NHL Submits a Late-Christmas Proposal to the NHLPA, Moves Closer to the Players >

Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 -

Late Thursday night, the NHL submitted an offer to the Players' Association which will be reviewed by the Union's negotiating committee and executive board at 3:00PM EST today. 

Ready for an Orange & Black Pack first? 

We're about to site some information from Eklund. That's right, the rumor-monger we've all come to take with a grain of salt has received many a kudos from highly credited hockey insiders like Darren Dreger --

Dreger was referring to Eklund's round-the-clock coverage of the latest breaking CBA news which can be found on Eklund's site, HockeyBuzz.com, here

Usually I refrain from siting Eklund's work for his habitual shot-in-the-dark way of "reporting" puck news. But it seems this time his aim hit the target dead-center. 

Eklund's blog discloses the following information (which has been confirmed by a multitude of credible insiders) --

NHL Offer includes...

Player contracts from 5 years to 6 years
Variability from 5% to 10%
Make whole remains at $300m
Plus more

Updated 4:05 am: Hearing another key issue with movement, but can't discuss. 

Updated 10:10 am: The other key issue is the transitional buyout of one player before the start of the 2013-14 season. This is a major concession by the NHL. The idea here that a team can basically get a mulligan and buy out one player without a cap hit adds potentially huge outside-the-cap money into the pot for some of the big-budget teams. I am shocked the NHL would do this because it is something that only a few wealthy teams could even do. About 20 or so teams feel it is unfair for a wealthy teams to be allowed a mulligan, and have opposed the idea until now. 

I would call this a very big move by the NHL.

Ugh. I feel dirty. I still can't get over the fact I'm regurgitating what Eklund's reported. But I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometime or another, right?

Nevermind that, the point is....Eklund's report is correct. The NHL has moved significantly closer to the Union. Following the news, Twitter EXPLODED with the opinions of many NHL insiders. Including this one from ESPN's Pierre LeBrun --

There are a few major changes in this proposal from the NHL's last; 1) That variability  (aka, Variance) Eklund referenced went from 5% to 10%. What does that mean? Well, the Owners are trying to eliminate any and all back-diving contracts negotiated from here on out. Before they wanted no more than a 5% difference between Year 1's terms and the Final Year of the contract. Now that figure has been bumped to 10%. 

2) Players contracts went from a 5-year limit to a 6-year limit, keeping the re-signing limit at 7-years. More years equals more guaranteed money for the Player(s). Again, a major move towards the NHLPA's favor.

3) I'll explain that "transitional buyout" clause with an example; Should the Flyers convince themselves that Ilya Bryzgalov's fat contract was a mistake, they're given the opportunity to buy him out -- prior to the beginning of the 2013-14 League Year -- without the hit reflected on the team's salary cap. Eklund used the term "mulligan" in his blog. That's exactly what it'd be. 

4) The salary cap will be lowered to $60-Million by the beginning of the 2013-14 season. 

The NHL's proposal still consists of a 10-year CBA with a Year 8 escape clause. TSN's Legal Analyst Eric Macramalla says that Donald Fehr's #1 priority is "extended labor peace," and that the length of the CBA is irrelevant. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the NHLPA tries (again) to get that 10-year pushed back to 8-years. 

Considering the little concessions remaining between the two, there's little to no more ground to be gained by either side at this point. The NHL has given more than anyone was expecting, and it's time for the NHLPA to accept a good deal when they see one. 

That's not to say the NHLPA will lay down and accept just because the League's shown some urgency --

STEP BACK FROM THE LEDGE! This was to be expected. Just because a few key terms in the NHL's proposal have been exposed does not mean we've seen the real meat of the offer. Perhaps there is room for tweaking, and it is being kept behind a curtain?

It's not like today (December 28) is some sort of drop-dead date. This is motion when we needed to see motion. Before it was a silent stalemate, and now we're seeing urgency. We're seeing life. We're seeing the NHL holster its pride and get the ball rolling again. 

The NHLPA is in the midst of deciding whether it'll dissolve by filing a disclaimer. They have until January 2 to do so. Until then, they can look at this proposal extensively and counter with any tweaks they see fit. I'm not saying we shouldn't get our hopes up, but I'm also not saying we should. By no means does that create a drop-dead date on January 2. If the Union disclaims beforehand, the Players may still bargain with the proposal. If the Union does not disclaim, then.....well, they don't dissolve and we carry through negotiations like nothing's happened. However, if they don't disclaim and wind up rejecting the terms in the NHL's latest proposal, then they can vote on disclaimer of interest at a later date. But we'll cross that bridge if we get there. 

