NHL quickly dismisses players' counteroffers

Posted: October 19, 2012

The NHL Players' Association, trying to save the season, made counteroffers that the league quickly dismissed during an unproductive, one-hour meeting Thursday in Toronto.

"We're not speaking the same language," said Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner.

Bettman said the NHLPA presented three proposals, and he called the meeting "a step backward." He said the proposals were all "variations of their first offer" and "nowhere close" to what the league had offered earlier in the week.

Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA, disagreed.

Fehr said one of the union's proposals was to move to a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue (HRR) - as proposed by the league - as long as the players' contracts were honored in full and no escrow was involved. He also said the owners' proposal would cost the players about 12 percent of their salaries.

NHL players averaged $2.5 million last season; a 12 percent cut would put the average at $2.2 million.

Later Thursday, Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, said Fehr had "misrepresented" the players' offer.

"It's not a 50-50 deal" that the players have proposed, Daly said. "It is, most likely a 56- to 57-percent deal in year one and never gets to 50 percent during the proposed five-year term of the agreement. The proposal contemplates paying the players approximately $650 million outside of the players' share. In effect, the union is proposing to change the accounting rules to be able to say '50-50,' when in reality it is not. The union told us that they had not yet 'run the numbers.' We did."

No new talks have been scheduled.

"I'm thoroughly disappointed," Bettman said.

Said Fehr: "Today is not a good day. It should have been, but it wasn't."

On Tuesday, the NHL had offered the union a 50-50 split on hockey-related revenue, provided an 82-game season starts Nov. 2.

The NHLPA had been asking to get 53 percent to 54 percent of the HRR. The players received 57 percent in the last collective bargaining agreement.

The NHL has estimated it has lost $250 million because the exhibition season and the first two weeks of the regular season were canceled. Some of that money can be recouped if an 82-game season is salvaged.

Bettman said a new CBA has to be signed by Thursday in order to open training camps the next day and start the season Nov. 2.

 Fehr, who was baseball's union leader when part of the season and the 1994 World Series were canceled, said both sides haven't discussed issues beyond the players' share of HRR. A five-year limit on contracts, revenue-sharing to aid teams that are struggling financially, and cap ramifications for long contracts are among the potentially contentious issues that need to be addressed.

Breakaways. Earlier this month, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said some NHL players playing in Russia may not return when the lockout ends. Ritch Winter, the agent for Bryzgalov, said Thursday he would not comment on whether Bryzgalov was one of the players considering staying in Russia. "I am not commenting during the lockout at all. My policy," he said. . . . Niko Hovinen, the Flyers' highly touted 6-foot-7 goalie prospect, injured his collarbone in Trenton's ECHL game Wednesday and did not return. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said Hovinen was day to day and would be reevaluated this weekend.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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