The clock turned past the midnight hour on Wednesday night in New York City and there they were; the handful of NHL owners and 18 NHL players, still negotiating, trying to move closer to common ground after another marathon day of talks.
On Tuesday the two sides met for over seven hours. Wednesday it was more of the same with the difference being two proposals changing hands, proving that the two sides are serious about getting a deal done and salvaging a NHL season this year. Most of the reports across the web have words like optimism, progress and traction after two days of grueling, lengthy talks.
The players were the first to render a new proposal to the league and after mulling it over, the owners decided to counter with an offer of there own. Some of the highlights of the offer courtesy of TSN.ca include:
– the owners increased their offer in their ‘make-whole’ provision from $211 million to $300 million. This new number is exactly half way to the players request of $389 million and is being viewed as a major concession on behalf of the owners. Now it’s up to the players to acknowledge this and head in the right direction.
Furthermore on this number that the league proposes, only $250 million would go toward the actual ‘make-whole’ provision with the other $50 million being put towards the player’s pension.
– the league’s proposal is for a 10-year deal with an opt-out clause after eight years.
– the owners conceded on the rules for unrestricted free agency and salary arbitration, meaning they won’t change from last year. However, the league and owners refused to move on their stance on a five-year maximum for contracts and a five per cent variance on year-to-year salary. This could be a sticking point moving forward, but in the art of negotiation, it calls for giving in some areas while asking for more in others.
– another concession the owners made was allowing teams to re-sign their own free agents up to a seven-year contract, something that is up considerably from their previous offer.
So here we sit with a much improved offer from the owners and the ball is now in the player’s court. A response could come sometime on Thursday when the two sides are expected to resume talks in New York.
The positives are that they are talking and now sit just $93 million apart. There will be details in all these numbers that will need to be worked out but moving forward the owners and players have something to work from.
The other positive is that the two sides powered through some tense and difficult periods of negotiations last night. According to Sportsnet.ca, the owners threatened to pull the offer from the table stating the players weren’t willing to bend on such items after waiting for this type of offer. But alas, cooler heads prevailed thanks to Pittsburgh Penguins owner Ron Burkle and Tampa Bay’s Jeff Vinik who stepped in and encourage the talks to continue.
It’ll be another big day for the league on Thursday with hopes that more progress can be made and further moving towards a new CBA.
As details emerge we’ll keep you informed.
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