Definitions.

Wednesday’s brief meeting between the NHL and NHLPA has concluded, and what was accomplished?  Well… not much really.  In separate press conferences both NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, and NHLPA Executive Director, Donald Fehr said the two-on-two sit down mostly served to gain full understanding of the NHL’s counter proposal introduced on Tuesday.  Fehr confirmed that he and his team are “working on a proposal in response to this one,” which could be presented as early as tomorrow or as late as Friday.

Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr following August 29th negotiations.

Bettman said in the mean time “there isn’t a lot more for us to do,” that until the NHLPA responds to their most recent offer, it’s another waiting game.  There are only seventeen days until the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires, and the commissioner expressed his eagerness for an agreement to be made that would prevent a player lockout.  “I hope it’s clear that our intention is to make a deal that’s fair.”

Bettman was more willing than normal to give details surrounding the current economic negotiations dealing with player shares in hockey-related revenue (HRR), and explained that the issues he and his team are trying to address, have risen over the past seven years from the current CBA. Throwing a lot of numbers at the press, the NHL commissioner went on to explain that “our counter proposal reduced our original proposal by 460 million dollars over the term of the agreement, by 120 million in the first year;” Bettman went on to say that “we proposed to phase in the relief, that is, the changes we are seeking over the first three years of the agreement.”

Players’ shares would be reduced by 11.5% in the first year, 8.5% in the second year, and 5.5% in the third, hopefully seeing an increase in the players’ share out of the growth in HRR moving forward.  It is through this “phasing in” of the decrease in player HRR share percentage that the NHL believes it is compromising with the NHLPA, who’s earlier counter proposal in August had a similar phase-in structure.

Where this gets hard to follow, outside of all the different numbers being thrown around, is agreeing on what definitions those numbers are based on, that is, 46 percent in relation to what?  Fehr seemed concerned that the NHL is seeking to decrease the HRR and lower player shares of that HRR, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Think of it as cutting a pie into portions without being told how much pie you have in the first place.  Fehr wants to work the numbers and figure out how these arrangement in the latest proposal will affect teams as well as players, which is good, because even the term length of the next CBA isn’t decided upon.  Fehr’s team is advocating for a shorter agreement of three years while the NHL’s last proposal opted for six with an optional seventh (the same as the current CBA, which we are in the seventh year of).

While Fehr is doing his job and looking out for his people, Bettman is doing just the same looking out for the interests of the NHL.  He explain that the definitions of current agreements have got to be changes to reflect their inconsistencies with financial realities the NHL faces.

Overall, the negotiations are still just that, negotiations.  Both sides were at least positive about having something to work with, or at least making progress on defining different areas of concern that will help move things forward.

If your interested in reading up on the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, click here to download a copy.

NHLPA Donald Fehr 8/29 press conference.

NHL Gary Bettman 8/29 press conference.

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