After having talks stall a week ago over disagreements, the NHL and the NHL Players Association have decided to find out what they agree on and it seems like for the first time they are creeping toward a resolution.
In total, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that the two sides have come to some common ground on 13 of 17 issues, but that the four remaining issues could be a serious problem.
“Right now, nothing is agreed on because we won’t agree to anything until we get a deal on core economics,” said one insider familiar with the NHL’s positions told Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star. “But this is stuff where we said, ‘Okay, we’ll go there.’ ”
THINGS AGREED TO IN PRINCIPAL: (1) Moving free agency to June 15 or 48 hours after the Stanley Cup has ended. (2) The ability to trade salary cap space. (3) Elimination of re-entry waivers. (4) Neutral third-party arbitrators to deal with player punishment. (5) A joint health committee. (6) Minimum roster requirements.
CLOSE TO AN AGREEMENT: (1) Entry level contracts, league wants a change to two-years, players want it left at three. (2) Players in the AHL won’t have their salaries count against the players’ share of hockey-related revenue. (3) NHL initially wanted to keep players from being unrestricted free agents until 28 or 10 years, but might settle on eight years after players countered with seven and 27. (4) Players currently get salary arbitration after four years, owners wanted it abolished, may just be pushed back to five years.
WHERE THEY STILL DISAGREE: (1) Splitting hockey-related revenue. This the big one. Sides have agreed on a 50-50 split, but the problem is how. (2) Revenue sharing. Players want a $240 million pool, owners looking more around $200 million. (3) Contract limits. The NHL wanted five-year limits on contracts with a limit to a five-percent variation from year to year. NHLPA is looking for another way to avoid backloading deals. (4) Who pays for the lockout? This is another big sticking point. Players want the NHL to carry the burdon, the league wants a 50-50 split.
The NHLPA is expected to return with a new proposal tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. I still think it’s too soon to get optimistic, but at least they’re talking.