The stalled talks between the NHL and the players’ association finally got a jumpstart.
After watching 34 days pass without a new proposal being offered from either side in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made a new offer to the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) that proposes a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue and a full 82-game season starting on Nov. 2.
As talks resumed for the first time since last week between the league and the union, Bettman proudly announced the offer, which is crafted for — if nothing else — a quick response from NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, followed by some serious negotiations either in Toronto or in New York.
“It was done in the spirit of getting a deal done,” Bettman said.
Fehr told reporters that the proposal is for six years. Bettman did not confirm that number.
“Our hope,” he said, “after we review this is that there will be a feeling on the players’ side that this will be a proposal from which we can negotiate and try and reach a conclusion.”
When asked if the new proposal was an improvement over previous offers made by the NHL, Fehr said: “In some respects I think it is. In other respects, I’m not sure. We have to look at it.”
The NHL locked out its players on Sept. 15, and the regular season was scheduled to begin last Thursday. A Nov. 2 start date would extend the season well into June, but would preserve some of the marquee events, such as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic in Michigan.
“I don’t want to get into the substance, other than to say we believe that this was a fair offer for a long-term deal, and it’s one that we hope gets a positive reaction,” Bettman said. “We have about nine or 10 days to get this all put to bed, signed, sealed and delivered, in order for this offer to be effective and for us to move forward.”
Bettman said the long-term deal takes steps to guarantee the players will get full value from their existing deals. Each team would have one additional game every five weeks to get a full season in.
“Gary indicated to me and I assume he indicated to you that they would like to get a full 82-game season in,” Fehr said. “We, of course, share that view and would like to get a full 82-game season in, but we are not in a position to make any comments about it beyond that at this point.”