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NHL Lockout: League Makes Significant CBA Offer to NHLPA to Save 2012-13 Season

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League speaks to the media at Crowne Plaza Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Nicholas GossCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2012

The NHL took the next step toward making a new collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday by making a new proposal that calls for a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN.

Bettman says offer contingent on having 82-game season which would begin Nov 2. Says league offered 50/50 share of HRR

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) October 16, 2012

There was an awareness in #NHL offices that they needed to reach out and build some trust #NHLPA

— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) October 16, 2012

League commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear that this process needs to be sorted out quickly for teams to start the season on November 2 (via Ren Lavoie of RDS):

Gary Bettman: "we have about nine or ten days to get this all put to bed, signed, sealed and delivered for this offer to be effective."

— Renaud P Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) October 16, 2012

One of the most interesting parts of the league's new proposal is that the owners aren't asking the players to rollback salaries (via Dan Rosen of NHL.com), which was something that the NHLPA has been adamant throughout this process that they won't accept.

Bettman says there is no rollback. He said proposal was long term deal. He did not mention years in deal.

— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) October 16, 2012

John Shannon of Sportsnet (via Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports) has shared some of the key parts of the NHL's latest proposal.

@jsportsnet w/ details: UFA at 28 yrs/8yrs in NHL; entry level deals = 4 years; long-term contracts capped at 5 yrs.; still have arbitration

— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 16, 2012

UPDATE: Tuesday, October 16 at 5:30 p.m. ET

In my haste,may have noted 4 years for entry level. Told that I am wrong with that number..it appears to be remaining at 3 years

— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) October 16, 2012

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Tuesday, October 16 at 6:37 p.m. ET

Am told entry-level contracts (rookies) in new league offer is 2 years...

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) October 16, 2012

---End of Update---

The only issue I see here is a limit of five years on long-term deals, which was part of the league's original proposal made in July and something the players certainly won't be happy with.

This is one part of the new CBA that both sides should compromise on. I think a term limit of seven or eight years would be something that the owners and players would be comfortable with. It's hard to imagine a five-year term limit being part of the next agreement.

Even though the details outlined above aren't what the players would like in an ideal world, keeping salary arbitration, having entry-level deals stay the same and only increasing the unrestricted free agent age and years of service length by one year are changes that the NHLPA would be foolish to turn down.

This isn't a bad deal for the players, and if they don't accept this proposal or make subtle changes to it that lead to a new deal in time to save a full season, the players will almost certainly end up with a worse deal than what's being offered now.

Here are some other important details from the NHL's offer made on Tuesday:

Just told from NHL source that the NHL's new offer is based on current HRR definition, which is significant.

— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) October 16, 2012

Am told in NHL offer there is a proposal designed to "protect" players for salary reductions in the initial years

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) October 16, 2012

Also league has taken off table some of the systemic changes to player contracts which they asked for in initial July offer

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) October 16, 2012

Don Fehr:"its at least a 6 year proposal."

— Renaud P Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) October 16, 2012

Essentially, the league is saying current contracts will be protected with deferred payments. Plan is to pay it out of future growth.

— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) October 16, 2012

As Dave Shoalts of the Globe and Mail points out, there is still at least one stumbling block that could prevent a deal from getting done.

Escrow could be an issue. Fehr said 50-50 not possible without large escrow bite in early years.

— David Shoalts (@dshoalts) October 16, 2012

Shannon also reported another part of the CBA that is a change from the previous agreement.

Another interesting tidbit from NHL offer... Players' Salaries for those NHLers playing in the AHL would be part of the cap.

— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) October 16, 2012

This means that players such as Wade Redden of the New York Rangers, who have enormous salary cap hits that have been buried in the AHL, will now count against the cap.

The NHLPA will take some time to carefully read the proposal before responding, and there is a meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening when the league's offer will be discussed among the players (via Michael Grange of Sportsnet).

There will be a conference call for #NHLPA executive board and negotiating committee today at 5 p.m. About 60 players. #NHL

— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) October 16, 2012

Most people thought a 50-50 split would be offered at some point, and it's frustrating that it's taken months to get to this stage, but now the NHLPA has a real offer to bargain from.

Since NHLPA leader Donald Fehr did not point out the faults in the NHL's new proposal when he spoke to the media on Tuesday, there is reason to believe that a full season can still be played.

This latest offer was a step in the right direction, but it also makes the owners look like the good guys in the ongoing PR battle.

They have made an effort to not only save the 2012-13 season, they have made a good offer that is beneficial to both sides.

The pressure is now on Fehr and the players to work with this offer and get a new CBA completed in time to start the season on Nov. 2 and ensure that all 82 games are played.

It's important to not get too optimistic about this process after hearing about today's proposal, but now the two sides have officially started to negotiate and that's a good sign.

The NHLPA's response to this offer will tell us a lot about the chances of the 2012-13 starting in early November.

 

Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.

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