SBD/August 29, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Makes "Meaningful" Proposal To NHLPA; Talks To Resume Today

Bettman said the proposal made "meaningful" movement, addressed core issues
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday presented NHLPA execs with a new six-year CBA proposal that would “phase in a reduction of their share of league revenues from 57% to a 50-50 split by the fourth year,” according to Kevin Allen of USA TODAY. The NHL's position is that players, “based on the league's average revenue growth rate, would be back at 2011-12 dollar levels and begin to see increases, starting in the fourth year.” The new plan “calls for new hockey-related revenue definitions, and a phased-in approach to generating financial relief for some teams.” The NHLPA "wants the league to share more revenue among teams, but its first proposal offered a plan to provide additional revenue by reducing their share of anticipated revenue growth." The players “don't believe that the league has demonstrated any reason for them to reduce their current 57% other than that NBA and NFL players have given owners a larger share.” According to the NHL's calculations, under its proposal, “players would receive an 11% decrease in the first year, an 8.5% decrease in the second and a 5.5% decrease in the third.” The NHL proposal also "calls for a fixed salary cap of $58 million next season and then caps of $60 million and $62 million." Under the plan, the league "projected a fourth-year salary cap of $64.2 million, a fifth year at $67.6 million and the final season's cap of $71.1 million.” Last season's salary cap was $64.3M, and was “projected to rise" to $70.2M in '12-13. The NHL is “not asking for any rollback in current contracts, suggesting that the adjustment could be made through changes in contracting practices, increases in league-wide revenue and contributions to player escrow” (USA TODAY, 8/29). A source said that the offer would “see the players’ share of revenue reduced to 51.6 per cent in the first year of the deal and 50.5 per cent in the second” (CP, 8/28).

GIVING SOME MEANING
: Bettman said that the proposal “included ‘meaningful’ movement and addressed core economic issues that could bring about a labor stoppage when the collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15.” ESPN N.Y.’s Katie Strang noted two sources “disputed Bettman's claim.” One source said the latest proposal is expected to bring about "little change" (ESPNNY.com, 8/28). In N.Y., Pat Leonard writes, "Judging from Bettman’s insistence that revenue sharing is not a major league issue, it does not appear the league moved any [closer] from its first proposed increase to $190 million of annually shared revenue toward the players’ proposed increase of $250 million” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/29). Bettman said, “I’m trying to get us on to the same page, I’m trying to get us on to a common language.” In Toronto, Lance Hornby notes, “Should this potential new avenue to a settlement fail, Bettman refused to speculate on that signalling a lockout countdown” (TORONTO SUN, 8/29). NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, “It’s a proposal we intend to respond to.” Reps from the NHLPA will meet with the NHL in the league offices in N.Y. this afternoon (Chris Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).

NOT QUITE THERE
: In Detroit, Gregg Krupa notes both sides “seek more revenue sharing for the benefit of more teams.” The NHLPA proposes “expanding revenue sharing by nearly 50 percent to help with the problem of unprofitable, potentially uncompetitive teams.” Before yesterday's negotiating session, team owners and Bettman said that they propose “expanding revenue sharing by about 30 percent.” But some who have looked at that proposal “say it is actually closer to 15 percent” (DETROIT NEWS, 8/29). Rangers C Jeff Halpern said that these negotiations “have a different tone than the lead up to the 2004-05 lockout.” Halpern: “There wasn’t even any talk at this point (in 2004). There were a lot bigger issues on the table and players were already starting to figure out plans for the season.” He added, “There were major fundamental changes that happened in the last one. Right now we’re talking about percentages and dividing revenues. Those things -- it should be easier to talk through those things than it was (to talk) through major shifts in the landscape of the CBA” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/28).
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