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August 28, 2012 | 9:02pm ET
Not so fast
The NHL's latest proposal merely juggles the numbers, source says.

TORONTO, ON -- The NHL and the NHLPA met in New York City today in two separate sessions in another attempt to move closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"We made a counter proposal," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "It is a proposal that we believe is significant and had meaningful movement. It was also designed to address issues that (the NHLPA has) raised with us."

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr told the media that it's a proposal they "intend to respond to."

All of that sounded promising.

The two sides have had open dialogue, despite public fan frustration. Even though they haven't been meeting every single day, there remains some optimism from the NHL and the players that a deal can still be reached by Sept. 15, when the current CBA expires.

(And here comes the "but"...)

But, while the League may categorize its offer as "significant" and "meaningful," several sources close to the situation told TFP this evening the NHL actually presented "very little" in regards to what they call "core economic issues."

Speaking on the basis of anonymity, one source revealed to me this evening that the NHL merely "masked the numbers." What seems good on paper (figure of speech, not the actual document pitched) isn't all its cracked up to be.

As part of the NHL's latest proposal, player contracts are to remain the same and there would be no rollbacks in salaries.

Okay, not bad.

The League also proposed hockey related revenues (HRR) would be split 55-45, with 45 per cent going to the Players (the NHL originally pitched 43 per cent).

A step in the right direction. Good.

(Here it comes...)

But, the NHL wants the current the percentage of player salaries put towards escrow to significantly increase, which, according to the source, effectively cancels out any real changes from the NHL's original proposal back in July and makes today's proposal more or less the same deal.

What exactly does that mean?

Throughout the season, a piece of player salaries is put into a big pot (escrow). Once the season is completed (the process can take a few months), all of the ticket revenue, merchandise sales, broadcast money and other revenues is totaled. Based on those HRR figures, the cash are divided up and sent to the owners and back into the players' pockets.

The NHL proposed a large jump in that percentage figure today. Undoubtedly, this doesn't sit well with the NHLPA.

In 2008-09, 18 per cent was initially deducted from the players’ salaries -- that was the highest figure to date.-- but a portion of that figure was paid back. The following season, the players ended up losing 9.4 per cent of their salaries, and then 2.3 per cent in 2010-11. This past season's figures are still being tallied.

So at the end of all this speculated progress, there really isn't that much to report.

The owners are looking for creative ways to pay the players' less. That's what it boils down to. The two sides are getting closer towards revenue sharing, according to Bettman, but that's simply one piece of the equation. If they cannot agree to a framework on player contracting issues, the Sept. 15 "deadline" will pass before you know it.

The NHL and the NHLPA will meet again tomorrow afternoon in New York City.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.



Aug. 21, 2012 Negotiations set to intensify
Aug. 14, 2012 Positive signs stem from PA proposal
Aug. 13, 2012 NHLPA to present "alternative view"
May 29, 2012 Much to be done in Toronto
Apr. 10, 2012 Habs need proven winner
Feb. 14, 2012 Plenty to consider around deadline
Jan. 06, 2012 Players' wanted say in realignment process


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