labor disputes

Did the NHL and the Union Actually Make Some Progress?

Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman.

Hey, did you hear? Gary Bettman says that the league’s counterproposal to the NHLPA’s offer included “meaningful” movement and, via ESPN, that it addressed core economic issues. So! Is it time for us all to get our jerseys out of storage in preparation for opening night!? Not necessarily. After all, it doesn’t much matter if Bettman thinks their latest propsal is meaningful if the players don’t. So, what exactly is in this thing?

From the Post:

The NHL’s proposal, delivered Tuesday, is believed to be a six-year deal that would reduce the players’ share of hockey revenue from the current 57 percent incrementally to the 50-50 split long anticipated as the league’s ultimate goal. The NHL’s July 13 initial proposal asked for a slash to 46 percent, which the union said was 43 percent in current terms.

Additionally, according to reports, the league would set fixed salary caps, pushing back the starting level to $58 million next season, nearly the $59.4 million point of 2010-11. It would then increase $2 million per season for the next two years, and to $71 million in the final season. It was $63.4 million last season, and would be $70.2 million next season if the current CBA continued.

Keep in mind, of course, that the NHL’s initial proposal was something of an extreme starting point for these negotiations. That’s why, even though there’s been some movement, Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated thinks the NHL’s latest offer is “a non-starter.” He gets into some of the math, as does Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy, here. If you want to read all about escrow payments, we suggest you check them both out, once you stop crying upon realizing that this is the sort of thing that hockey writers are forced to analyze these days.

One thing to pay attention to, as broken down by Wyshynski in that Puck Daddy post: The league’s proposal includes a drop in the salary cap, but unlike the last collective bargaining agreement, doesn’t include a rollback in salaries. This means that, if the cap were set at $58 million next year, 16 of the league’s 30 teams would be over it based on their current 2012-13 commitments. (This includes the Rangers, who are currently at roughly $58.5 million, according to Cap Geek.) There are a number of ways this could be addressed, but remember that the specifics for now are all based on the NHL’s current proposal. There are still two and a half weeks until the current CBA runs out, and this is all far from over. Unfortunately.

Did the NHL and the Union Make Some Progress?