It's been an active day for most NHL fans, with their range of emotions probably resembling that of a roller coaster. On Tuesday, the NHLPA gave their first proposal of a new CBA to the NHL owners. The proposal was outside the box, made a point to show that the players were willing to make sacrifices (by lowing their share of the revenue) and putting forth an idea that growing the game should be the biggest driving point of the new CBA. Emotions on Tuesday were pretty high, with fans starting to garner hope that a deal might be on the horizon.
Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon. Gary Bettman told the media after meeting with the NHLPA that the owners "understood" the deal presented before them but didn't agree with a lot of it. He even went on to say that the two sides "look at the world differently." New emotions were despair, gloom and doom.
Join me after the jump for more.
Here's what we know: The two sides won't officially meet again until Wednesday. That's right, a week from now. With the September 15th deadline looming, and time being in remarkably short supply, this seems like an odd move from both sides. To add to that point, the NHLPA hasn't even fully given their proposal yet, not even touching on the subjects of contract lengths, length of service to become a UFA and ECL lengths.
Regardless, the NHLPA is absolutely dominating the public relations side of this battle. Fehr has done a brilliant job making the players seem like the only side trying to get a fair deal done. Look at the facts:
- The NHL gives their initial offer -- an offer so lopsided that Fehr completely ignored it when the NHLPA created their counterproposal. The deal drove towards the player's pockets and gave the owners a 57% share of the pie.
- The NHLPA counters by dropping their own percentage of the HRR and gives the NHL a chance to grow the game and make some money to help the lesser teams. On top of that, the NHLPA's offer was driven towards helping the lower level teams get a leg up to help grow the league as a whole.
Which side looks better after reading that?
Here's the other thing: This part of the game probably matters a lot more to the fans than it does to the two negotiating sides. I'm sure it was part of Fehr's plan to get the media on his side, and with his proposal and the way he's handed the media he's done just that.
But Bettman doesn't seem rattled at all.
That doesn't mean, however, the NHLPA's offer didn't do some damage that does matter. As I said before, the 2004 lockout was aided by the owners breaking down the union. They split the players and use that to their advantage to get a favorable deal.
The NHLPA offer was devised to do the same thing. It offered potentially major relief to some of the smaller market teams, while forcing the bigger market teams to have to dig into their pockets. On the surface it looks like the plan failed, but we don't know the shockwaves the deal might have sent through the owners. We'll get a better idea when the owners give their counterproposal.
For now, the NHLPA is winning the political battle. But neither side seems to have a leg up in the actual negotiations, which is a problem.
Fehr left the media with a final quote, basically saying the players gave a lot the last time and they weren't willing to do it again.
Let's hope both sides figure it out.