Players' counter offer could save season or kill it

Players' counter offer could save season or kill it
October 18, 2012, 11:15 am
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When the NHL released to the media full details of its 50-50 proposal to save an 82-game season, there was more to it than simply setting the record straight.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also wanted to drum up some public support.

“That’s all it’s about right now,” Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer told CSNChicago. “We feel they want to get more media on their side.

“We feel it’s been pretty one-sided. We’ve been logical, telling the truth, making sure all our information is disclosed. That’s why everyone’s been able to relate very well to the players’ position.

“[The owners] making this move is a media ploy, but hopefully it’s a very good starting point on negotiations in the next couple weeks.”

Although both sides said earlier they would not negotiate publicly, it will be interesting to see if the NHLPA releases to the public its counter proposal to the NHL, expected later today in Toronto.

The nature of that counter-proposal could determine if there is a 2012-13 hockey season. The NHL has made three proposals so far, moving the players’ share of league revenue from 43 percent to 47 percent to 50 percent.

Each time, the players’ union has responded by adjusting its own counter-proposal, which is structured very differently from the NHL’s and does not call for immediate rollbacks. If NHLPA executive director Don Fehr makes a counter directly off Wednesday’s proposal by the owners, a season can be saved.

If he goes back and makes adjustments to the players’ first two proposals, there’s a good chance the entire regular season is placed in jeopardy.
“We need to be cautiously optimistic,” Capitals left wing Jason Chimera said. “We don’t want to get in a PR battle. We need to do what’s right.

“We came up with some pretty creative ways to do things before. Hopefully, it’s a good step in the process. We want to play 82 games. If we can do that, the PA is going to do everything in its power to do that.”

Brouwer shares the opinion of most NHL players – that a season can be saved if the owners and players can find some common ground on each of their proposals. And so far, there hasn’t been much of that.

The players simply do not want to place 12.3 percent of their 2012-13 salaries in escrow and hope the NHL’s profits exceed the $3.3 billion of last year. If league revenue stayed the same this season the players would not see any of that 12.3 percent.

“The league was wanting us to make a counter proposal on what they proposed,” Brouwer said. “But when you don’t agree with what they’re proposing, it’s tough to make a counter proposal in their terms.

“We’ve been making proposals all along. The league keeps saying we’re not making new proposals, but every time they [make one] they’re just a different philosophy.

“Apparently, they’re not recognizing our proposals as proposals. So it’s tough to talk to guys when they’re not recognizing what you’re trying to do.

“This is a real good starting point where both sides have a deadline we believe is possible to reach. But there are a few hidden gems you have to break down to understand and a few things we can’t quite accept yet. But they’re on the way.”