Stories on the NHL lockout were consistently among the most-read in THE DAILY during the 113-day work stoppage. So, as the '13 NHL season gets underway Saturday, we thought -- for better or worse -- we would take a look back at some of the key developments during the negotiations.
6/29/12: The NHL and NHLPA hold the first formal bargaining session for a new CBA, with 77 days remaining before the expiration of the CBA currently in place. The league delivers a financial presentation and identifies issues it wants to discuss in the CBA during a two-and-a-half-hour meeting in N.Y.
antithesis of want owners wanted in a new CBA
7/5/12: The NHL and NHLPA hold their second formal bargaining session. NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, "When you're beginning negotiations, you need to have dialogue. You need to see what you have a common understanding about, what you need to flesh out, what you need to discuss further. We did some of that today."
7/13/12: The NHL BOG meets in Toronto and drafts its first CBA proposal to the union. The proposal includes restructuring the definition of Hockey-Related Revenue (HRR) and cutting the players’ share from the current 57% to 43%. The proposal also called for a five-year term limit on all contracts, in which signing bonuses would be forbidden and salaries would be the same for every year of the contract. Unrestricted free agency would be granted only after a player has accrued 10 seasons in the NHL, without regard to age. Finally, the proposal would eliminate salary arbitration and extend Entry Level contracts from three years to five years.
7/19/12: The two sides meet in N.Y., and prior to the meeting, the Flyers announce they have signed Predators D and restricted free agent Shea Weber to an offer sheet for 14 years and $100M. The offer is seen as the antithesis of what the owners want in the new CBA. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said of the Flyers’ offer sheet, "Clubs are operating their businesses under the current system.” But ESPN.com's Scott Burnside asked, "How does the league rationalize making significant demands from players, while owners and GMs continue to make the very offers the league insists are hampering the game?"
8/9/12: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, after a meeting that lasted less than two hours, said, “The owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another season.”
8/14/12: The NHLPA, with 23 players in attendance, unveils its CBA proposal to owners during a meeting that lasts just under two hours. The union asks for a three-year deal with an option for a fourth year that would return to the current CBA if the owners decide they do not like it. The union’s proposal does not include the elimination of the salary cap and calls for no changes to player contracts under existing rules. The players would agree to take a reduced share of HRR, but the union wants more aggressive and targeted revenue sharing among the clubs.
8/15/12: Talks break off, with Bettman all but rejecting the union’s proposal. Bettman said, “I'm not sure there's been recognition of the economics of our world, the world of sports, taking into account the NBA and NFL." Fehr: "This is an industry in which the owners insisted upon and got enormous concessions from the players last time (in 2005) with the stated expectation that would fix things. Well, their position now is it did not fix things."
8/16/12: The first effects of NHL labor uncertainty are felt, as the Red Wings cancel the annual prospects tournament slated for Traverse City, Mich.
8/21/12: With the possibility of a lockout looming, the Panthers cancel their third annual rookie camp and tournament. Capitals LW Jason Chimera said, "You look at the revenue that the league has made, it would seem pretty dumb to have a lockout now.”
8/22/12: Bettman and Fehr meet in Toronto. Fehr said, "You could probably observe that there is some degree of frustration between the parties." Oilers LW Taylor Hall signs a seven-year, $42M contract extension, raising some eyebrows as he becomes the 15th player since July 1 to sign a contract of six seasons or more. The signing follows the NHL owners’ original CBA proposal, which called for a five-year term limit on contracts. The Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren wrote, "If clubs are still operating on a business-as-usual principle, doesn't that hurt the NHL's bargaining position?"
8/23/12: The NHL and NHLPA reconvene with their negotiating teams in Toronto. Bettman said, “The NHLPA wants to keep things the way they are, and that is slowing the process. ... We believe that we are paying the players more than we should be.” Fehr: “We want more flexibility and the league doesn’t want that.”
8/28/12: CBA talks resume at NHL HQs in N.Y., and Bettman presents players with a new six-year proposal that would phase in a reduction of their share of league revenues from 57% to a 50-50 split by the fourth year. Bettman said, “I’m trying to get us on to the same page.”
8/31/12: Talks break down after the union counters the league's second proposal with what the NHL finds to be an unsatisfactory response. Canucks C Manny Malhotra said, “We're pretty strong in knowing we put forth a very good proposal.” Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin: “Why do they sign us (to) long-term deals and that kind of money that when the CBA’s going to be done, they want to cut our salary?”
