So much for optimism (again) in the latest talks of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Two days after the NHL put its latest offer on the table that a 50/50 revenue split, the league struck down all three of the NHLPA’s counteroffers. Each proposal was a step in the wrong direction according to Gary Bettman.
“It’s clear that we are not speaking the same language. I am concerned that we are not progressing,” said the commissioner. “This is the best offer that we have to make. The fact is, we’re nowhere close to what we proposed.”
Both sides met for several hours on Tuesday in Toronto that also included discussion of maintaining an 82-game season starting Nov. 2 should the sides have come to an agreement. On Thursday, the meeting ended abruptly after a 90 minute delay.
Jeremy Jacobs, Bruins owner and chairman of the Board of Governors, was one of four owners representing the league along with Craig Leipold (Minnesota), Ted Leonsis (Washington) and Murray Edwards (Calgary). Shawn Thornton was one of 18 players representing the NHLPA.
At the end of the day, progress from both sides was no where to be found.
“We were done in an hour today because there was really nothing there,” Bettman said. I wish I had better news.”
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, however, thought that the owners recent proposals – much like their previous offers – were not justified. He also mentioned that the players lost money with the last CBA even with the record revenues that the league was brining in.
“There was a season ending lockout eight years ago. That lockout ended with the players agreeing to the 24 percent rollback,” Fehr said. “In exchange, they would get certain contracting rights. The magnitude of that concession were $3.3 billion over the length of the CBA.”
“The NHL got revenues, and biggest years of growth in the last two years. So what proposal against that backdrop did the owners make?” Fehr asked. “After proposals of 24 percent and 17 percent losses – most recent was 12 – players ask is that fair? What do we get?”
The first of the three players’ proposals would have hit the 50/50 revenue split in three years, while the second would be 50/50 in the fifth and the third offer would have implemented the 50/50 split immediately if the owners were to honor the current contracts at 100%.
Compared to the owners offer, Fehr thought the offers from the NHLPA were more than reasonable.
“The players offered real concessions in terms of reducing their share of HRR, with some small degree of protection,” he said. “The players don’t see any reason to take less in terms of dollars.”
With no end in sight to the latest lockout – the third under Bettman’s regime – there will be added speculation on more game’s being cancelled sometime soon. But until there’s progress, both sides will continue to spin the PR war to their advantage.
Either way, hockey fans are left without the NHL for the foreseeable future.
“Today was not a good day,” Fehr said. “It should have been, but it’s not.”