Haggerty: Why today's NHL offer won't be accepted, and why that's OK

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Haggerty: Why today's NHL offer won't be accepted, and why that's OK

Lets start with this: The 5050 offer made by the NHL on Tuesday isnt going to be accepted by the players.

Thats not necessarily a bad thing as much as its a negotiating thing. Gary Bettman and the 30 NHL overlords finally got the serious talks rolling on Tuesday when they submitted an offer that would preserve an 82-game schedule that would begin on Nov. 2.

We believe that this was a fair offer for a long-term deal, and it's one that we hope gets a positive reaction so that we can drop the puck on November 2 -- which backing up, entails at least a one-week training camp, said Bettman. So we have about nine or ten days to get this all put to bed, signed, sealed and delivered, in order for this offer to be effective and for us to move forward.

We hope that this effort that we've undertaken today would be successful because we know how difficult this all has been for everybody associated with the game, particularly our fans.

Here are the cold hard details:

The league would institute a week-long training camp followed by an NHL season where missed games would be added to the back end of the schedule.

The offer would also immediately drop the players share of Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) to a 5050 split from the current 57 percent level, and would require considerable escrow considerations. It would also require the NHL to pay back the salary lost by players in Year 1 through a series of payment installments over the life of the players contract.

The NHL also backed off slightly on player contract terms. They added another year to make it eight years of service or 28 years old before free agency. The league will keep entry level contracts at three years. It will also keep salary arbitration and would cap all contract terms to a maximum of five years in length.

A few quick thoughts on all of this:

1) The offer clearly puts the pressure on Donald Fehr and the NHLPA as they now have roughly 10 days to work off this proposal and find a way to get something done before both sides give up on an 82-game schedule. Its a lead pipe lock that the players union wont accept this offer fully (they may want to see more revenue sharing, a longer term limit on contracts and the current free agency terms, among other things), but it is something they can work off of to make a workable deal moving forward. Fehr has a reputation as a deal-maker and everybody will now get to see how he makes something happen with a group of players that clearly want to get back to playing hockey. For a league that had its focus group strategy revealed yesterday, its both a clever PR move and a good negotiating strategy that makes the players look greedy if they dont embrace a 5050 split that everybody seemed to see coming.

2) Why did it take this long for a real offer from the league? Its pretty clear the NHL was in no hurry to get things moving with a legit offer, and was happy to miss the first month of the season while waiting to see if Fehr and the NHLPA would crumble in front of them. The league has knocked out one of the slow months of the season that typically kills the non-traditional markets, and will instead sprinkle in games toward the end of the season that will provide good attendance throughout the league. Theoretically keeping an 82-game schedule in a condensed time period could hike Hockey Related Revenue beyond last years numbers. In the end the league is going win this negotiation because this was their plan all along, and only a strong reaction from Fehr and the players could turn this into a lost season proposition. I just dont see that happening at this point.

3) Fehr had told the players during group conference calls and meetings that he didnt have anything he could work off of in negotiations during the previous two months. That led to plenty of wasted time discussing things that didnt really matter in the grand scheme of things. The NHLPA now something Fehr can work off of and almost two weeks to make it happen while the NHL sits and waits. Expect a counter-proposal within a couple of days and some serious discussions leading up through next week as both sides attempt to make something happen. If they can find a middle ground and make an 82-game season possible with a Winter Classic, All-Star Weekend and all of the other fixings that hockey fans have become accustomed to, then nobody is going to remember the hyperbole and heated words leading up to a new CBA once the playoffs roll around.

Things clearly arent a done deal after todays offer from the NHL, and there is legitimacy in those that fear this is some kind of Frank Luntz-crafted maneuver simply to start winning the PR war. But if it also opens the door for a deal to be consummated in the next two weeks by Bettman and Fehr, nobody is really going to care why it happened in the first place.

The fans have spoken loudly and clearly, and they just want the NHL back. That reality isnt a fait accompli, but its one step closer to being one after today.

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

The NHL trade deadline is now less than a week away, with plenty of movement expected despite the perpetual lack of sellers, and an expansion draft perhaps preventing some teams from taking on players they will then need to protect. 

The Bruins shouldn’t be much of a seller as long as they can continue their current good stretch for three more games before the March 1 deadline. The expansion draft shouldn’t be much of a scare either based on the players {Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Malcolm Subban) they might be in danger of losing to the Vegas Golden Knights this summer.

