Friday, December 19, 2014

Optimism vanishes in NHL labor talks

There were early indications of positive deveopments as the NHL and NHLPA met in New York on Wednesday morning, but after an afternoon meeting, it was clear the sides aren't close to a labor agreement.

Optimism vanishes in NHL labor talks

The NHL and players union met face-to-face for the first time in 16 days on Sunday. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
The NHL and players union met face-to-face for the first time in 16 days on Sunday. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

There were early indications of positive deveopments as the NHL and NHLPA met in New York on Wednesday morning, but after an afternoon meeting, it was clear the sides aren't close to a labor agreement.

The NHL rejected the players' union proposal, and there were no new talks scheduled.

"I'm disappointed," Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA, said of the league's reaction.

He said the NHL offered no reciprocity on major issues.

Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, said he was happy the NHLPA made a proposal but that the sides were "far apart."

Bettman said the league has already made its best offer, and that some owners want him to take it off the table.

The NHLPA moved off its position on guaranteed players' share dollars and shifted more to the owners' demand of a percentage base in the revenue split, according to Fehr.

Fehr said his side's offer today was "about as good as we can do."

If so, it seems like the entire season will be wiped for the second time since 2004-05.

The NHLPA says it is prepared to go to 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue immediately, but the NHL balked at the union's math.

The players want $393 million over four years as part of "make whole" proposal. That's about  $182 million more than the league's $211 million proposal.

But when the "make whole" provision is included _ in the first year, the NHLPA wants the league to contribute $182 million _ the HRR is drastically changed.

TSN's Bob McKenzie estimated the players' HRR share in the first year would be 55 percent, and that it would be at about 54 percent in the second year, 52 percent in the third year, and 50.3 percent in the fourth year.

Said Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: "We wanted progress, but it takes both sides. They're going to have to move a little bit, too. It just shows we want to play."

And get paid.

The NHLPA proposed that the salary cap may not fall below 67.25 million at any time during the five-year deal. Surprisingly, the players' union proposed that clubs will take a cap hit on contracts in the minors over $1 million, such as the Rangers' Wade Redden ($6.5M cap hit).

In a letter to the union, Fehr said "we have protected player rights by refusing to accept their proposals restricting free agency and salary arbitration."

The initial meeting started at 10:30 a.m. and ended about an hour later. The sides met in the afternoon for more than two hours.

Wednesday was the 67th day of the lockout, and games have been canceled through Nov. 30.

Bettman said the business is losing between $18-20 million per day during the lockout, and that that players are losing between $8-10 million per day.

During the news conference, an angry fan _ identified as Jaymes Hall, 41, of Lancaster, according to the New York Daily News _ had a verbal exchange with Bettman.

Bettman would not give a deadline for a deal to be done to save this season. The league is expected to cancel the All-Star Game in Columbus, perhaps as early as Friday.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

 

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Sam Carchidi Inquirer Staff Writer
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