"You don't really know them on a personal level, so you don't know how
they react to certain things," said Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner.
"They didn't really say too much on what their thoughts were on it.
Obviously, they want to gather the information and make sure they have
a firm grasp on what it is that we're proposing before they come back
to us with anything."
With the salary cap remaining in play -- which has surprised many --
there seem to be a few points proposed that would alter the definition
of the cap.
Fehr indicated that "there are a couple of small exceptions to (the
cap), but they're very limited and very defined."
In terms of the Players' reaction to the points made in the NHL's
initial proposed related to contracts -- such as a five-year
entry-level limit, the elimination of salary arbitration, and a
five-year cap on length on of contracts -- there was no direction
"We have proposed that there be no changes in any significant way to
the player contracting rules," Fehr indicated. "We have a couple of
things that we're going to get back to them on that we're still
working on, but essentially, the current system would not be
According to one League source, the NHL was "interested" and
"intrigued" by what the NHLPA brought to the table, and that seemed to
resonate with the players, who aren't drawing any conclusions.
"They were intuitive, they listened and were very interested in what
we had to say," said Tavares.
Communication between the players has also helped the process. There
appears to be a significant number of athletes interested in
participating, as much as they can, in these negotiations and are
keeping close tabs on how everything progresses.
"There's been a lot of communication, in terms of this deal," Phillips
said. "We haven't all been fully aware of the exact numbers of what
it's going to be, but we've all been very informed."
As the NHL continues to evaluate the proposal, both parties seem
optimistic a deal can still be reached before Sept. 15, when the
current CBA expires.
"I think our goal, and their goal, is to still get something done
before the 15th, and the word 'lockout' hopefully doesn't come up
again," said Gagner.
There's still plenty of work to be done, though, as the NHL will
undoubtedly counter the NHLPA's offer and the two sides will negotiate
to a middle ground.
"Our hope is that we can take care of business in the next month,"
Bettman added. "That's our goal."
That timeline could become fairly realistic based on how tomorrow's