It seems that pessimism over the ongoing NHL lockout has quickly and suddenly turned to unbridled joy and optimism that not only could the season be saved, but 82 games actually be played in 2012-13 -- starting as soon as November 2.
On Tuesday morning Defending Big D posted a roundtable discussion regarding the current NHL lockout where I posted the following thoughts regarding the chances of a deal being made in time to save the 2012-13 season:
Two weeks ago I would have said I was fairly optimistic that the NHL and NHLPA would come to an agreement, at the very least, in time for the season to start around the holidays. I felt that the Winter Classic was too valuable an asset for either side to lose, that the players would not be willing to take an entire season without a paycheck and that enough owners in the league would suffer without a season that at some point, a deal would be reached.
The past two weeks, however, both sides have dug into their trenches. Teams are telling their AHL players to secure housing for the length of the season and NHL players are settling into new teams in Europe. There have not been any signs of significant movement from either side and right now it seems to be more about pride and "winning" than it is about doing what is best for the league and moving forward.
It's amazing how quickly things can change.
On Tuesday, the NHL made a surprise proposal to the NHLPA with the plan of starting the season on November 2 and contingent on an 82 game season. For that to happen, the NHL said a deal must be reached no later than October 25; essentially the NHL has made a fairly realistic, take-it-or-leave-it proposal to the NHLPA.
Most of us expected Don Fehr and the union to immediately strike down the offer, no matter how grand Gary Bettman attempted to make it seem, because that is what we had become accustomed to over the course of these "negotiations;" instead, Fehr made it known that the NHL's proposal might provide the framework for a negotiated deal, depending on how the players reacted.
When you combine all the elements of yesterday's events, along with player optimism over the offer as well, then it's understandable that here we stand on Wednesday with many feeling that hockey as soon as the first week of November is certainly a realistic possibility. It's an incredible turnaround from what the general consensus was as late as Monday, with Bob McKenzie and Elliotte Friedman both publishing articles stating their worries over a lost season.
And suddenly the NHL comes out of the blue with a reasonable offer.
On Wednesday, the NHL released the full details of the CBA -- which you can read here. Even more importantly, they released detailed explanations of the CBA proposal and what it all means.
Here are some highlights:
- Six year term (with option for 7th year).
- Current HRR accounting subject to mutual clarification of existing interpretations and settlements.
- 50 percent share of HRR for each year of the term.
- Salary cap for the 2012-13 season will be set at $59.9 million, with a floor of $43.9 million.
- NHL salaries for players in the AHL will count against the cap.
- ELC's limited to two years.
- Maximum contract length of five years.
- Year-over-year increase or decrease in AAV limited to 5%.
- NHL clubs drafted European clubs have four years of exclusive negotiating rights.
- NHL will commit $200 million per season to revenue sharing.
The timing of the offer is especially interesting, coming just one day after a bombshell story broke about the league hiring Frank Luntz to conduct a focus group to determine how best to "spin" the lockout to gain the favor of the fans. It has been speculated that the focus group results -- as well as the reaction of the media and the fans to the focus group news -- put pressure on the NHL to act, as fan apathy towards the league was a much bigger threat than the NHL ever realized possible.
What is brilliant about this move is that it puts all of the pressure on the NHLPA, not just because of the logical nature of the proposal itself but because of the timing and the stipulations behind it. Suddenly, the fans see the NHL as making the first move to ensure a full 82-game season actually happens and now it is up to the union on whether that actually occurs or not.
Putting the full details of the proposal on NHL.com is also a very interesting move, as now it moves negotiations directly into the public forum -- something the league has stated is not something they want to do. Seeing as how the details of the proposal were being leaked to the media -- with many details sometimes wrong -- it seems the league decided it best to just release the actual details and cut the middle man out.
More to come.