Let the real negotiations begin.
On Tuesday in Toronto, the NHLPA and its union head, Donald Fehr presented their long-awaited proposal to the league for a new collective bargaining agreement. Multiple reports suggest that it includes increased revenue sharing among NHL teams, but keeps the current hard salary cap in place (with a few exceptions) and even offers a reduced percentage of hockey-related revenue to the players for the first three years. The union would have the option in the fourth year to revert back to the current CBA.
The increased revenue sharing was no surprise, given that Fehr helped architect the current structure utilized by Major League Baseball when he was the head of its players union. Its also likely to set off a significant debate within the NHL ownership group itself, as big money-makers like the New York Rangers, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Philadelphia will likely resist handing over a greater portion of their profits to the likes of Phoenix, Columbus, Florida and other small market clubs that have trouble generating enough revenue on their own to compensate for player costs.
A large contingent of players, including stars like Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin, were on hand to make the presentation to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and league representatives. No Sharks were known to be at the meeting.
The NHLPAs proposal was thought by some to be better than what the NHL expected, including former player and current TSN hockey analyst Aaron Ward. Still, the union rejected some other significant aspects of the leagues original proposal in July, including increasing the number of years required to become an unrestricted free agent, and capping contract terms.
After hearing the proposal, Bettman said that the league will take the rest of the day to more thoroughly review it and meetings would continue on Wednesday.
The current CBA expires on September 15. If there is no agreement in place by then, the league will lock out the players. It would be the third lockout since Bettman became commissioner in 1993, including the lost season of 2004-05.