9/5/12: Daly announces talks “have stalled, at least temporarily.” Lightning D Marc-Andre Bergeron: "We're not the only one who should make sacrifices. It seems like we're too good of guys. They try to take advantage of us because they know what we gave the last time, I guess."
9/11/12: After signing LW Brad Marchand to a four-year, $18M extension the previous week, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli signs RW Tyler Seguin to a six-year deal with an annual average of $5.75M. The Globe & Mail’s Eric Duhatschek writes, "How bad can the business of hockey be if teams are trying so hard to get their young players signed under the wire under terms of a contract they say no longer works for them?"
9/13/12: Bettman receives a unanimous vote from owners in support of a league-imposed lockout should no new CBA be agreed to by midnight ET on Sept. 15. The Wild's Parise said of Bettman, "He really loves his lockouts."
9/14/12: A flurry of player signings occurs prior to the CBA expiring, as NHL teams shell out more than $200M in contracts in the 48 hours preceding. Jets LW Evander Kane, who just beat the clock in the final hour before the lockout by agreeing to terms on a six-year, $31.5M contract, said, "It's just business as usual. Players and owners and GMs working out deals as the rules are right now. ... It just so happens that it's an hour before the lockout."
in support of a league-imposed lockout
9/16/12: The first official day of the lockout passes with no communication between the two sides.
9/19/12: The NHL announces the cancellation of the ’12-13 preseason schedule through September 30, which includes a total of 60 games. In addition, the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game, scheduled for Oct. 3 in Belleville, Ontario, has been postponed to '13. Bruins D Andrew Ference said, "We hoped it wouldn't be as confrontational as the last time around, but obviously that wasn't the same sentiment on the other side. We're getting into this rut where we're almost a joke. Every few years we've got to revisit the same thing."
9/20/12: The NHL fines the Red Wings an undisclosed amount for comments made by Senior VP & Alternate Governor Jimmy Devellano. He said during an interview, "The owners can basically be viewed as the Ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the Ranch and allow the players to eat there." The fine is reportedly about $250,000.
9/24/12: The two sides reach agreement on the final accounting of the $3.3B in revenue the NHL took in last season, an all-time high for the league. The financial result means the players will get back almost all of the 8.5% of their salaries that was held in escrow. Those checks reportedly are worth an average of about $163,000.
9/27/12: The NHL announces the cancellation of the remainder of the preseason schedule through October 8.
10/2/12: The NHL and NHLPA meet for less than two hours in N.Y., and come away with no progress to report and some harsh words. Daly said, “Unless they show some willingness to compromise, I don't know how we get this done.” Fehr said, "It's clear that the players have made substantial moves toward the owners and the owners have made substantial moves away from the players."
10/3/12: Red Wings LW Henrik Zetterberg said, "We can't really counter what they're offering. It feels, right now, like if we don't give everything that they want, it doesn't really matter."
10/4/12: The NHL announces the cancellation of the regular-season schedule from Oct. 11-Oct. 24, a period that encompasses 82 games. Blue Jackets D Adrian Aucoin said, "We're on Bettman time. Guys almost counted on it going down this way. It's pretty pathetic really."
10/5/12: Sharks D Dan Boyle said, "It's a certain group of teams that are controlling 30 others.” Sharks LW Ryane Clowe said, "No one's cracking."
10/11/12: On what should have been opening day of the '12-13 NHL regular season, the league and the NHLPA remain in a stalemate.
10/16/12: The NHL puts a new offer on the bargaining table for the NHLPA, which includes a 50-50 split of HRR and no rollback of existing contracts. The new proposal also sets contract term limits at five years and increases the starting point of unrestricted free agency from age 27 to 28. In addition, the proposal increases revenue sharing among clubs from less than $150M to $200M, but short of the union’s proposed $240M. Bettman said the league’s proposal was contingent on an 82-game season beginning Nov. 2. Fehr’s first response to the proposal came in a letter to players and agents. He wrote, “The proposal does represent movement from their last negotiating position."
