Lightning's B.J. Crombeen said league proposal a "positive step" but too early to tell if deal coming
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen was blunt when assessing the proposal made by the league that was said to offer a 50-50 split with the players on hockey related revenues.
"We feel that there are some good things in what they propose," said Crombeen, a member of the Players' Association negotiating committee, "but there are also something that don't work at all and don't make a whole lot of sense."
"So, yes, this is a positive step to get the proposal from them," he added. "Yes, it's a good thing to have them show they're going to start seriously negotiating. But there's a lot of work to be done if there is going to be a fair deal reached here in the short term."
There was plenty of optimism when the league made its offer that it would provide a jump start to negotiations; and it likely will be as Crombeen said the union will take probably 24 hours to study the proposal and then make a counter-proposal by perhaps Thursday. But Crombeen said it is too early to tell if a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached in the next 10 or so days so the season could open by Nov. 2.
"When the players, the fans and media hear that 50-50 number, it's easy to think, 'Let's get 'er done. Let's get going,' " Crombeen said. "But I think there is a lot more than meets the eye with the proposal. There are a lot of variables."
Crombeen said players are worried about how salaries will be affected seeing as they would go from 57 percent of league revenues to 50 percent; a large escrow payment is predicted. There also are concerns about the league's proposal to cap contract lengths at five years and to allow unrestricted free agency after eight pro years or when a player turns 28. In the previous CBA, unrestricted free agency came after seven years or at age 27. There also are still questions about exactly what defines hockey related revenue and if salaries for players demoted to the minors would be counted against the salary cap.
"There's definitely some optimism but it's with a little bit of caution," Crombeen said. "They came off where they were a little bit but what they had before wasn't realistic. That's kind of the way we're looking at it, that hopefully this is the start for them of some serious negotiations. We're going to try to see where they're coming from with their proposal and make sense of it and hopefully get the ball moving and get closer to a deal."