Players' union studies NHL's 50-50 offer
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With an offer that would split revenues evenly between players and owners, the NHL Tuesday made what might be the first meaningful step toward a resolution in the ongoing lockout, 31 days after the previous collective bargaining agreement expired.
Emerging from a Toronto meeting, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman offered sparse details of the league's proposal but expressed significant hope that the full 2012-13 season could be salvaged, with games beginning Nov. 2.
The offer provides a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, Bettman said, adding that "we believe we addressed the concern that players have about what happens to their salaries as a result in this year of reducing the percentage from 57 [percent under the previous CBA] to 50 percent."
The meeting was top-heavy with four key figures -- Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, NHL Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr and Fehr's brother and assistant, Steve.
Donald Fehr said the NHL's offer covered at least six years, but he reserved much comment until the union can analyze the league's offer, which he said was "not short" and included explanatory documents.
"I would like to believe that after we're done looking at this ... that it will be an excellent starting point and we can go forward and see if there's a deal to be made," Fehr said.
"I've been looking for a way to get these negotiations jump-started, and, if this does it, that would be great. We'll see, though."
Bettman said the league understands that the union needs time to digest the proposal.
A revenue split would put the NHL in the same ballpark as the two other major North American sports leagues with salary caps. The NFL and NBA endured lockouts in 2011 that led to players getting a smaller share of revenues. The new CBAs call for NFL players to get 47 percent, the NBA players to get 49 percent to 51 percent.
It's unclear where expanded revenue sharing, which was a key element in the NHLPA's most recent proposal, stands.
In addition to accepting the new proposal or further negotiating the revenue split, the sides will need to reach agreement on many other points -- from the definition of hockey-related revenue to things such as contract and free-agency parameters, safety, Olympics participation and realignment.
And they will have to do it in a timely manner.
Bettman noted that this proposal is contingent on a full season and that teams will need a week for a shortened training camp.
"So we have about nine or 10 days to get this all put to bed, signed, sealed and delivered in order for this offer to be effective and for us to move forward," he said.
The first two weeks of the season, which was to start Oct. 11, have been called off, but those games could be made up with a condensed schedule.
If things get ironed out and the original schedule picks up Nov. 2, the Penguins would open with four road games in six nights, beginning Nov. 2 at Columbus, with the first home game sNov. 10 against Edmonton.
NOTE -- Before word of the NHL's proposal broke, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he planned to join several other NHL players in Dallas next week for training and scrimmages, similar to the week he spent recently in Vail, Colo.
First Published October 17, 2012 12:00 am