While I understand the urge to panic, all of the NHL fans out there need to take a nice, deep breath.
Yes, there was lots of nasty rhetoric slung between the NHL and NHLPA during Thursday's short collective bargaining session in Toronto. Both sides accused the other of being unreasonable, unfair and unwilling to cooperate. That makes everything sound like it's going about as well as trying to teach my cat to swim.
But a closer look at the three NHLPA proposals, especially when compared to the NHL's framework from Tuesday, shows the two sides are indeed at least getting closer to finding a middle ground, at least on paper. We'll have more on the greater implication of everything that happened Thursday later today, but let's lay out the most recent proposals from the two sides here, at least the economic framework.
First, let's clarify the NHL's proposal. The NHL offered an immediate drop to a 50-50 split in HRR while promising to pay out the entire value of current contracts even though the cap-hit values would have to be rolled back to fit in the new framework. The catch, and you know there's always a catch, is that those "make good" values would be paid back in even increments over the life of the contract. Additionally, the "make good" money would count against the player's share of HRR in the year it was actually paid out. So while the players would indeed receive the entire value of their current contracts, they would have restricted future earnings because part of each year's HRR share would be dedicated to those payouts. If, for example, the "make good" payouts added up to equaling one percent of the next season's projected HRR, the salary cap would actually be set at 49 percent for that season.
The players were less than thrilled with that idea and gave back three counter-proposals Thursday. Two were formal written proposal while the third, which got the most play online, was presented informally. The caveat to all these is that all this information is my take of what was presented on Twitter and various other media outlets, so the details are only as truthful and unbiased as the people who originally presented them.
Both of the two formal proposals involved a HRR split that scaled back to something around 50/50 gradually over the next five years or so. Both also rely on a projected growth of revenue in order for the scaling to work.
The first employed a set (though as yet unnamed) percentage split of HRR for the first three years while the final two years would be the higher of a 50 percent split or the year three percentage. Without the numbers of where it's starting, that's a hard one to figure out.
The second proposal was that the players hang onto the current compensation of 57 percent. But instead of taking 57 percent of next season's projected HRR to set the cap/escrow in 2013-14, the player's share would grow by 24.7 percent of all revenue growth from the 2012-13 season. The PA claims that over five years at projected five percent growth each year, that would put the split at 50/50 by the fifth year.
The issues the NHL has with both of those are likely two-fold. The first is that neither starts at 50/50 next year. The second is that both are contingent upon the rate of growth over the next five season, making the actual impact less predictable.
The third, and informally presented, proposal was the one that got by far the most buzz. The players would start every new contract as being restricted by a 50/50 HRR split (so a new cap would be calculated by those numbers). The catch, and again, there's always a catch, is that players get full value of all negotiated contracts, and I'm fairly certain they want the money as-written (as opposed to deferred as in the NHL's proposal) and the money that would current be above and beyond that 50/50 split to not count as part of the player's share of HRR. Realistically, that would mean the league would be at about the 57 percent value for next year's contracts but it would drop as the pre-2012 lockout contracts expired.
I tend to be an optimist by nature, so I'm pleased by the fact that these seem to drop the "escalate to 57 percent at the end" caveat of previous PA proposals, just as I was pleased the NHL decided it would be a good idea not to try and demand a rollback of current salaries with their proposal Tuesday. And I honestly don't care what type of vitriol the sides project at this point because neither wants to give up any real or perceived leverage in the negotiations. I'm more curious about what happens over the next week to 10 days in terms of another formal proposal from either side.
Also in today's links, the Jamie Benn contract situation will be slightly tense, Jaromir Jagr tweaks... something and a new addition to the DBD family.
- Before we get started, if you weren't on Twitter late last night, we've had a new addition to the team. Brandon's daughter Valentina Alicia Worley was born just before midnight, and mom and baby are doing well while dad is giddy. We plan for her to join the podcasts in about 18 years if dad hasn't had her join a convent by then. Congrats, Brandon and family!
- I've got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that by the time we're back to worrying about Jamie Benn's contract extension, the lockout will finally be over! The bad news is that contract negotiation will still be rather complicated, even if the new CBA is much friendlier to owners. [DallasNews.com]
- Want more things to worry about? Then start being concerned about Jagr's groin. Jagr left the Kladno game after the first period and did not return with what is reported to be a minor groin injury. That said, he did offer up this quote to a local reporter: "I don't wanna talk about my injury. I will go to see a doctor, and then I let you know what is it." Sounds promising. [@jedli]
- Ryan Garbutt got a fair amount of attention the past few days. The ECHL graduate is actually getting his NHL salary right now because of off-season shoulder surgery, so the Stars brass is allowed to talk about him, but the coaching staff still cannot have contact. And his tweener status as a two-way contract guy who worked his way up from the ECHL led to him being the face for this ESPN story about the lockout's affect on the non-marquee player. [ESPN.com]
- Garbutt's also headed back to his ECHL alma mater, Corpus Christi, this weekend to help celebrate the franchise's 15th season. [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]
- Stephen continued his exclusive interview with Texas Stars general manager Scott White by asking about what he learned from last season and developing prospects. [Hundred Degree Hockey]
- You want more negotiations optimism? Then Justin Bourne's got something for you. [Backhand Shelf]
- Lockout pessimism more your style? [Toronto Sun]
- Tired of thinking about the lockout? BaD Radio had an awesome, in-studio interview with Allen Americans co-owner and former Stars legend Ed Belfour while all that was going down. It's the top listing on the podcast page for the moment. [TheTicket.com]
- Todd has a theory that the idea of having their already-committed salaries count against HRR in future years isn't the only fine print that the players didn't like about Tuesday's proposal. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- Let's start at the very beginning with Neal Broten scoring the first goal in Dallas Stars history. It's a very good place to start.