Friday, December 28, 2012

A NEW NHL DEAL?!?!?! ... Well, we'll see

Having already trashed approximately half the scheduled season and having gained exactly nothing - because they all underestimated Donald Fehr's ability to render everyone around him empty and emotionless - the NHL's owners today backed down to a point of where they have given an ultra, final, last absolutely end-all offer (unlike only the final, last absolutely end-all offer given the last time they backed off a little).
Does it absolutely mean "THE SEASON WILL BE SAVED!!!!?"
Of course not. But it does seem enough owners have finally panicked to the point of telling league commissioner Gary Bettman - who will be lucky to hang onto his job after this fiasco - to do whatever he can to wake Fehr up long enough to strike a deal. If that happens, they'll likely end up with a 48-game season crowded into a period of some three months, with the start date of Jan. 19. It will be about the same length of games and time that took place in 1995, which was exciting to watch despite all the groin pulls for the players for the first month or so.
Anyway, the Stanley Cup finals would be done in time for an NHL draft, which will be jammed in near the end of June, with the free agency period beginning July 10 instead of the usual July 1.
This, of course, would all be based on the players agreeing to such things. Which would mean Fehr would have to stay awake long enough to nod his assent.
The players went over the NHL proposal via a conference call last night and it likely will lead to a Sunday negotiating session which may - or may not - reveal real progress.
Anyway, various sources have supplied all the details of the latest NHL proposal, and I'll highlight just a few points from it... 
Under the new proposal, a new CBA would be for 10 years, though the two sides would have mutual rights to re-open the agreement after eight years (in 2020).
The revenue split would be 50-50. The "make whole" provision, which has caused a lot of angst on the players' side, would be settled at a $300 million figure that the NHL would pay out to settle current player contracts.
No rollbacks of salaries for the players; the payroll cap for each team would be a pro-rated $70.2 million this season; about $10 million less the next season.
No changes in entry level contract, salary arbitration and Group 3 free agency rules ... which is a big collective concession by the owners.
The maximum contract length for players would be six years; but if a club is re-signing its own player it could go to seven.
There are other provisions. In fact, this proposal goes on and on and on. But these are the main points that have to be countered by the NHLPA, and believe me, this union, with this union leader, will want a counterproposal.
But at least both sides, again, are finally interested in trying to end this ludicrous stalemate.
One other thing: A clause in this mess would enable teams to amnesty one contract by the start of the 2013-2014 season, to keep under what then will be $60 million cap.
Which would mean this coming, shortened season would be Ilya Bryzgalov's last chance to prove himself here. Otherwise, he'll be gone.