Drawing comparisons to the salary cap models of the NBA and NFL, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear again on Thursday that unless players are willing to take a reduction in salaries there will be a lockout at midnight on Saturday.
Given the fact the leagues players have stood firm on their stance of not participating in salary rollbacks, the NHL appears headed for its second work stoppage in eight years.
Listen, nobody wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do, OK? Bettman told reporters after receiving unanimous support in a two-hour meeting with the NHLs Board of Governors.
This is what I do. This is what my life is about in terms of how I spend most of my waking hours. This is very hard and I feel terrible about it.
Saying the NHL can not afford a system in which players receive 57 percent of the leagues 3.3 billion in hockey-related revenues, Bettman said he is willing to meet NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr anytime, any place to hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
But it wont come until the players agree to a reduction in salaries.
In the NFLs 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement, the players share of revenue starts at 47 percent and increases to 48.5 percent in the final year of 2021. In the NBAs CBA, also 10 years, the players share begins at 49 percent and increases to 51 percent in 2021.
The players in those two other leagues recognized that it was not inappropriate or unfair to reduce what they were getting, Bettman said. And thats in a challenging and recent economic climate.
In his most recent six-year proposal, Bettman called for the players share of revenue to decrease from its current 57 percent to 49 percent this season and gradually decreasing to 47 percent in the final year.
The players most recent proposal based on a 7.1 percent annual growth in revenue -- calls for gradual increases to their share of revenue, from 2 percent next season, to 4 percent the following year and 6 percent in 2014-15.
Even a brief lockout will cost players more than what were proposing, Bettman countered.
So what happens next?
On Sunday players will begin heading back to their respective homes. Some will head to Europe to play in professional leagues in Russia, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Germany.
As for Bettman, he says his latest offer is not a take-it-or-leave-it proposal but made it clear the next offer may not be as sweet as the last.
I said the same offer would not be on the table because of the amount of damage that would take place with lockout, Bettman said.
We made the last offer. We havent gotten a formal response to our proposal and Im hoping we get one that recognizes we made yet another meaningful move.