After recent proposal, end of lockout in sight

The latest rounds of the NHL CBA negotiations look very promising after the league stepped up to the plate by presenting a legitimate offer that should help end the lockout.

The league proposed a six-year CBA, with a mutual option for a seventh year. The proposal also honors the current definition of hockey-related-revenue, subject to both sides making agreements on current disputes and settlements.

The biggest kicker in the new CBA is the split of HRR, and it is an exact 50-50 split. It had been speculated that both sides would eventually reach this number, but no one anticipated the NHL stepping up to the plate after the NHL Player Association failed to make another offer. This was a huge step for the league, as it was the first good faith offer they put forth.

Although things are looking up right now, the NHLPA is still not happy. They note that the deal is better than previous offers, but they also acknowledge that more work needs to be done.

For starters, the way the CBA is worded, the players would be subject to a rollback of 11 percent through escrow payments. The CBA essentially would be borrowing future earnings to hold up a portion of player salaries based on how the HRR number would change over the next two years.

The salary cap would also change significantly under the new CBA. The cap floor would be $43.9 million, the midpoint would be $51.9 million and the ceiling would be $59.9 million.

This new salary cap definition would also have some stipulations attached. Here is an excerpt from the proposal that the NHL released online.

“All years of existing SPCs with terms in excess of five (5) years will be accounted for and charged against a team’s Cap (at full AAV) regardless of whether or where the Player is playing. In the event any such contract is traded during its term, the related Cap charge will travel with the Player, but only for the year(s) in which the Player remains active and is being paid under his NHL SPC. If, at some subsequent point in time the Player retires or ceases to play and/or receive pay under his NHL SPC, the Cap charge will automatically revert (at full AAV) to the Club that initially entered into the contract for the balance of its term.”

For example, although Scott Gomez is currently a member of the Montreal Canadiens, his $7,357,143 cap hit would count for the New York Rangers if he decided to retire, because he was signed by the Rangers less than five years ago. It is safe to that teams who made moves to unload bad contracts would not be in favor of this clause.

Additionally teams would be able to trade cap space, but there will be strict limitations on this clause.

Donald Fehr released a statement about the league’s latest proposal to TSN, and it suggests that the NHLPA will make a new proposal soon.

“Simply put, the owners’ new proposal, while not quite as Draconian as their previous proposals, still represents enormous reductions in player salaries and individual contracting rights,” Fehr wrote. “The proposal does represent movement from their last negotiating position, but still represents very large, immediate and continuing concessions by players to owners, in salary and benefits (the Players’ Share) and in individual player contracting rules.”

This recent offer is one of the best offers the NHLPA has received to this point, but instead of sitting around like they did with the last offer, the players’ association is slated to make another counter-offer.

In addition to the monetary definitions in the latest CBA proposal, there are a few clauses that may not go over too well with the NHLPA.

Under a new CBA, there would be a five-year term limit on all new contracts. Players enjoy having security with teams, and teams also like to protect their investments. Having a limit on contracts is something that is definitely going to be a bargaining chip in the latest round of negotiations. Although this may not be a major sticking point, there is likely going to be wiggle room with this clause in the NHLPA’s new proposal.

Another new clause would shorten entry-level-contracts from three years to two years. The one year slide isn’t a huge sticking point, but it is something the players can use as a concession in bargaining. There would also be a change to unrestricted free agency with the newest CBA proposal, and it would increase the UFA age from 27 to 28 or from seven years of league service to eight years.

This was the first real contract offer in the current round of CBA talks. This is a deal that would enable the league to have an 82 game season, it would save the Winter Classic and it would give the fans hockey.

Although there is going to be some tinkering over the next few days as the NHLPA plans a counter-proposal, if this framework is used, the lockout will end in a matter of weeks.