Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bettman to players: we can work it out

The National Hockey League and NHL Players Association met for several hours through the early afternoon on Tuesday in Toronto, with a significant proposal from one side now on the table.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has offered the players union a plan which would result in a 50-50 split in all hockey related revenues, no salary rollback, and the possibility of a full 82-game regular season, set to begin in early November, if the NHLPA accepts those terms.

"We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season and in that light we made a proposal, an offer really," Bettman said. "It is our best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and [Stanley Cup] Playoffs."

This is significant news as the lockout has eclipsed the one-month mark, and with the decision to cancel more games on the horizon. Currently, all originally-scheduled contests have been shoved aside through October 24.

It is also a major public relations victory for the owners, who were embarrassed on Monday by a slam piece in Deadspin revealing the lengths the NHL will stretch in order to win the hearts and minds of fans, many of whom have encountered their third lockout.

Additional concessions in the new proposal, according to additional reports, will be a five-year limit on all future contracts, entry-level deals will expand to four years, and players will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at age 28 or after eight years of service to one team.

"Gary indicated to me and I assume he indicated to you that they would like to get a full 82-game season in," NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr said. "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 union has a conference call scheduled for 5 PM Eastern time to discuss the breadth of this new offer.

If the proposal is accepted as it has been presented, the Flyers would open the season at home, on Saturday afternoon November 3 against the Anaheim Ducks. That will be followed by a Sunday evening matchup with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Reports indicate that if this plan goes forward, the league will add all excised games from the first block of two-week cancellations throughout the reconstituted schedule in five-week intervals.  The Orange and Black had four games on the slate, including three on home ice.
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