By Tim PanaccioCSN Philly
NEW YORK -- A morning meeting that lasted nearly three hours and invited optimism in these CBA talks between the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association ended on a threatening note.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman rejected the unions latest proposal with a counteroffer from the owners that he said would be pulled from the table if a deal is not reached by Saturday when the CBA expires at midnight.
We caucused and decided in the hopes of moving these negotiations along before the weekend that we would make yet another proposal, which we did, Bettman said at league headquarters.
It had meaningful movement in it and an attempt to engage the union finally in trying to make a deal on the economic main issue.
We made clear in presenting the proposal that this proposal was intended to lead to a deal before the weekend, before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, and if in fact a deal was not achievable, what we proposed would be off the table. We were quite clear on that.
At that point, the lockout would begin, and presumably all future offers from the league would be worse.
Bettman said this latest proposal retains the current HRR (hockey related revenues) math and doesnt ask for it to be redefined, a concession to the union.
At the same time, however, he insisted the two sides arent far apart on revenue sharing, and its not an issue.
The union sees revenue sharing as a huge issue; it wants the 10-12 richest teams in the league contributing more of their HRR into the share pot for financially distressed clubs.
A source said the Flyers annually give between 5 million and 7 million in revenue sharing to other clubs.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said he was hoping the league would give the players new proposal serious thought but added, I dont know if this will lead to anything.
We hope it will address a number of concerns clubs have raised, Fehr said, adding the unions proposal retain their core principles.
Fehr also said again that the union rejects anything that includes an absolute reduction in player salaries, given the leagues revenue growth during the current CBA.
Soon after Fehr spoke, Bettman said while the deal on the table from the league can be negotiated, its the only one they will talk about and not the unions offer.
The leagues new six-year offer would see between 250 million and 300 million going back to the players, Bettman suggested. He said that represented about 650 million in concessions to the players since negotiations began in August.
The offer from the league would reduce player salaries by 9.7 percent down from the 19 percent decrease that the league previously offered, Bettman said. That would be achieved through escrow.
ESPN.com said the NHL's counter-proposal offered to start the players share of hockey-related revenue at 49 percent and end it at 47 percent by the end of the term.
At the end, Bettman cautioned that while the league doesnt doubt the players resolve to get a deal done, They shouldnt doubt ours.
He said the deal would be pulled from the table on Saturday night because enough damage to the game has been made and he wants a deal now.
Nobody wants to make a deal more than I do, Bettman said.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org.