‘Make Whole’ provision could be key to NHL lockout

‘Make Whole’ provision could be key to NHL lockout
November 5, 2012, 2:45 pm
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Jay Beagle has spent the past six weeks lugging his hockey equipment from his red pickup truck to the no-frills locker room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
“I guess I’m getting used to the routine,” the Capitals center said Monday after skating with teammates Jason Chimera and John Carlson. “I don’t want to.”
Monday was Day 51 of the NHL lockout, but just three days after the league cancelled the Winter Classic there was renewed hope that real progress is being made between the owners and players.
A long bargaining session between NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr over the weekend was productive enough to warrant a second round of formal talks to begin Tuesday at the NHL’s headquarters in New York.
“Obviously, [cancelling] the Winter Classic was a huge step and it’s sad to see,” Beagle said. “Being a part of it two years ago it’s something close to my heart. I loved watching it and I loved playing in it. It’s not good to see that cancelled, but it got talks going so it could be a positive thing.”
Beagle said there is an NHLPA conference call scheduled for Monday that will inform players on the progress made over the weekend. That conference call likely will include several questions regarding the “Make Whole” provisions introduced by the owners last week.
In their most recent proposal, the league said teams would honor players’ current contracts with deferred payments that count against the players’ overall share in future revenues.
The players balked at that proposal and the NHL is now reportedly coming back with provisions in which the league would accept most – if not all – of that burden in exchange for an immediate 50-50 split in revenue.
It is worth noting that the two principle figures in the negotiations are not Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, whose relationship over the past several months has grown considerably icy.
Daly and Steve Fehr seem to have made more progress in private talks than any involving all four negotiators. That seems to follow a similar script to the NHL’s work stoppage in 2005, when Daly and NHLPA deputy Ted Saskin created the framework for the CBA that ended the last lockout
If Daly and Steve Fehr can come to an agreement on the “make whole” issue – which has been a rallying point for the players – it could lead the way to agreements over the length of player contracts, and at what point players can be eligible for arbitration, restricted free agency and unrestricted free agency.
Beagle admits he has not paid much attention to the details of the negotiations and is simply waiting to hear word that the lockout is over and it’s time to report back to work.
“I’m a guy who just came into the league and when they tell me to play I’m going to be playing,” Beagle said. “When I hear some good news it’s uplifting and I get excited.”