We’ve heard about fifty times in the past couple months the saying “today is a big day” for CBA negotiations and today actually is. As the owners have made more concessions this week, the ball is in the players court on whether the NHL is back up and running soon.
After 10 hour negotiations on Wednesday that according to a number of NHL insiders, was a tense day that resulted in talks almost blowing up a number of times, Don Fehr will be making his return to the negotiating table this afternoon as talks remain extremely “fragile”, as one individual close to the situation continues to put it.
Cooler heads led by moderates from both sides have prevailed this week but with Fehr returning to the room, and Bettman likely to follow suit, although he has wanted to stay out, it remains to be seen if things stay away from getting personal again. Guess here is that talks take a step back today as NHL sources continue to insist that Fehr is not prepared to make a deal yet.
Buzz New Proposal made from NHL:
*The NHL’s latest offer on the ‘make-whole’ provision has jumped from $211 million to $300 million but this is believed to be contingent on a 10 year CBA deal (players don’t like). The players had been asking for $389 million on the ‘make whole’, so the owners have made a concession here but the conflict is that Fehr and players have been seeking a CBA term of just five years and really prefer one that is even shorter than five years. However, the players are backed against a wall here and are going to have to agree to at least a seven year term if they want to play this season.
*Overall, the proposal submitted was for a 10-year term with an opt-out clause after eight years. A positive from the owners offer is they proposed unrestricted free agency (27 years old, seven accured seasons) and salary arbitration would remain unchanged from last season. Those are areas the players didn’t want to see changes to.
*An interesting dynamic is the league following the NBA model to some extent when it comes to contract terms and resigning your own free agents.
The league is still proposing a five year contract term limit (players don’t like) but teams can resign their own free agents for up to seven years under the NHL’s proposal. For example the Penguins could sign Evgeni Malkin to a seven year deal but the Los Angeles Kings would only be able to sign Malkin to a five year deal. The players hate this idea and they also don’t like that the league is holding firm to maximum year-to-year salary variance of five per cent.