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Players pondering response to NHL's latest labor proposal

August 28, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players' Assn., speaks with the media after labor talks in Toronto on Thursday.
Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players' Assn., speaks… (Chris Young / Associated…)

This post has been updated.

The NHL made a second proposal to the players’ association during labor negotiations Tuesday in New York, but it’s unclear how much it differs from a proposal the players previously rejected and whether it will provide enough of a framework for additional substantive discussions.

“We believe that we made a significant, meaningful step,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters after the second of two sessions held Tuesday at the league’s Manhattan offices.

However, he offered few hints about what that step entailed beyond saying the two sides are closer than before on the issue of revenue sharing.

[UPDATED at 7:49 p.m.: The NHL has proposed a six-year labor deal in which players’ share would dip below a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues in the third year before balancing at 50-50 for the last three, according to several published reports.

USA Today reported the offer called for players’ share of revenue to be 51.6% for the 2012-13 season, 50.5% in 2013-14 and 49.6% in 2014-15 before leveling at at a 50-50 split through the 2017-18 season.

Darren Dreger of Canada’s TSN network reported on his Twitter account that the salary cap would be $58 million for 2012-13 before rising to $60 million in 2013-14 and to $62 million in 2014-15. It is projected to then reach $64.2 million, $67.6 million and, in the 2017-18 season, $71.1 million. The salary cap for the 2012-13 season was pegged at $70.2 million.]

Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players’ Assn., told reporters the NHL’s move Tuesday was “a proposal we intend to respond to” after players have an opportunity to analyze it. That response is expected to be made Wednesday, when talks are scheduled to continue in New York.

The current collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players’ union expires Sept. 15 and the league has said it will lock players out if a new agreement is not in place. In recent weeks, the sides have exchanged proposals without much apparent progress.

Bettman and his second-in-command, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, met Tuesday morning with Fehr and Fehr’s brother and counsel, Steve Fehr, before taking a break. The union executives returned to the table with several players in tow: Mathieu Darche of the Montreal Canadiens, Douglas Murray of the San Jose Sharks and Ron Hainsey of the Winnipeg Jets.

The NHL’s previous proposal would have cut players’ percentage of hockey-related revenues from 57% to 46% of a smaller revenue pie. It also called for extending entry-level contracts from three years to five years while limiting unrestricted free agency to players who have been in the league a minimum of 10 years. The players’ proposed taking salaries that would constitute less than 57% of hockey-related revenues for the first three years of a new deal and proposed increasing league-wide revenue sharing from about $150 million to about $250 million.

In the meantime, some players have been considering the possibility of playing in other leagues if there is a lockout. Ducks winger Teemu Selanne has been thinking about returning to his native Finland and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has discussed playing for Magnitogorsk in his native Russia.

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