Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NHL, NHLPA closer than ever in CBA talks but still so far

The twin meetings which involved the NHLPA proposal and the NHL's consideration of such have concluded on Wednesday, with some promising news but not all is well.

Despite the fact that the players' union proposal is roughly $182 million away from the league's offer, the gap is closing fast from the $1 billion difference there had been.

From Bob McKenzie, TSN of Canada: "So, to review, NHLPA is prepared to go to 50-50 immediately, but wants $393M over four years as part of so-called "Make Whole...Only system issue addressed is back-diving contracts (cap hit penalties for retired players) but not 5 per cent variance rule or term limit."

Among the addendums to the new proposal are: For on-ice discipline, appeal process to neutral arbitrator or panel of 3 arbitrators (one NHL, one NHLPA, one neutral; elimination of re-entry waivers and the four-recall rule post trade deadline; that any salary over $1 million in the minors gets counted against the salary cap but not the players' share; the Upper Limit of the salary cap may not fall below 67.25 million in any year of the agreement.

The NHL is still pushing for a five-year term for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, while the PA obviously wants something longer.

In addition, Renaud Lavoie from RDS of Canada stated that he believed this last amended proposal is the last one the union will offer, leaving the league to do with it what it will. The breakdown, according to Lavoie, is as follows: the players' share is 50/50 of Hockey Related Revenues. 182 million in 2012-13, 128 million in2013-14, 72 million in 2014-15 and 11 million in 2015-16.

Read the full release, from TSN here.

Speculation, in the form of a tweet from former Islanders scribe Chris Botta last week, was that if the NHL didn't accept terms of a new NHLPA offer, games through December 15 would be cancelled. Further reports earlier this week indicated the All-Star Game, scheduled for Columbus, would be included in the next round of cuts.

"We're making a move in their direction, so I don't see why they wouldn't consider it," Penguins captain and chief face of the union's negotiating force Sidney Crosby told Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday morning. "What we want back on the make-whole is not even close to what we're putting on the table, everything combined."

Where things turned sour is that the league has apparently been non-plussed by the union's efforts. Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a terse answer minutes after the NHL's meeting completed: "We did not put our offer off the table, even if some owners asked. To think our offer will be better as time goes on is not accurate. We're still far apart. Its frustrating for everybody. We are mystified why we are not playing."

There have been 327 games cancelled to this point, the 67th day of the lockout.

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