By Helene Elliott
1:43 PM EST, November 21, 2012
The NHL Players’ Assn. made what it called a move in the NHL’s direction by presenting a revised, five-year proposal during collective bargaining talks with the league Wednesday morning in New York.
Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, said the new “comprehensive” proposal narrows the gap between the union and management to $182 million over five years. However, the NHL has disputed the union’s calculations in previous proposals, so the offer might not be enough to end the dispute or persuade the NHL to lift the lockout it imposed Sept. 15.
“It’s an effort about as good as we can do to try and see if there’s an agreement that can be reached,” Fehr told reporters in New York.
The most significant shift by the union is it is no longer seeking a guaranteed amount in revenue each season and is instead proposing a percentage-based system to split future revenue.
Hockey-related revenue hit $3.3 billion last season but could be depressed in future seasons by a possible loss of fans and sponsors as a result of the lockout. The NHL has canceled games through Nov. 30 as well as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. If there’s no resolution soon, the league is likely to cancel another block of games into mid-December.
Both sides have endorsed a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue, but the union has wanted a gradual phase-in of the reduction from last season’s 57% share and the league has wanted an immediate drop. The league’s “make whole” promise — that players would be paid the full value of current contracts via deferred payments that would count against future earnings — has been the biggest point of contention.
The players have also opposed the league’s proposal to delay free agency by a year and to eliminate salary arbitration.