TORONTO – Finally, it’s a start.
The puck is now in the NHL players’ end with a chance to move forward.
In a major step toward breaking the impasse on a collective bargaining agreement and beginning serious negotiations to end the lockout, the league on Tuesday offered a sweeping proposal that calls for a 50/50 split in hockey-related revenues with the players association.
The proposal also calls for no rollbacks in existing contracts, and a condensed 82-game season that would begin Nov. 2.
“It was done in the spirit of getting a deal done,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
The offer is contingent on having a signed agreement in 9 or 10 days, Bettman said. The condensed season would mean each team would have to play an extra game every 5 weeks.
The league locked out the players on Sept. 15, when the previous CBA expired. Talks stalled in the past month, and the entire preseason schedule, as well as the first 2 weeks of the regular season, were cancelled.
The players had been receiving 57 percent of revenues in the last agreement, and Bettman said recovering the lost monies were addressed in the proposal, which NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said would last “at least 6 years.”
“It’s not a short offer and we need to read it and understand it,” said Fehr, who met with Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly in Toronto. “Then we’ll get back with the NHL today or Wednesday.”
Fehr called the plan “an improvement in some respects.” Union leaders were expected to have a conference call with the PA’s executive board Tuesday afternoon.
More details of the plan slowly began to emerge.
According to Sportsnet, the definitions of hockey-related revenues to be shared, and the arbitration system, would remain in place, but free agency would climb from age 27 to 28 or require eight seasons played instead of seven.
Contract lengths – currently unlimited – would be restricted to 5 years, and an entry-level deal for drafted prospects would rise from 3 to 4 years. Revenue sharing would rise to about $200 million from $170 million. Also, NHL players’ salaries in the AHL would count under the cap.
Toews, Sharp commit to charity game
If efforts this week to bring a speedy end to the NHL lockout prove unsuccessful, a “Champs for Charity” game featuring Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland is planned for Oct. 26 at Allstate Arena.
Also set to appear in the exhibition, which will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana, are 10 former Hawks and 10 other NHLers.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. game are priced from $10 to $500 and will be available at Ticketmaster.com beginning at 5 p.m. today.