NHL’s new proposal could end lockout

If the NHL Players’ Association accepts the collective bargaining agreement, the full regular season could be underway in less than two weeks. Source: RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko

If the NHL Players’ Association accepts the collective bargaining agreement, the full regular season could be underway in less than two weeks. Source: RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko

The NHL lockout may soon be over. The league has made a major concession to its players by waiving a major portion of revenue and offering a 50-50 split.

The offer made to the NHL Players’ Association is currently the leading sports headline in America. This comes as no surprise, given the offer’s potential to break the deadlock in talks on a new collective bargaining agreement between the two sides; without such an agreement, the hockey championship cannot take place.

This was the essence of statements recently made both by the commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman, and by the Players’ Association head, Donald Fehr. The latter, in particular, hopes that “the players will review the offer, see it as a starting point, and reach a positive solution.” A positive result would mean the speedy end to the lockout that was announced Sept. 15. The lockout has already derailed the start of the season, which was scheduled for Oct. 11.

Some details of the proposal were revealed by the heads of the two organizations locked in the labor dispute. Fehr stated that the new collective bargaining agreement is intended to be long-term – most likely six years. Bettman, meanwhile, underscored the fact that the regular season will go ahead in its entirety, if the professional union approves the proposal quickly enough. The new season start is slated for Nov. 2, with each team scheduled to play 82 matches.

The financial details of the proposed agreement have yet to be published, but U.S. sources have uncovered one piece of information. The lockout was initially announced because the NHL's proposed collective bargaining agreement sought to redistribute revenue generated by the league. Under the terms of the previous agreement, players’ salaries accounted for 57 percent of league revenue. However, club owners considered the figure to be excessive and demanded that the players’ share be slashed.

The Players’ Association was reluctant to make any serious concessions, noting that the NHL was in no financial difficulty. This was underscored by the previous season’s record takings of $3.3 billion. 

The talks reached an impasse on Sept. 13, when the league and the Players' Association swapped proposals. The NHL insisted on a phased reduction of the players’ share of revenue: from 49 percent to 47 percent, over the course of three seasons. The Players' Association, however, wanted 54.3 percent in the first year of the agreement and 52.3 percent thereafter. 

Sources say that this latest proposal splits the league’s profits equally. Neither Gary Bettmen nor Donald Fehr has denied this claim. Under the arrangement, clubs will have to lower the salary cap from $64.3 million to $59.9 million. However, according to ESPN, the agreement could allow a wage ceiling of $70 million, at least for the first year.

A similar 50-50 proposal brought an end to last season’s NBA lockout. 

If the Players’ Association accepts the offer, it will not be good news for rival KHL, the second largest hockey league in the world. Nearly all of the NHL’s Russian superstars – Alexander Ovechkin, Yevgeny Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Bryzgalov, Sergei Gonchar, Alexander Semin – are currently playing in the KHL, but most are contracted to return to North America as soon as the NHL lockout ends.

First published in Russian in Kommersant Daily

Russian NHL Players Guide by RBTH will be released soon! The Guide will help the hockey fans know more details about the Stanely Cup playoff season. Readers can download this app in October 2012.

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