September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

NHL Releases “50/50″ Offer Details, CBA Meeting Thursday

The NHL has released its new six-year “50/50″ Collective Bargaining Agreement proposal to the NHL Players Association.  The two sides are scheduled to meet Thursday on the matter.

The last month has seen little to no progress in negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA, so this news came as a delight to hockey fans who have been growing impatient with the season hanging in the balance.  The new proposal outlines an immediate 50/50 split in Hockey Related Revenues.  Players collected 57% in the past agreement and have been vocal in their reluctance to take a substantial pay-cut so soon in the deal.  This could be the stumbling block moving forward, however, it is a small victory for the players’ union.  This is the first proposal that offers the players 50% of HRR.

The next important component of the offer is the change in player salary and payroll.  The Lower Limit is to be $43.9 million and the Upper Limit is to be $59.9 million.  It also mentions that teams already exceeding the proposed limit will be allowed to maintain that payroll for the 2012-13 season only.  However, no team will be allowed to exceed the former Upper Limit of $70.2 million.  The maximum player contract term is to be five years, which will likely be a concern of with the players.

Despite the unlikelihood of the players accepting this specific deal, both sides have expressed their intentions to preserve the 82-game season schedule.

“We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season and in that light we made a proposal, an offer really. It is our best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and (Stanley Cup) Playoffs,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

NHLPA Executive Director, Donald Fehr, not surprisingly agreed with the notion to save the full season, but says he will not comment on the proposal until it is reviewed in depth by the players’ union.

“We, of course, share that view and would like to get a full 82-game season in. And, so, what our hope is that after we review this that there will be a feeling on the players’ side that this is a proposal from which we can negotiate and try to reach a conclusion. But, we are not in a position to make any comments about it beyond that at this point.”

The deadline by which to salvage the full season was said to be November 2nd and that the deal would have to be “delivered, signed and sealed” by that date.  The proposal covers a total of 10 topics that are to be changed.  The core economics, however, will be the key in how soon this deal is agreed to.

Though it is unlikely that the players will accept this deal, or any deal proposed by the league, it does show imminent progress.  More importantly, the desperation is beginning to show on the side of the owners.  They do not want to lose out on revenue by cutting the season short of its full schedule.

Expect a counter-proposal from the players to be presented at Thursday’s meeting, as has been the theme all summer.  The primary issues will likely be the contract length and the immediate 7% pay-cut from HRR.

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