NHL CBA Talks 2012: Details Emerge On Latest NHL Counterproposal

So proud.

The NHL made it's counterproposal to the players yesterday and suddenly optimism reigned from the rooftops, with Gary Bettman saying that both sides took a "significant, meaningful step" forward in negotiations. Just how positive the progress really was is uncertain, although it was apparent that talks have centered primarily on revenue sharing and the salary cap for now.

Now, details are emerging on the NHL's proposal and the details are...confusing. It certainly seems to be a step forward but it's uncertain just how the players will react. The league is calling, once again, for a significant drop in player's share of revenues and calling for a fixed dollar threshold on players' share in revenues in the first three years. It's a change from the NHL's initial proposal but it seems it's still far from what the players are willing to accept.

Details on the proposal after the jump.

Here are the details of the proposal as I understand them, gleaned from multiple media reports:

  • The proposal is for six years, with players seeing their share of revenue decrease from 51.6% in 2012-13, to 50.5% in 2013-14 and 49.6% in 2014-15. The final three years would see the players and owners split revenue down the middle 50-50.
  • The proposal calls for a fixed dollar amount on the cap: $58 million next season, then $60 million, $62 million, $64.2 million, $67.6 million and finally $71.1 million in the final year. It should be noted that the cap was projected to be $70.2 million in 2012-13 under the current CBA.
  • The proposal does not call for salary rollbacks, however. Instead, it seems that the cuts would come from players putting a significant amount in escrow to make up the change in revenue sharing. Which, essentially, amounts to a significant salary rollback without actually calling it one.
  • "Necessary adjustments would be financed entirely from a combination of modified contracting practices, increases in league-wide revenue and from the players' Escrow contributions." [Darren Dreger]
  • It also seems the proposal would redefine Hockey Related Revenue.

There are a couple of other issues at play here, specifically the question of just how the NHL proposes teams get under the $58 million cap proposed by the league. There's talk of amnesty buyouts and even a "dispersal draft" of sorts (which will never happen).

The fact that the league is calling for players to give up significantly more in escrow to get to the new revenue sharing percentage seems like it will be an immediate negative for the players, with several outlets reporting that the players will flat out refuse this offer by the NHL based on that principle alone. Puck Daddy has this rather astute headline this morning: "NHL wants to drop salary cap without a player wage rollback? What the what?"

Basically, don't give someone an cumquat when it looks and tastes like an cumquat, and try to call it an tasty orange.

This sums it up well.

Now, it seems that the NHL is at least willing to play ball with the players on the issue of revenue sharing. In that vein, it's certainly a step forward in negotiations. While the players certainly won't agree to this proposal, the hope is that it provides enough common ground for significant negotiations to move forward.

What has not been addressed, however, is the NHL's proposal to drastically alter players' contracts. The NHLPA did not mention any of that issue in their proposal and this latest proposal by the NHL was focused squarely on economics.

We may be getting closer but there's still a long ways to go. We'll find out more this afternoon.

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