10/17/12: Jets LW Andrew Ladd said, "We're not going to be bullied into a deal, or peer-pressured into it. There's a lot of parts of the proposal we don't feel are very good. And we're still giving up huge concessions in a lot of areas."
outspoken players throughout CBA negotiations
10/19/12: The NHL announces the cancellation of regular-season games through Nov. 1, bringing the total of cancelled games so far to 135. Hurricanes RW Kevin Westgarth said, "It's not surprising to see the tactics used again and (Bettman) has done this for years -- try to force pressure with the lockout, which is unnecessary, and then basically try to sweat us for as much as they can.”
10/22/12: Daly reveals that NHL GMs were given a 48-hour window to answer questions from their team's players about the CBA offer presented by the owners to the NHLPA last week. NHLPA Special Council Steve Fehr responds, "No owners are allowed to speak to the media about the bargaining. Interesting that they are secretly unleashed to talk to the players about the meetings the players can attend but the owners cannot."
10/24/12: President Obama said, "Y'all should be able to figure this out. Get this done."
10/25/12: The NHL withdraws its latest CBA proposal after a deadline to play a full 82-game season passes with no new discussions between the two sides. Donald Fehr: "They seem to be really good at imposing deadlines and issuing ultimatums and having lockouts."
10/26/12: The NHL announces the cancellation of the regular-season schedule through Nov. 30. A total of 326 regular-season games from Oct. 11 through Nov. 30 are wiped out.
10/30/12: Locked-out players receive their ’11-12 escrow checks, which return 7.98% of what they earned last season, plus interest. The payments amount to about $80,000 for every $1M a player earned, before deductions.
11/1/12: Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk appears on Sportsnet's "Prime Time Sports" and with the status of the Winter Classic in peril, said, "It's an important part of the game. It's got a huge audience, (it's) extremely profitable for the NHL which means it's also profitable for everyone else. It has become a marquee event that I think is very, very important to everyone."
11/2/12: The league announces the cancellation of the '13 Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs that would have been held Jan. 1 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The league also cancels all Hockeytown Festival events scheduled for Dec. 16-31 at Comerica Park.
11/9/12: The NHL and NHLPA after four straight days of negotiating hit a road block. The sides earlier in the week seemed to be moving towards a deal after trading proposals, but still end up about $380M apart on economics. The league's most recent offer would see players receive $211M guaranteed in deferred "make-whole" payments, not nearly enough to satisfy the union.
11/13/12: Daly said, "We're done making proposals. We'll see what they want to do."
11/14/12: Red Wings D Ian White said, "I gotta be honest: I personally think [Bettman's] an idiot. Since he's come in, I think he's done nothing but damage the game."
11/21/12: The NHLPA tables a five-year proposal that includes a 50-50 split of revenues, receiving a percentage of revenue rather than a fixed amount and $393M in deferred make-whole payments throughout the agreement. The league rejects the offer, holding firm on $211M and a 50-50 split. However, the league reportedly agrees with the union’s desire to keep entry-level contracts at three years rather than the NHL-recommended two. Also, the NHLPA agrees to help eliminate front-loaded contracts but rejects the league’s plan to impose term limits and push back free agency.
11/23/12: The NHL cancels all games through Dec. 14, along with the '13 NHL All-Star Weekend festivities in Columbus.
11/24/12: Senators RW Daniel Alfredsson said, "Last time around we knew what the league wanted -- they had to get a cap. This time around I have a hard time seeing what their game plan is."
11/26/12: Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service Dir George Cohen announces NHL-NHLPA negotiations on a new CBA "will now be conducted under our auspices." FMCS Deputy Dir Scot Beckenbaugh, who served as a mediator during the '04-05 lockout, and Mediation Services Dir John Sweeney will serve as mediators.
11/29/12: Bettman proposes arranging a meeting that would exclude execs on both sides and allow owners and players to have an unfiltered exchange of ideas.
12/2/12: The NHLPA accepts the league’s invitation to hold a meeting between players and owners. Daly will lead the league's delegation, and Steve Fehr the union’s delegation. Neither Bettman nor Donald Fehr is expected to attend.
12/4/12-12/5/12: Six owners and 18 players, including Crosby, meet late into the night after hours of negotiations for two straight days in N.Y., exchanging another set of proposals. Most early reports from inside the talks suggest that the sides managed to find some common ground. Daly and Steve Fehr even stood side-by-side when addressing the media after negotiations, which had not happened in the past. For perhaps the first time in the negotiation process, there is a sense of optimism.
