It appears that theres been some progress in the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement talks after weeks of being stuck in neutral. The NHL made a proposal to the NHLPA at the union offices in Toronto that includes a 5050 split of Hockey Related Revenue, according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and a full 82-game schedule that would begin on Nov. 2.
The deal includes no salary rollbacks, according to Bettman, but it was undetermined what role salary escrow and revenue sharing would take in the prospective new CBA. Each NHL team would play an additional game per week for the first five weeks of the season to make up for the first three weeks of games that appear to have already been cancelled.
According to multiple reports, the NHL has also backed off some of the "contract rights" demands from their first offer that included an abolition of salary arbitration, five-year entry level deals, and free agency only after 10 years of service with their original NHL team.
Instead according to John Shannon of Rogers SportsNet, free agency would begin after eight years of service or 28 years old, arbitration would still be in play and entry level deals would four years with a term limit of five years on all new contracts.
If the two sides cant come to an agreement this week its expected that the NHL could cancel up to a months worth of games before the Black Friday showdown between the Bruins and Rangers scheduled for Nov. 23.
Bettman made the announcement to reporters after a brief meeting with NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and lead players union counsel Steve Fehr. The NHLPA indicated it would need a few days to digest the latest NHL offer.
While its doubtful that these exact terms will be accepted by the players union, there is optimism that it will kick-start negotiations in earnest between two sides that have been very quiet on the subject of core economic issues. According to Fehr the offer was for "at least" six years in the new CBA and there was a significant escrow component where the league would pay back players over time for any loss of salary in the first year of the deal.
According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the NHL had refused to discuss any CBA options without a salary cut or rollback component prior to Tuesdays latest offer. So the NHL is gradually moving toward a middle ground -- as the players have since the beginning of talks.
Its a positive step for those wanting to see NHL hockey this season, but it also makes one wonder why it took so long for the league to get to this point with the clock ticking on the regular season.