It has been two weeks now since the NHL presented to its players a 50-50 proposal to save an 82-game season.
With that deal no longer on the table, word is spreading that the players’ union is interested in working future negotiations off that Oct. 16 proposal, as long as the owners are willing to be flexible with many of its key points.
In a brief letter to the league’s 700-plus players, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr addressed the current stalemate, stating:
“At every opportunity we have continued to state that we are ready to meet and willing to discuss all open issues, including the owners’ last offer.
“Nonetheless, to date, their group has declined to commit to a meeting unless it can dictate what the agenda is. We will update you further as soon as there is anything more to report.
A TSN.ca report indicated that NHLPA counsel Steve Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly would speak over the phone Tuesday but that no formal talks have been scheduled as the lockout reached Day 45.
With no progress anticipated between the two sides, the league could cancel the 2013 Winter Classic as early as Thursday.
There are a few key issues from the NHL’s Oct. 16 proposal that could be negotiated.
Revenue Sharing. The NHL has proposed an immediate 50-50 split but could settle for a graduated slide that perhaps starts at 53 percent and gets to 50-50 by Year 3 of the agreement.
Salary Cap. The NHL proposed a 2012-13 cap of $59.9 million and a floor of $43.9 million. If both can be raised by $5 million, the players may take the compromise.
Contract Restrictions. The NHL proposed two-year rookie contracts [down from three]; five years to salary arbitration [up from four]; eight years to unrestricted free agency [down from nine] and a five-year maximum length of all contracts [currently no limits].
If movement can be made on those key issues a season can be saved. If not, the Winter Classic won’t be the last game to go.