March 22, 2009; Los Angeles, CA, USA; MLB players association executive director Donald Fehr at batting practice before World Baseball Classic semifinal between the USA and Japan at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

NHL vs. NHLPA: Collective Bargaining Agreement Discussions Ongoing

The NHL and the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players’ Association) finished a three-day long negotiation in New York yesterday on the looming end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The two parties agreed to continue discussions this upcoming week in Toronto, the NHLPA’s office. The current CBA expires this upcoming September, the 15th to be exact.

May 20, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in attendance before the Los Angeles Kings play against the Phoenix Coyotes in game four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The NHL’s negotiating committee includes the Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Boston Bruins owner and Chairman Jeremy Jacobs, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, along with legal counsel. The NHLPA’s negotiating committee includes Executive Director Donald Fehr, Special Assistant to the Executive Director and former Anaheim Duck Mathieu Schneider, Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, Vancouver Canucks forward Manny Malholtra, Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Westgarth and current free agent Shane Doan, also along with legal counsel. However, many more executives and players have been attending these meetings so far.

The talks started after the NHL and Commissioner Gary Bettman made their first offer to the NHLPA that kind of cut deep into the heart of the NHLPA. The NHL’s proposal would cut the percentage of what the players get from the NHL’s revenue down from 57 percent to 46 percent. The proposal also changes the length of years it takes to become an unrestricted free agent from it’s current length of seven years/27-years-old to 10 years. The proposal also puts a clamp on the recent long-term contract offers we’ve seen in recent years by making a maximum contract length of only five years, this all coming with the recent Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signings and the massive offer sheet for Shea Weber by the Philadelphia Flyers. Finally, entry-level deals lengths’ would also be changed to five years instead of the current three years, there would no longer be salary arbitration or signing bonuses.

This initial offer have many people wondering how the NHL is going to go about the rest of the negotiations after such a stern punch to the gut of the NHLPA. Many of the same people are now predicting a stoppage in play this upcoming season. The owners continue to stand by their initial offer and do call it a “serious” offer. On the otherside, the NHLPA has not made any attempt to counteroffer or submit a new offer. They continue to “look” over the offer and will make a move when they say they are ready. Here’s a couple of statements from Donald Fehr, who has also taken part in MLB and NBA collective bargaining talks, after the three-day long negotiations:

“We’re having a lot of internal discussions, but when we get to the point where we are going to respond formally to the proposal they made by counter proposal or separate proposal, everybody will know. We’re not there.”

“I hope with the issues we talk about we’re able to make some progress. Progress can consist of having the discussions and clearing out the underbrush. It could consist of making or withdrawing proposals on either side. It could consist of trying to focus on certain things. It’s hard to say.”

When it comes to CBA talks, it’s all about the money. Fehr has made sure to express that the players are looking for a bigger piece of the pie, so, the NHLPA will probably loathe the revenue sharing decrease in this offer. The NHLPA will also dislike the part of this offer that would make the players wait 10 years to be an unrestricted free agent. The players would miss out on some big money offers if that were to go into effect. It’s also pretty tough to imagine there being no salary arbitration. Once again, the rookies will most likely be losers of these talks because the current players may just let the entry-level deal point go without really thinking too hard about it. However, the lengthening of the entry-level deals is very greedy because the current system of the three-year entry level deal is already a great way to save money.

The reactions across the hockey world to this offer made by the NHL are either very negative, something along the lines of “goodbye next season,” or impartial, something along the lines of “it’s the FIRST offer.” However, who can be sure how long these are going to go on or how much either side would be willing to budge.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I just have a feeling that we may not have a full season or any season at all this year. I don’t trust the owners to be perfectly honest with you. I feel like they don’t want to do things any other way but their own way. However, the talks will continue this upcoming week, but Fehr says that the talks this week may revolve more around topics such as League alignment and the League’s discipline system. So we shall see.

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Bill Daly Boston Bruins CBA Craig Leipold Donald Fehr Gary Bettman Jeremy Jacobs Kevin Westgarth Los Angeles Kings Manny Malholtra Mathieu Schneider Minnesota Wild MLB NBA NHL NHLPA Philadelphia Flyers Ryan Suter Scott Hartnell Shane Doan Shea Weber Ted Leonsis Vancouver Canucks Washington Capitals Zach Parise

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