Latest NHL proposal likely the last bullet left in the chamber

December 29, 2012, by

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.


  1. Dave says:

    The last bullet point will be the contentious one. I’d expect this to be more of a soft landing, with maybe $65 million next season, then $60 million or 50%, whichever is higher, the following season.

  2. Walt says:

    Enough with the greed on both sides!!!

    Personally, there should be no cap, or floor, if the teams can afford a player, then they sign them, if not, they don’t.

    The Pens for years cried poverty, then they managed to get the necessary money to sign Cindy, Igor Malkin, and made a big offer to Staal. I ask where is this money coming from, they had it and were cheap, but then were forced to pay or lose their stars, that is the way it should be.

    Teams can win with smaller pay rolls, in any sport, and still make money. Why restrict teams, and players for signing for what they are worth. Do you really thins Parisi, and Suter were worth $98 million contracts, then why should the owner of the Wild cry poverty, it’s all a crock of sh*t!!

    • Spozo says:

      The penguins were lucky to suck for so long and were able to draft fleury 1st overall, Malkin 2nd overall, Crosby 1st overall, and Staal 2nd overall in 4 consecutive years. That’s how they became Stanley cup Champions, not because of the ability to pay everyone. You ask where the money came from to pay these guys? It came from several years of having those players at entry level contracts in which the team was successful and made a ton of money. The cap levels the playing field and requires draft strategy and personnel decisions to be more important than how much money you have to spend. Do you remember how good the Rangers teams were when they took the attitude that a big wallet equals success? The cap sparked the most successful Rangers teams we have seen since 97.

      • Walt says:

        My point was that for years the Pens were tight wads, and always cried poverty. Yes they were lucky to draft the way they did because they sucked, and took a dive to get Cindy, but they had the money before that, and just wouldn’t spend it, period!

        Hell, even the state of Pennsylvania bailed out the Pens by helping them with their new building, and they still cried that they were broke. As stated before, it’s a crock of sh*t!!!

        • Dave says:

          You’re not even close to being accurate here.

          The Pens were bankrupt, and when they declared bankruptcy, Mario Lemieux was their biggest creditor (meaning they owned him the most). Lemieux leveraged that to buy the team with his team of investors, which kept the Pens from moving.

        • Dave says:

          And the Crosby draft was the draft after the lockout, so there was no tanking the season. Whether or not the draft was rigged, that’s up to you.