In an attempt to finally put an end to the lockout, the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to bring in a member of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to assist in labor talks.
“I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement,” FMCS director George H. Cohen said in a statement. ”At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under our auspices…
“Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCS’s long-standing practice, the Agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule and/or the status of the negotiations until further notice.”
The mediation will start on Wednesday. Mediators will meet with both sides before that so that they can head into negotiations with potential compromises already in mind. I’m not sure what it means, but one mediator has already been removed from the process.
The mediation is non-binding and certainly doesn’t guarantee that anything will get done. In fact, the NHL and the NHLPA brought in mediators in 2005 and the season was cancelled just three days later. So while this is a step in the right direction it’s probably still too early to get our hopes up.
Here is where the two sides currently stand:
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.