The NHL Real World: CBA Talks Stop Being Polite and Start Getting Real
After the first two meetings between the NHLPA, led by Don Fehr, and the NHL, spearheaded by commissioner Gary Bettman, everyone was saying the right things but no one was saying much of anything.
It is likely very few details were discussed; it was about setting the table for the nitty gritty of negotiations which finally began as of yesterday.
As per several sources, the NHL reportedly has conveyed their initial offer to the players, and we have a real sense of where things stand in this debate with only a few months left until the season–or a lockout–begins.
Conditions of this preliminary offer include: Reducing the player’s share of HRR (hockey-related revenue) to 46% from 57%, where it was during the last CBA; increasing the required number of accrued seasons for unrestricted free agency eligibility to 10; limiting contract terms to five years; eliminating salary arbitration; and increasing the length of entry-level contracts to five years.
Each of these demands–and make no mistake, they are demands–is severe and would be a drastic change from how business has been done since a deal was reached after the 2004-2005 NHL season was lost due to a lockout.
While there has been much speculation of doom and gloom in the mainstream hockey media and blogosphere, it is important to note that this is a first offer, one swung heavily in favor of the owners. In any negotiation your initial offer is always more than you actually reasonably expect to receive, and hopefully this is simply a case of the owners aiming high so they can bargain down to a happy medium.
After Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both signed 13-year, 98 million dollar contracts with the Wild this summer, this proposal could be viewed as a message to the players that those deals will not become a prototype for how owners will deal with superstar players in the future.
Other elements of the proposal also cut back on potential earning for journeyman veterans (no salary arbitration; longer tenure before UFA eligibilty) and rookie phenoms who would have to play five years at likely less than two million dollars per season when previously they could start making seven million or more after their third, like Steven Stamkos did with the Lightning.
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