NHL Makes Season Saving Offer?


September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Finally, some good news came through the wire yesterday on the heels of  Pittsburgh’s sports teams falling on their faces; the Pirates epic collapse, the Steelers falling to 2-3 with losses to the mediocre Titans and Raiders, Pitt football pretending they are a division II school, and West Virginia football laying an egg on national television.  It would seem the Penguins are our only hope to keep our sports sanity throughout the winter, but with the lockout, there was little hope on the horizon…  BUT, in a dramatic change of events and outlook, the NHL made an offer to the NHLPA yesterday that may just save the winter after all.

Optimism has sky rocketed in the past 24 hours from the players, the league and the fans.  There was a lull in the negotiations and the NHL had seemingly been pressuring the NHLPA to make a proposal before they had any further discussions.  Then out of no where Mr. Bettman and the Owners offered an olive branch to the Players in a desperate attempt to save the entire 82 game season.    Details of the offer are reportedly the following:

  • 50/50 HRR split between the Owners and the Players
  • No immediate reduction in salary (all contract will be paid in full)
  • Contract Lengths will (from now on) have a maximum tenure of 5 years (previously unlimited)
  • Entry Level Contracts will be 4 years (previously 3 years)
  • Free Agency will occur after 8 years of service or at the age of 28 (previously 6 years of service or 27 years of age)
  • Salary cap will be reduced to a maximum of 59.9M (previously 70.2m) but for the 2012-2013 season only teams will be able to play over the salary cap.
  • Revenue Sharing will be put into place of upwards of 200M dollars .  Every team would be eligible to receive revenue sharing but the top 10 money making clubs would be responsible for 50% of the 200M.
  • Average Annual Salaries or Value (AAV) would be relegated to 5% disparity to eliminate deals that are front loaded
  • Any existing contract in excess of 5 years would carry every year of the contract even if the players retire.
  • Salary Cap space can be traded but it would be limited to 3M for each contract year left or 50% of the AAV.
  • The NHLPA has 9 days to respond to the offer and negotiate.  If there is a deal in the next 9 days the season would be a full 82 game season starting Nov. 2 with one week of training camp prior.  Each team would start the schedule as planned and will make up the games missed later in the year.
  • The length of the proposed CBA is at least 6 years.

Keep in mind, these are simply the main points.  One thing that sticks out to me is that it seems the offer is punishing the teams that signed players to  huge front loaded deals more than actually punishing the players who signed them which should be a welcomed sight to the Players.  The players were steadfast on taking no reduction of salary and the NHL accommodated them in this deal.   It’s true the Owners won big time in the last deal and it is also true that they will win again in this deal.  Period.  End of Story.  How much they win by is the only real question.  In this proposal the Owners are reducing the Players share from 57% to 50% which is a huge hit, but it’s also where everyone expected this thing to finish at.  That being said, if this deal were to be accepted (or some form of this deal), make no mistake the players are losing out here in several areas most notably they will have less stability (limited term of contract) and limited free agency which limits the chances the players would have to make huge money (like Parise and Suter money). However, this is probably near, if not, the absolute best deal the players are going to get.

The only, and final question I would have before saying “just fucking take it.” (which I will end up saying regardless of the answer) is: has the NHL redefined the very notion of HRR in this proposal?  If they have, and dramatically, this may just be smoke blown up our skirt in a way for the NHL to take back the PR perception. I don’t want to go into all the things that could go wrong from here, including the fact that Donald Fehr is known for his hard headed negotiations,  I want this post to portray what this is and that is: THIS IS GREAT NEWS ladies and gentleman.  I hope for all our sakes they get this thing figured out in time to start Nov. 2 but I must say, simply, this is a steep timeline to get hockey back, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

My advice, however hard it may be, would be to try and ween expectation a bit, especially, in the afterglow of the amazing orgasmic feeling of optimism this offer has brought about, without hearing Fehr’s response.  I would expect that the NHLPA won’t accept this deal outright right now but I do expect that this will start a week or ten days of intense negotiations which hopefully ends with a new CBA.  Additionally, it isn’t foolish to assume that after this CBA everything will be ironed out indefinitely (Salary Cap with 50/50 split) and there will be no lockout 7 years from now.

I will follow this up with how the Penguins will be effected if this CBA is accepted, but without going into specifics let me say this:  GM Ray Shero may be a god damn genius for leaving 10M in cap space open this year for the first time since the lockout.  If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will do my utmost to answer them in a timely fashion.

Keep your fingers crossed!

UPDATE:  Here is the actual text of the NHL’s latest offer as posted on NHL.com