More meetings, more… progress? Not “cautious optimism” this time, but actual progress. Last night, after multiple delays, the NHL and NHLPA met. It’s being reported that the NHLPA has conditionally agreed to the NHL’s proposal of a 10 year CBA.
First off, the deal isn’t done. However, revenue sharing is said to be extremely close to being done and just requires finishing touches. CBA length and contract term have fallen to the wayside as pensions have popped up as the new hot topic. They were previously discussed and said to have been agreed upon, but that has changed.
Both Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman remained tight-lipped with the media last night.
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr: “We spent a half hour or so with the owners committee. They did make a comprehensive response to what we gave them. What we have to do now is go through the document, try to make some sense out of it, compare it and see what the appropriate thing is to do next. It’s better to be meeting than not but I’m not saying anything else more about it.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: “The fact we’re involved in a continuous process is something I’m glad to see but we’re clearly not done yet. There were certain things the Players’ Association asked for and we agreed to and there were some things we moved in their direction and some things we said no to. But that’s part of the process.”
Along with the recent concession of the 10-year CBA, the NHLPA has been willing to bend a little. From the beginning, the players dropped their share of hockey-related revenue from 57 to 50 percent. By doing that they gave away their guaranteed share, thus lessening the value of their contracts. In addition to that, the players have decided to agree on maximum contract term, though previously against it. In recent months, both sides have moved closer to the other in their proposals. A deal is close.
There have been many CBA proposals in the last few days. After weeks of not speaking, the NHL sent the NHLPA a 288-page offer Thursday night. As expected, the union took a few days and countered the NHL on Monday. Finally, last night the NHL countered the NHLPA’s counter-offer to their previous offer. Three offers in six days sounds like a lot, but that’s true, good-faith negotiating.
Major issues aside, it has come out that the NHL and NHLPA have separately had internal discussions on allowing 4 more teams(2 per conference) to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This one is easy. Less regular-season games, less money. More playoff games, more money. Some will like it, others won’t.
Deadlines have been credited with the recent push for a CBA by both sides. Today is the NHLPA’s “deadline” to disclaim interest in these negotiations. This isn’t a true deadline as they could always re-vote and set a new date. As for hard deadlines, January 11th is the drop-date date set by the NHL. If there is no CBA by then, the season will likely be cancelled. That date is predicated on a 48-game season starting on January 19th. The week in-between is said to allow for training camp and preseason games.
In their press conferences last night, neither Gary Bettman nor Donald Fehr said there would definitely be a meeting today, but they both hinted at the idea and willingness to having one. They’re expected to speak on the phone this morning to plan any future meetings.