With the Bruins currently outside of a playoff spot by virtue of the one game in hand held by the Florida Panthers (both teams have 66 points vying for the final wild-card spot), it would be no surprise if GM Don Sweeney wanted to be a buyer at the deadline for a Boston roster that could use a big top-six winger with finishing ability, a top-four defenseman that can move the puck and a backup goaltender should Anton Khudobin have any more struggles this season.

The Bruins and Avalanche had been talking steadily in recent weeks about a possible deal for 24-year-old left wing Gabriel Landeskog, but those discussions have hit a standstill with Sweeney refusing to part with either Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in the trade package. That's the 100 percent right move for a Bruins team that shouldn't start trading away blue chip D-man prospects. 

Landeskog has made sense for the Black and Gold because he’s signed long term with a reasonable $5.7 million cap hit, and because he’d theoretically be a good, power forward fit alongside David Krejci.

It’s that type of trade Sweeney and the Bruins are looking to make for a young player with term that will be part of the long-term solution in Boston. They aren’t looking for a repeat of last season where they shipped off good future assets in exchange for pedestrian rental players Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles and missed the playoffs anyway after dipping into the trade market.

In other words, Sweeney doesn’t sound all that keen in dipping heavily into the rental market, for a Patrick Eaves or a Dmitry Kulikov for instance, as he did a year ago.  

“Do I think we have an opportunity to make the playoffs? Absolutely, there’s no question this group has a chance to get in. Whether or not I can find a player between now and the deadline that sort of fills all those gaps, that does remain to be seen,” said Sweeney at the time of the Claude Julien firing, prior to the current four-game winning streak. 

“But I think it dovetails with the fact that I’m not going to be short-sighted. I’m going to stick to the longer term view as to what I have put in place with the intention of being able to bridge and bringing in players like David Backes and surround our guys that we get a chance to win now and be competitive now.

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer-term. Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt in the same regard that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. I’m not going to deviate from what I said. Are there players and we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”

Some of that may change after a current four-game winning streak with a Bruins team that looks much more playoff-worthy than the aimless group that struggled through the first 55 games. But it would have to be the perfect rental at the right price for it to make sense for the Bruins this time around and chances are that might not materialize for a team just looking to hang in there until McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Zach Senyshyn are ready to contribute a couple of years down the road.

So, would people be okay if Sweeney and the Bruins stand pat at the trade deadline if they can’t swing a big hockey deal for a young player like Landeskog who would be part of the long-term plan? Is it acceptable to just let it ride with the current group that has suddenly shown a different gear under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, and bet on the core group rising to the occasion like they didn’t the last couple of years under Julien?

The answer from this humble hockey writer is that Sweeney should pass on anything less than a home run deal for the Black and Gold. The worst thing the Bruins GM could do is get in the way of the momentum that’s naturally starting to roll with his team, or make another severe misstep with his NHL talent evaluation. Right now, draft and development seem to be his strengths, and he should lean into those and away from being a wheeler dealer with wiser, more experienced managers around the NHL looking to once again rob the Black and Gold blind.

So, there’s a chance the Bruins do very little at the deadline and, after thinking about it, the fickle fans should be perfectly okay with that as they watch a newly transformed hockey club. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Talking Bruins with Ray Ferraro

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Talking Bruins with Ray Ferraro

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready for the February heat wave headed our way.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s a podcast I did on Tuesday talking Bruins with former Hartford Whalers great and current outstanding TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro, who is also a great FOH (Friend of Haggs).

*Good piece on a Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster that has already gained plenty of internet plaudits for his great, and now legendary, Nick Bonino goal call in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

*It’s never too early to look at this summer’s crop of NHL draft-eligible players. Right, Kevin Allen?

*Apparently Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews has his own rap song, so he’s got that going for him…which is nice.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer Jason Brough has James Wisniewski trying to revive his NHL career after a short stint in the KHL.

*There’s a call for Nashville backup Juuse Saros to get more playing time between the pipes for the Predators.

*Larry Brooks brings his always interesting take to the Bruins situation in allowing Claude Julien to take the head gig in Montreal, and said it all came down to money. Big surprise there. I think there was also a concern from the B’s about having another PR nightmare on their hands if it was perceived that they stepped in and didn’t allow Julien to gain employment someplace else, regardless of what waited for him in the offseason. It also tells me that the Bruins aren’t afraid of Julien coaching their arch-rivals, which makes perfect sense since they just fired him.

*For something completely different: the image of Woody Harrelson in the Falcon cockpit is both jarring and super awesome.