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NHL players' new proposal fails to produce traction

8:48 AM, Nov 22, 2012   |    comments
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr (center) flanked by Vancouver Canucks player Manny Malhotra (left) and Winnipeg Jets player Ron Hainsey (right) during a press conference at the 2012 NHLPA summer player meetings at the Marriott Marquis. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
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Kevin Allen, USA TODAY Sports

Hope that the 2012-13 season will start any time soon dimmed Wednesday when the NHL Players Association's new proposal failed to produce instant traction toward a quick settlement.

The two sides stopped meeting late in the afternoon, and they are expected touch base by Friday to determine what happens next. Fehr had a 5 p.m. conference call planned with players.

In their five-year proposal, players agreed to the owners' request of a 50-50 split of revenue. But they asked that owners add another $182 million to the owners' offer of $211 million in deferred pay to protect players who already have signed contracts.

Players also asked for a guarantee that the salary cap wouldn't dip below $67.25 million and that from the second year on, the players' dollar share could not be less than the year before.

"Players gave up an awful lot," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said, adding that he believes the two sides are $182 million apart.

DETAILS: What the players proposed

Owners don't see it quite the same way.

"There was movement on some issues by the players association and that was appreciated," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "There was movement by us on some issues, but we are still far apart."

Bettman said he still hoped Wednesday's exchange might have created some momentum to keep the negotiations moving, but the players were discouraged by the results.

"I would just say the response wasn't what we in the room were looking for," said Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey, one of nine players in attendance.

The owners indicated they weren't willing to move off their initial $211 million on the make whole provision.

"On the big things, there was no reciprocity," Fehr said.

From the players' perspective, they believe they are making major concessions because they say the $393 million they are requesting in the make whole proposal doesn't cover the entire amount they believe they need for contracts they already have signed.

The players sought $182 million this season, $128 million in 2013-14, $72 million in 2014-15 and $11 million in 2015-16. The owners' make whole proposal envisioned $149 million in the first year and $62 million in the second year, both deferred by a year.

From the owners' perspective, if they give back $393 million to players, it would be like the 50-50 split becoming 56-57% in the first season, 54% in year two, 52% in year three and still above 50% in year four. The numbers are all dependent on how quickly the league recovers from the financial damage brought about by the lockout.

The question now is whether either side, or both sides, will move from this point.

"To expect our best economic proposal to get better as damage continues to increase isn't particularly realistic," Bettman said. "From the economic standpoint, we have given what we have to give. It was our best offer."

Bettman said owners are collectively losing $18 million to $20 million a day and players are losing $8 million to $10 million a day.

"I don't think it's realistic to think the economic deal is going to get any better," Bettman said.

The expectation is that more games will soon be canceled, including the All-Star Game, scheduled to be played in Columbus.

Bettman didn't appreciate that Fehr revealed details of the players' proposal while owners were studying it.

"There seems to be a lot of spinning and gamesmanship going on for (the media) benefit," Bettman said. "I don't think that is going to help us get to where we need to go."

Bettman said he went through the players' proposal with Fehr and the players point by point, explaining the owners' position.

The proposal also includes measures against back-diving contracts and burying players' big salaries in the minors. But it doesn't cover existing contracts, only ones signed after the new CBA takes effect.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

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