NHL offers players a 50-50 revenue split
Hopefully they get this signed within the next few days and we have a full season.
The ball is now in the players' court.
The NHL injected life into a stagnant labor negotiation Tuesday, making a surprise offer to the NHL Players' Association that was highlighted by a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue and a full 82-game season starting Nov. 2.
The NHLPA will hold a 5 p.m. ET conference call to discuss the offer with the players' negotiating committee and the union's executive board. But a source told ESPNNewYork.com that it is "doubtful" that the union will formally respond Tuesday.
"(The offer) is not short, and there were some explanatory documents that we still have to wade through,'' NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told the assembled media at the union head office.
"So the process that we're going to engage in now is to make sure we read it completely and fully, that we understand it ... then obviously what we will do is discuss it internally with our own negotiating committee and executive board and then get back together with the NHL."
Fehr didn't say exactly when the union would invite the NHL back to bargaining table with a reaction to the offer, acknowledging it would be "sooner rather than later."
The key question players will have is just how the 50-50 split, down from the 57 percent earned by the players in the expired collective bargaining agreement, will affect their current signed contracts. That has been a key issue in these negotiations -- players not wanting to give up much, if any, of current signed salaries via escrow payments in any new CBA.
A source told ESPN.com that there is a mechanism in place in the league's latest offer to defer payments based on future growth -- in other words, somewhat mitigating the players' financial pain in the first few years.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the offer Tuesday at the NHLPA's head office in Toronto, where the league and the players' union discussed core economic issues rather than continuing to focus on secondary issues.
"We made a proposal, an offer, really that is our best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and playoffs," Bettman said. "This offer that we made obviously was contingent upon having an 82-game regular season.
"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."
Fehr said that the offer is "at least six years in length."
The NHL has backed down from earlier proposals for some systemic changes to player contracts, league sources told ESPN.com. Tuesday's offer also reopened the possibility of salary arbitration and called for unrestricted free agents to have at least eight years' service time (or be 28 years old), according to the sources.
The league maintained its stance on long-term contracts, wanting to cap deals at five years in length, sources told ESPN.com. The league's revenue-sharing offer calls for about $200 million, up from about $150 million in the last CBA, the sources said.
The NHL's last offer on Sept. 13 called for the players to receive 49 percent of hockey-related revenue in Year 1, followed by 48 percent in Year 2 and then 47 for the remainder of the six-year deal.
The union's last offer on Sept. 13, based on 7.1 percent revenue growth, called for the players' share to be 54.3 percent in Year 1 and end at 52.3 percent in Year 5.
The NHL locked out its players on Sept. 15, and the regular season was scheduled to begin on Oct. 11. A Nov. 2 start date would extend the season well into June, but would preserve some of the marquee events, such as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic in Michigan.
This is the third lockout under Bettman's watch, but unlike the previous two, dialogue has remained steady. The two sides last met last week in New York.
The lockout, which already has wiped out the entire preseason, turned a month old Monday, the same day NHL players would have received their first league paychecks of the season -- had there been hockey.