This past weekend it was confirmed the NHL submitted a new proposal to the union Thursday afternoon. According to reports, the latest offer is approximately 300 pages and is the most “comprehensive proposal” the league has submitted in months.
While the NHLPA takes the time to review the proposal over the weekend, I would recommend everyone remain cautiously optimistic. I’m sure the union will craft a counter offer, since the rumored drop-dead date to start a 48 game season is January 19th. Meaning an agreement would have to be in place sometime during the 2nd week of January. In other words, the NHLPA has time to squeeze the league for a little bit more.
Below are the key highlights of the proposal and what I think are non-issues and key sticking points.
- 10 year agreement with both parties having a mutual opt-out right after 8 years.
The union initially wanted a 5-6 year agreement, but this should really be a non-issue at this point. Both sides likely realize the best thing for this sport right now isn’t new rules or clever marketing campaigns, but actual long-term labor peace and stability.
- 50-50 revenue split between the NHL and the union with current HRR Accounting.
I said back in June the split needed to be at 50/50 in order to stabilize the sport financially. Despite the NHL losing the PR war, they finally got where they needed to be all along. This was the biggest road block and they’ve moved past it.
- Maximum contract length of 6 years for free agents and 7 years for resigning players.
This shouldn’t be as a big of an issue as everyone thinks. The fact of the matter is most players don’t even get 5 year deals and only a small percentage of NHLers will ever have the opportunity to sign a big contract. Some players have even openly mocked the 10+ year contracts that have been handed out over the last couple of seasons. Ultimately, I think the union will counter and they’ll end up settling at 7 years for free agents and 8 years for resignings.
- Year-to-year salary variance limited to no more than 10% of the value of the first year of a contract.
All this does is eliminate front-loaded contracts and is another issue that shouldn’t prevent the puck from being dropped. If a player is guaranteed 30, 40, 100 million dollars, what does it matter if they receive most of it in a few years or divided evenly over the length of the deal? As long as they don’t retire, they’re still going to get their money. The only thing that may hold this up is contract length, which goes hand in hand with salary variance.
- A limit of one “Compliance Buy-Out” per team prior to the 2013-14 season. The buyout will not be charged against the team’s Cap, but will be charged against the Players’ Share.
This gets Wade Redden off our books, so what’s not to like? Perhaps the players won’t want these buyouts to count against their share, but again, this shouldn’t kill the season.
- A salary cap of $70.2 million in 2012-13 and $60 million for 2013-14.
Other than escrow, salary cap reduction will be one of the more contentious issues. The players will obviously want a higher number for next year, as decreasing the cap will no doubt limit the amount of money teams throw around during free agency. With over 250 players set to be UFAs next summer, I wouldn’t expect Fehr to cave on this issue.
Obviously with 300 pages of material, everyone is over simplifying this latest proposal. Plus, there are many smaller issues that still need to be hashed out and no one has really clarified either side’s take on those issues. With that said, in my opinion, there is a framework here for real negotiation. Hopefully the NHLPA actually counters what’s on the table this time and they meet somewhere in the middle.