All games through January 14 have been canceled, which gives us a speculated drop-dead date of around January 10. If a 48-game schedule will be salvaged, we cannot believe another block of games can be canceled without the NHL burning the whole season. So, this current bargaining session is it. This is what it has come down to. 

Late Breaking, 12:45 --

At 12:30 this afternoon, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly released the following statement regarding the NHL's proposal --

"In light of media reports this morning, I can confirm that we delivered to the Union a new, comprehensive proposal for a successor CBA late yesterday afternoon. We are not prepared to discuss the details of our proposal at this time. We are hopeful that once the Union's staff and negotiating committee have had an opportunity to thoroughly review and consider our new proposal, they will share it with the players. We want to be back on the ice as soon as possible."

Late Breaking, 1:26 --

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun has had an "NHL source" provide him with a full list of highlights from the December 27 NHL proposal [Pierre LeBrun]. See that list below --

Ten-Year Agreement (through 2021/22 season); Parties have mutual opt-out right 
after 8 years. 

• 50-50 Revenue Split between Clubs and Players with current HRR Accounting. 

• $300 million in “Make-Whole” payments (outside the system) to compensate Players 
for the reduced value of Player contracts in the early years of the new CBA. 

• No contractual “roll backs” of Player Salaries. 

• Clubs can operate with an effective Upper Limit of $70.2 million in 2012/13; must 
come into compliance with $60 million Upper Limit for the start of the 2013/14 

• Each Club will be entitled to execute up to one “Compliance Buy-Out” prior to the 
2013/14 season pursuant to which payments made to the Player will not be charged 
against the team’s Cap, but will be charged against the Players’ Share. 

• Establishment of a Defined Benefit Pension Plan that will provide maximum 
permissible benefits to Players upon retirement. The Plan will be funded with 
contributions out of Players’ Share and $50 million of the “Make-Whole” payment 
amount of $300 million will be allocated and set aside to fund potential underfunding 
liabilities of the Plan at end of CBA. 

• Rules for Entry Level System, Salary Arbitration and Group 3 Unrestricted Free 
Agency will remain unchanged. 

• Maximum contract length of 6 years subject to a Club’s ability to re-sign its own 
Player for a term of up to 7 years (provided the Player played his last full season 
with the re-signing Club). In addition, year-to-year Salary variability will be limited 
(up or down) to no more than 10% of the value of the first year of a multi-year SPC. 

• Money paid (above a defined threshold) to Players on NHL SPCs in another 
professional league (e.g., the AHL or a European league) will be charged against the 
NHL team’s Cap, but not against the Players’ Share. 

• “Cap Advantage Recapture” formula applicable to existing long-term contracts (in 
excess of 6 years) for years in which Player is retired or fails/refuses to perform 
under his NHL SPC. 

• Ability for Clubs to retain/allocate Salary and Cap Charges in the context of Player 
Trades within specified parameters. 

• More robust League-wide Revenue Sharing Program (increased pool from 
approximately $150 million to $200 million) with creation of Industry Growth Fund to 
improve the long-term revenue generating potential of the League and low-grossing 
Clubs. Formation of active Revenue Sharing Oversight Committee on which NHLPA 
will participate. 

• New Player Discipline procedures and protocol incorporating Player appeal rights to 
a neutral third-party arbitrator for both on-ice and off-ice discipline. 

• Flexibility-related adjustments to Payroll Range System, including (in addition to 
Salary/Cap Charge allocation in Player trades):
1. Lower Limit obligation without performance bonuses;
2. Elimination of Re-Entry Waivers;
3. Creation of Salary Cap exceptions for emergency roster situations/goaltender 
4. Waiver exemptions for mid-season signings of Club’s own European Players;
5. Availability of Performance Bonus Cushion in every year of the CBA;
6. Creation of “interview period” for Unrestricted Free Agents.

• Various Player contract enhancements and protections, including:
1. Early activation of “No Move/No Trade” clauses in contract extensions;
2. Additional restrictions on Club “buy-out” rights of Player contracts;
3. Modified Waiver obligations for Clubs / enhanced Waiver opportunities for 
4. Standardization of reimbursements and benefits related to Player 
assignments (trades, loans, recalls, etc.);
5. Continued increases in League Minimum Salary and Per Diem;
6. Playoff Pool increased from $6.5 million to $13 million in Year 1; additional 
regular increases over the balance of the CBA term;
7. All minor league salary paid in USD;
8. Liberalized “Cap treatment” standards for Club initiatives benefitting Players, 
such as “parent-son” road trips; milestone awards/gifts; parental travel and 
lodging for attendance at EL Player games, Club provision of various types of 
“professional development”-type services for Players, etc.

