Finally, it’s a start.
The puck is now in the NHL players’ end with a chance to move forward.
In a major step toward breaking the impasse on a collective bargaining agreement and beginning serious negotiations to end the lockout, the league on Tuesday offered a sweeping proposal that calls for a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenues with the players association, no rollbacks in existing contracts, and a condensed 82-game season that would begin Nov. 2.
“It was done in the spirit of getting a deal done,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. The offer is contingent on having a signed agreement in nine or 10 days, Bettman said. The condensed season would mean each team would have to play an extra game every five weeks.
The league locked out the players on Sept. 15, when the previous CBA expired. Talks stalled in the past month, and the entire preseason schedule, as well as the first two weeks of the regular season, were canceled.
The players had been receiving 57 percent of revenues in the last agreement, and Bettman said recovering the lost monies were addressed in the proposal, which NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said would last “at least six years.”
“It’s not a short offer, and we need to read it and understand it,” said Fehr, who met with Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly in Toronto. “Then we’ll get back with the NHL (today) or Wednesday.”
More details of the plan slowly began to emerge.
According to Sportsnet, the definitions of hockey-related revenues to be shared, and the arbitration system, would remain in place, but free agency would climb from age 27 to 28 or require eight seasons played instead of seven.
Contract lengths – currently unlimited – would be restricted to five years, and an entry-level deal for drafted prospects would rise from three to four years. Revenue sharing would rise to about $200 million from $170 million. Also, NHL players’ salaries in the AHL would count under the cap.