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Volume 24 No. 158

Leagues and Governing Bodies

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).

: 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" (, 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).

: 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” (, 8/28).

NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith in a Q&A with's Jim Trotter addressed his organization's role in the NFL-NFLRA labor dispute, the union's stance on PED testing, and his relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Below are excerpts from the Q&A:

Q: Can the Players Association do more to resolve the impasse between the NFL and its officials?
Smith: We have done a lot. I stay in touch with [President] Scott Green from the Referees Association. I've met with the National Football League about the issue and made our concerns abundantly clear to them. We've been very public in saying that we believe on a scale of 1-10 the use of replacement referees in the preseason is a 12. That goes up to a 16 now that you're entering into the regular season.

Q: Is there any possibility of the players en masse withholding their services because of safety concerns with replacement officials?
Smith: In America it is the employer's obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible. We believe that if the National Football League fails in that obligation we reserve the right to seek any relief that we believe is appropriate.

Q: Where is the union and the league regarding HGH?
Smith: The league recently informed us that the doctor that they selected to do the population study has not only withdrawn, but is not interested in coming back to do the population at all. We have made it clear to the league that they should either adopt or select one of our doctors to do the population study for HGH -- and interestingly, it is a doctor that has worked for the league before -- in order to move the process forward. But we believe there are only, in broad categories, two fundamental things that the league has to agree to for us to get to a stage of HGH testing. One is to make sure we have a clear, transparent and scientifically valid standard against which our players will be adjudicated; and second that there is an independent arbitration system for players to challenge any finding against them, and an independent arbitration system to handle any appeal of commissioner discipline.

Q: Everyone talks about your relationship with Commissioner Goodell. Do people make too much of it?
Smith: We have a good working relationship. Period. I'm not going to amplify on that at all. The reality of it is, we are a strong union who demonstrated that our players were going to sit together and were going to fight for a deal that was fair. ... It seems to me where there is a commonality of interest, those are the things upon which we should be working together so when it comes to issues of health and safety, compensating players for injuries that they sustained at work, making access to workman's comp easier rather than harder, and ensuring that the right people are on the field when it comes to protecting the players in the game that we all love.

Q: In summation, what are your thoughts on the state of the league, and what are the major issues on the horizon?
Smith: With respect to issues coming down the line, the big issues deal with how we employ our resources to better understand how we can make our game safer. For example, the union recently submitted RFPs to some of the most well known medical research centers in the country, where we asked them to come up with analysis and treatment protocols for how to make our game safer. … Over the next few months we'll work with the National Football League and with accomplished neuroscientists and physicians to come up with the best programs to make our game safer and better for everyone for the next decade (, 8/28).