• Player “Working Condition” improvements, including:
1. Ice-time restrictions and mandatory “days off” requirements during Training 
2. Club practice schedule and “days off” requirements during the Regular 
3. Extended “Christmas Break” (i.e., December 24-26 “days off” for all 
4. Mandatory facility standards for Visiting Teams relating to training/medical 
supplies, workout equipment and dressing room standards/supplies;
5. Implementation of “best practices” and continued League initiatives to ensure 
optimal ice conditions;
6. Tighter restrictions/regulation of Club off-season conditioning requirements 
and Club Conditioning Camp;
7. Establishment of annual Orientation and Development Program for 
Rookies/First Year Players.

• New CBA Article devoted exclusively to Player Health and Safety measures and 
covering such matters as:
1. The establishment of a Joint NHL/NHLPA Health and Safety Committee with 
equal representation from the NHL and the NHLPA;
2. The establishment of “Standard of Care” and “Professional Duty” obligations 
owing from team health care professionals to Players;
3. The establishment of minimum requirements for “health management” staffing 
and resources;
4. The establishment of standards for the creation, updating and maintenance of 
Electronic Medical Records for Players;
5. Improvements to Second Medical Opinion procedures and protocol and 
Fitness to Play determinations;
6. Implementation of additional steps and safeguards to monitor the use (and 
possible misuse) of prescription medication by Players.
7. Increased flexibility for Players for rehabilitation of injuries during the offseason.

• Elimination of NHLPA “Guarantee” of Escrow shortfall and increased NHLPA 
discretion to determine in-season Escrow Rates. 

• Completion of expert third-party review of SABH Program and commitment to make 
recommended modifications and improvements, as appropriate. 

• Improvements to existing Performance Enhancing Substances Program, including:
1. Expansion of Prohibited Substances List to include illegal stimulants;
2. The establishment of testing protocol for HGH;
3. Varied forms and times of testing throughout the year;
4. The establishment of protocol for “reasonable cause testing”;
5. Incorporation of agreed-upon appeal procedures from “positive” test results;
6. Commitment to work with the AHL and the PHPA to expand Program to cover 
AHL Players.

• Joint (NHL/NHLPA) Committees:
1. Formation of new “Owner-Player Relations Committee,” with broad-based 
participation from Owners and Players intended to foster and establish better 
understanding and stronger working relationships.
2. Formation of new “Revenue Sharing Oversight Committee” to oversee the 
operation of the Revenue Sharing System.
3. Formation of new “Joint Health and Safety Committee” to make 
recommendations to the NHL and the NHLPA on Player Health and Safety 
4. Formation of new “NHL/NHLPA Equipment Working Group” to study, 
promulgate and enforce minimum standards for protective equipment utilized 
by NHL Players.
5. Refined and enhanced role for “Player/Club Competition Committee” (CBA 
Article 22) with greater consultation and interaction with the NHL General 
Managers’ Committee.
6. The “NHL/NHLPA Joint Owner-Player Broadcasting/Marketing Committee” 
(CBA Article 32) will be reconstituted to consult and establish policy on 
League broadcasting and marketing matters, as well as other League 
business functions and initiatives.
7. The NHL/NHLPA International Committee (CBA Article 24) will be charged 
with jointly identifying, creating, exploiting and managing new international 
business opportunities involving NHL Players, in which the NHL and NHLPA 
will participate as 50-50 partners. The NHL/NHLPA International Committee 
shall also have an advisory role in planning and executing NHL events 
conducted outside of North America.

• Players provided access to NHL.com platform for their individual Player websites 
and social media. 

• Implementation of a weighted Draft Lottery in which all non-Playoff teams compete 
for opportunity to choose first overall in the annual Draft. 

• Exclusive negotiating rights window for European Draftees extended to one period 
covering four years, instead of two periods covering two years each. 

• Modification to “Four-Recall Rule” to remove limitation on “number of transactions” 
following the Trade Deadline; replace with limitations on the total number of Recalls 
on roster at any one time after the Trade Deadline. 

• Updated and improved Grievance Arbitration process and procedure. 

• Enhanced access to Game Tickets for Visiting Team Players and NHLPA. 

• NHLPA representatives to be provided reasonable access to Club facilities and 
Players at reasonable times.

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