NHL’s New CBA Offer: Deal or No Deal?

Posted: October 17, 2012 by Lamar Lester in Analysis, News
Tags: , , , , , , ,

On Tuesday the NHL revealed their new CBA proposal to the NHLPA. For the most part, it’s a pretty fair deal for both sides. Up to this point the major hiccup in discussions has been the definition of Hockey Related Revenue (HRR). Will it change? Will both sides agree on it?

There are reports that the definition of HRR will remain the same. This alone is great news compared to the League’s last offer, which aimed to redefine the term. As previously stated, the definition of Hockey Related Revenue has a roadblock in negotiations. News that it will stay the same is encouraging.

As it stands, the NHL’s new offer includes:

  • A start date of November 2.
  • A six-year duration with the option for a seventh.
  • A 50/50 split of HRR (Players had 57% in the previous CBA)
  • The honoring of current contracts.

Also, the offer states that unrestricted free agency (UFA) would be obtained at the age of 28 or after eight years of service, entry-level contracts would be decreased to only 2 years, contract length would be limited to five years, arbitration would still exist, and a “Wade Redden Rule” would be implemented. Meaning salaries of NHL players in the American Hockey League would count towards the cap. This prevents teams from burying contracts in the minors. Additionally, any existing deal longer than five years would carry a cap hit in every year of the contract, regardless if the player were to retire with term remaining.

A salary reduction has been a deal-breaker for the NHLPA since day one. The current offer does exactly that, but states the difference would be paid in the later years of the CBA. However, it would still cut the players pay by 12% next season. The NHL has softened its stance on non-economic issues. Though with the UFA age increasing a year and this new “Wade Redden Rule” being added, it will be interesting to see how the players’ association responds.

Some people view the NHL’s offer with a 50/50 revenue split as fair. That if the NHLPA turns it down, they’re the bad guys. Others aren’t on board with that theory. They are taking into account the events of this week. On Monday, Frank Luntz of Luntz Global LLC was revealed as the League’s new public relations guy. Luntz is a political consultant and has done recent work with the Fox News Channel, as well as running focus groups after presidential debates. Luntz was hired to run a NHL focus group to gauge the feelings of fans. The next day, the NHL reveals an offer that makes them look like the saviors to hockey. Rather convenient timing, no? Could the NHL be using the information they obtained to build the offer and make the NHLPA look like the bad guys? It is quite possible and on the minds of many.

Until Tuesday, it had been 34 days since an offer from either side has been put on the table. Since then, 142 NHL players have signed contracts in elsewhere. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, if the NHLPA accepts this offer, training camp would open October 26. It would need to done by October 25 to save 82-game season. If the NHLPA turns this down, they’ll lose their lead in the PR battle, something they’ve done very well in. Everyone believes there is a deal to be made and the ball is in the NHLPA’s court. So here’s a question for them. Deal or no deal?

By Lamar Lester and David Phillips


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