A New Hope?

Greg Fiume - Getty Images

With the NHL's latest offer today is it time for hope?

A day that began with little fanfare ended with a new proposal put forth from the NHL. What we know so far is that the NHL proposed a 50-50 revenue split on a long term deal. The season would begin on November 2nd and a full 82 game schedule would be played by adding one additional game to the schedule every five weeks. Outside of that not a lot is known right now. John Shannon (@JSPortsnet) has some details on his twitter feed here, but those are as yet unconfirmed.

Is this latest proposal reason for hope? Well, on one had, it does appear to have some aspects that the PA should like. The 50-50 split of revenue would be better than players in the NFL or NBA got, thus making this a win for the players based on recent deals. Furthermore, according to Gary Bettman, the deal is 50-50 "across the board", which means no cut off the top to owners for arena improvements, something that NFL and NBA owners were able to get. There is also a provision that would somehow make players whole for revenues lost this year over the life of their deals, although the specifics of that are not fully known.

On the other hand, there are a few alleged items that the PA won't jump for joy over. Free agency beginning at 28 or 8 years isn't a great change from the existing 27 or 7 years, but is still not something the PA will like. Contract lengths of five years is another item that the PA may bristle at, but that length is in keeping with the NBA so there is at least a comparable.

Perhaps the most contentious item may be the requirement that NHL contracts in the AHL count against the salary cap. What exactly that means will have a big impact. Clearly Wade Redden's deal will count against the Rangers salary cap, and thus towards the 50-50 revenue split. However, what is unknown is if players on two-way deals, such as recent draft picks, will also count towards the count. The initial twitter response is that this clause is intended only for the Wade Redden's of the world, but that's still not confirmed. If two-way deals counted against the cap then that would reduce the NHL players share of revenue below 50%, and perhaps even lower than the split of revenue football and basketball players. Keep an eye out on this issue as more becomes available.

On the bright side, we should know something soon. The NHLPA is meeting via conference call with the players at 5:00 PM today to discuss the deal and discuss next steps. If both sides want to preserve the 82 game schedule and keep that November 2nd date then there isn't a lot of time to get things done. I can only hope that the next couple of days are excitement leading to an eventual deal and not a further jerking around of fans. One thing is for sure, unless there is a poison pill in this deal, and there very well could be, this definitely changes the nature of these negotiations and puts a lot of pressure on the PA to get something done or appear to the fans to be obstructionists lead by a man who has already canceled one World Series.

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