September 12, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHLPA executive director Don Fehr (center) flanked by Vancouver Canucks player Manny Malhotra (left) and Winnipeg Jets player Ron Hainsey (right) during a press conference at the 2012 NHLPA summer player meetings at the Marriott Marquis. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Players Present Significant Proposal, Progress To Be Made?

March 24, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; New York Rangers forward Brad Richards (19) during the pre game warm up against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

After a three-hour session, the NHLPA has submitted a significant new proposal Wednesday, but the owners don’t view it as breaking ground towards a new deal.

Following another silent week full of empty negotiating tables, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday.  After the meeting came to a close, the players’ union had reportedly submitted a five-year proposal in which they are fully prepared to take on an immediate 50/50 split in revenue sharing.  This is on the condition that the players receive $393 million over four years as part of a “Make Whole Provision.”  However, the owners still want more concessions.

“On the big things there was, as of today, no reciprocity in any meaningful sense,” said NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, however, gave a positive tone even though the distance between the two sides is still significant.

“We’re still far apart,” said Bettman. “But hopefully there’s some momentum so we can bring this to a close.”

Unlike the frustration that brought the meetings to an abrupt end a couple of weeks ago, Bettman actually spoke as if he sees some areas where progress can be made.

TSN Insider Bob McKenzie posted a series of tweets following the meeting regarding the terms of the offer.

“I have no clue how the NHL will react but I suspect it will want to negotiate $182M difference on Make Whole and will continue to push on systems,” said McKenzie. “Five per cent variance rule and combined anti-second contract measures (2 yr ELS, 1 yr delay on arb) are key, but are they hills worth dying on..”

McKenzie also released the year-by-year breakdown on the $393 million Make Whole Provision and it’s as follows:

Year 1: 182M, Year 2: 128M, Year 3: 72M, Year 4: 11M.

The proposal can be viewed in its entirety here:

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr came out of the meeting admitting they are still $182 million apart.

“We’ve moved in their direction previously on a couple of the player contracting issues; the rest are very, very, very important to the players,” Fehr said.

That very, very, very important factor would primarily include the honouring of current contracts.  Since the players finally caving to the 50/50 Hockey Related Revenue sharing split, the guaranteed player contracts have taken center stage in the dispute.  NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly speaks harshly against that particular notion.

“If their proposal continues to be a guaranteed player amount, sitting here on Nov. 19, that’s not a proposal that would ever be acceptable to us,” said Daly.

This proposal has been widely considered by analysts to be based off the NHL’s most recent offer.  New York Rangers forward Brad Richards says the ball is in their court now.

“It is a move in their direction again and based off their proposal,” said Richards. “There has to be an effort from them to get this done now.”

The new proposal is a significant step forward in this painful negotiation process.  Though Fehr says it doesn’t focus on core economic issues, the main roadblocks in contract terms and revenue sharing are addressed.

Fehr says the current proposal is exactly $182 million apart.  Bettman said the last proposal was nearly $1 billion apart, meaning the players have moved “far more than halfway.”

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