GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 07: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (R) speaks at a press conference to discuss the potential sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Greg Jamison (L), former CEO of the San Jose Sharks, before the start of Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Nashville Predators during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on May 7, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
After a day of slight optimism, it seems as if we are right back to square one with labor negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA. Gary Bettman addressed the media following a three hour long meeting up in Toronto, and stated there is still a noticeable gap between where both of the sides stand. Bettman didn't go into much detail as to what the differences were, but did share some insight on similar agreements within the sports world they would like to model their CBA after.
According to reports from yesterday's proposal by the NHLPA, the agreement would have the players making 54% of the hockey-related revenue over the next three seasons. Meanwhile, the NHL's initial proposal had the players making 43% of the HRR, in addition to rolling back their salaries by a total of 24%. Bettman mentioned that both sides "view the world differently," and this is very evident. But who is to blame here?
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As stated before, Bettman referenced the CBA agreements between the NFL and NBA, which share just about a 50/50 split of revenues between owners and players. This is just one of the many issues that doesn't make sense among all of this mess. The owners reference other CBA agreements that contain an even split of revenues, yet their initial proposal had a 43/57 split in favor of themselves, in addition to a rollback of player salaries.
If they truly wanted an even split, why didn't they just propose that in the first place? There is a considerable difference between 43% and 50% in terms of revenue sharing, and the NHL's initial proposal easily takes the brunt of the blame for this one. Since we are in the Twitter/Facebook age, as Joe stated, the NHLPA is clearly winning this public relations battle by a longshot.
One thing I will side with the NHL on, though, is that the NHLPA failed to touch the current structure of contracts, which was also a glaring issue heading into these negotiations. Owners would still be allowed to front-load contracts and hand out ridiculous terms that run the length of a player's entire career. Bettman did state in his meeting with the media that he was thoroughly "disappointed" that the NHLPA failed to touch upon that issue. I actually have to agree with him on this one.
The NHL and NHLPA will continue to have meetings through the rest of the week, but won't officially meet with Fehr and Bettman until next Wednesday. The current collective bargaining agreement officially expires in exactly a month from today and while there is still slight optimism, some panic is starting to set in.