Fehr’s presence was a “deal-breaker” in talks
12/7/12: Oilers C Shawn Horcoff said, "We made progress. It's not like we're farther apart. ... The worst thing would be to take time off and not meet."
12/10/12: The NHL cancels another 104 regular season games, bringing the total number wiped away by the lockout to 526, which represents nearly 43% of the season.
12/14/12: The NHL files a class-action complaint asking a federal court in N.Y. to make a declaration on the legality of the lockout. This is a pre-emptive legal maneuver as the union moves towards dissolving through disclaimer of interest. The league also files a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the union’s vote “constitutes bad-faith bargaining.”
12/16/12: More than 700 members of the NHLPA begin voting on whether to give the union’s exec board the authority to file a disclaimer of interest, a move that would effectively dissolve the union and allow individual players to file antitrust suits against the NHL. The Oilers’ Horcoff said, "We just feel at this point the union has done everything they can for us and we’re not getting anywhere."
12/20/12: The NHL announces the cancellation of the regular season schedule through Jan. 14, totaling 625 regular season games, or 50.8% of the season.
12/21/12: The NHLPA membership completes its voting, choosing to give the exec board the power to file a disclaimer of interest by Jan. 2.
12/27/12: Two days after Christmas, the NHL makes a new CBA proposal to the NHLPA.
12/31/12: On New Year’s Eve, the NHLPA presents a counterproposal.
1/2/13: The NHLPA elects to let pass its deadline to file a disclaimer of interest, as the sides meet for over four hours with the FMCS’ Beckenbaugh until just before 1:00am ET.
1/3/13: The NHL and NHLPA hold smaller group talks over HRR and pensions, but do not formally meet for CBA talks. The NHLPA, citing a “sudden change in tone” on the NHL side, once again begins voting on whether to give the executive board the authority to file a disclaimer of interest. The Capitals’ Chimera said, "I don’t dislike anybody, but I don’t trust Gary Bettman right now and what his motive is." The NHLPA also files a motion in federal court in N.Y. seeking to dismiss the league's suit to have the lockout declared legal.
1/6/13: After 16 hours of negotiations with Beckenbaugh in attendance, the NHL lockout ends at 5:00am ET. Bettman and Donald Fehr hold a joint press conference to announce the tentative deal. The new deal is for ten years, with an opt-out clause for both sides after the eighth year. The players for the duration of the CBA will receive approximately 50% of league revenues, down from 57%. Revenue sharing will spread $200M, with a $60M NHLPA-initiated growth fund included. The salary cap for the '13-14 season will be $64.3M, with a $44M floor. For the first time in league history, there will be term limits on contracts. The longest contract term is set at seven years -- eight if a team is re-signing one of its own players. The sides agree upon a 35% year-over-year salary variance, but no contract year can be lower than 50% of the highest salary year. In addition, players’ pensions move from a defined contribution plan to a defined benefits plan.
Players reaction was consistent: Coyotes RW Shane Doan said, "It was concessionary bargaining right from the beginning. As much as you didn’t want to, we understand that the nature of professional sports has kind of changed with the last couple CBAs starting with football and basketball and obviously hockey.” The Bruins' Ference said, “We did the best we could without destroying the sport entirely and without selling out the kids that haven’t even been drafted yet but will play under this CBA.” Penguins RW Craig Adams: “No player should be under the illusion we got a great deal. But we did very well under the circumstances. There are a lot of things in this deal that aren’t as good for the players as they were. I think the owners got a really good deal.”
1/9/13: The NHL BOG ratifies the tentative CBA, voting unanimously to pass the deal. Bettman offers an apology to the fans for the lockout, saying, "I read the letters, I followed the tweets, I read the blogs. We have a lot of work to do." He added, "I'm sorry. I know an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the last few months, but I owe you an apology nonetheless."
1/12/13: The NHLPA ratifies the new CBA by a 667-12 margin. Later in the day, the league and union sign the Memorandum of Understanding, officially ending the lockout at 10:40pm ET. The NHL releases its revised schedule, with a total of 720 games to be played over 99 days, beginning on Jan. 19 and ending on April 27. The playoffs will begin on April 30, with the Stanley Cup Final wrapping up by June 28 at the latest.
-- Compiled by Jillian Fay, Staff Writer