Within the past few hours, the NHL and NHLPA representatives adjourned what will probably be their last meeting before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. Both sides tabled offers, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman seems to be done negotiating, leaving it all on the table with his last gasp, no lockout proposal:
Bettman has issued a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposal to NHLPA. They have to accept by Saturday or deal is off the table.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) September 12, 2012
So, does that kind of proposal mean we are closer to a deal?
Bettman sees little change from NHLPA's previous proposals
As TSN reports, Bettman submitted a proposal with the help of rich owner (gasp!) Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins. That aside, the owners do appear somewhat flexible over the issue of HRR:
NHL counter-proposal today was six years in length: offered to start players' share at 49 percent and end it at 47 percent at end of term— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) September 12, 2012
That certainly seems like the players would be giving up a little less in comparison to the previous offers, but is it enough? You can almost guarantee this part of the offer will be off the table come Sunday morning. Also, there has been no mention of revenue sharing with this proposal. That doesn't mean it wasn't discussed, but do hint that the owners are still focused on tweaking HRR instead of the financial make-up of the League.
Donald Fehr not sure if proposal will lead to anything
As the Globe and Mail reports, the NHLPA's proposal is "consistent" with their original proposal. Assuming the rumors were true – that some of the owners liked that proposal – will this be enough for all sides to see eye-to-eye? How much more are the players willing to give up, and what are they willing to lose in favor of a lockout? Of course, the players do not want to get fleeced like in 2005-06, but now it's crunch time. Will the new HRR plan be enough to sway the players into a deal, and if so, is this a beneficial plan over a six year period? With the current trend within the industry of ever-increasing revenue, this has the potential to work for both sides. Of course, it's anyone's guess what the industry will look like in six years, the point the players have been trying to convey throughout this process.
The players have been at a disadvantage in labor negotiations for a long time now, and the owners know it. The question on the players' minds needs to be what they will gain from a lockout versus what they will lose. Weigh the pros with the cons.
This weekend will tell us all we need to know.