NHL, players head back to bargaining table

NHL, players head back to bargaining table
October 16, 2012, 8:45 am
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The negotiating committees for the NHL and the players’ union are scheduled to meet today in Toronto and this time they are expected to discuss the core economic issues that have delayed the start of the 2012-13 season.

Last week the two sides negotiated secondary issues such as grievance procedures, drug testing and players’ rights to second opinions from the medical community.

“I don’t want to comment on things like that,” Capitals forward Matt Hendricks said. “Just get the thing done and get us back to playing.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly have met with NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr and his brother, special counsel Steve Fehr, several times since the two exchanged proposals on Sept. 12, three days before the expiration of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Now, the league is seeking a new proposal from the players that can bridge the gap on revenue sharing. The players have offered their share be reduced from 57 percent to as low as 52 percent, based on a 7.1 percent growth in revenue.

The NHL’s proposal begins with the players getting a 47 percent share and gradually rising to 49 percent. It is apparent to everyone on both sides that a 50-50 split in league revenue is the likely to be the end result. It’s how to get there that remains the sticking point.

The owners want immediate salary reductions; the players want the owners to honor all current contracts. The most reasonable compromise would be for players to take a small reduction – say 1 or 2 percent – this season, with gradual rollbacks that achieve the 50-50 split at the end of the five- or six-year deal.   

So, why has more than a month gone by without a single proposal from either side?

“Just the concern that the union will do what its done with our last two offers -- pocket them and ask for more,” Daly told CSNPhilly.com in an email, “which could only lengthen the process, not shorten it.”

“They have an idea where our head is at,” said Steve Fehr, “and maybe we have a good idea where their head is at. Whether an offer is on the table or off the table won’t make as much difference.”

Meanwhile, the NHL is inching closer toward canceling games through the first week of November, pushing back any possibility of the season resuming before mid-November. Players felt the financial sting of the lockout on Monday when they did not receive their first of 13 checks issued every other Monday.