CBA: Cannot Bargain Any ... Less
By Stephen London
At first, it seemed as if NHL owners wanted the players to take a hefty pay cut. Then, the players countered the deal (players' percentage of league revenue drops from 57 percent to 43) with an offer that had a $460 million pay cut, but also introduced more of a revenue-sharing system for the NHL and its financially challenged teams such as the Phoenix Coyotes and Florida Panthers.
Since the proposal from executive director Donald Fehr and the NHLPA during the second week of August, there have been weeks of meetings leading up to last week's counterproposal. The owners' newest offer included some concessions, but also included a reduction in players' salaries from 57 percent to 46 percent of hockey-related revenue.
The revenue sharing that the NHLPA suggested in its last proposal was not included in the most recent owners' proposal.
The NHLPA's reaction was bad enough to cancel all remaining talks that were scheduled between the two sides.
Fehr said at the press conference after the final meeting last week, "The response that was made to us was that if the players are not prepared to make an automatic reset on their aggregate salary levels -- that is to say, as we understand it, a meaningful, absolute reduction in dollar terms for next year as compared to last year-- that they see no point in discussing or responding to the proposals we put forward at the meeting today."
With no meetings scheduled, aside from the Sept. 10 meeting scheduled earlier during the summer, it does not seem as if there will be a new CBA by the Sept. 15 deadline.
"There seems to be no rush by the union to make a deal," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said after the meetings were canceled. "In the last 24 hours, at least four agents have said that the players don't view Sept. 15 to be the real deadline. The real deadline is Oct. 11. Not sure why they're saying that. Once we get past Sept. 14, I think the dynamic changes. The damage to the business changes the dynamic of negotiation, and so from our standpoint, we're hoping they can view it as Sept. 15."
Oct. 11 is when the regular season is slated to start. Even if the two sides come to an agreement by then, the NHL could still lose potential preseason revenue if there is no new CBA by Sept. 15.
Posted Sept. 4, 2012