NHL & NHLPA Need to Split the Difference – It’s That Simple


As the hockey worlds sits in limbo waiting for the U.S federal mediators to decide if the NHL and NHLPA should continue negotiations, the lockout goes on and on and on……..

One NHL governor told ESPN.com that he has the key to a new CBA and it’s as simple as splitting the difference of what’s on the table.  Yes, it’s that simple but let’s take a look anyway.  Scott Burnside of ESPN has the story.

The governor who remains nameless has a framework of a deal in mind that he feels both sides would be willing to explore and quite possibly sign off on.

Providing the “make-whole” money remains at the agreed upon $300 million and some other details remain in play, the governor says the rest is a matter of meeting in the middle.

The owners want a new CBA of 10-years in length with a player opt-out clause after 8 years.  The players want an 8-year deal with an opt-out after 6.  The proposal from this executive says a 9-year deal with an opt-out after 7-years would be appealing to both the owners and players.

The next hurdle that currently stands in the way is the length of contracts that teams can sign free agents to. The league wants a five-year maximum while the players are seeking a seven-year max.  The recommended option?  You guessed it, a six-year maximum with some protection around the front-load/back-diving clauses that we are seeing in more free-agents contracts in recent years.

There is also the detail of how long a free-agent can resign with his current club.  The league is willing to allow seven-years in this case but the players want nine-years.  Again, a proposed eight-year maximum in these circumstances should be enough to get both sides to agree.

Burnside goes on to briefly mention the simple buy-out options as along as they remain within the salary cap.  This is a sticking point, albeit a minor one compared to the two major issues mentioned above.

It’s been said that the players would take this type of deal to a vote and it’s speculated that this would be enough for them to agree to a new CBA.  Then, finally then hockey would return to it’s rightful rinks; the NHL rinks.

Sounds simple doesn’t it.  Maybe too simple in this case when you have the humongous egos of Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr involved.  After all, when six owners met with eighteen players there was great progress made and only to see it fall apart when Fehr and Bettman re-entered the picture.

It’s been said on TSN last week that the owners don’t care for Fehr and won’t deal with him.  If this is true a new CBA isn’t likely to happen anytime soon meaning we’d lose not only this season but next year’s as well.

If the two sides are truly as close to a deal as we are being led to believe they are, then having this proposed should not only restart negotiations, but fast track the process to a new deal.  Unless of course this whole ordeal  has become personal which Don Cherry believes for Gary Bettman it has.  If that’s the case we can kiss hockey goodbye for this year.

Let’s hope this one governor has enough support from his colleagues that the NHL and NHLPA will at least entertain the idea of negotiating over this potential proposal.  Without it they’ll likely continue to spin their tires in the mud, driving the game deeper and deeper into the ground.