Lightning's Ryan Malone: Union sticking together helped break CBA stalemate
That negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement were reignited last week by a new league proposal did not come as a complete shock to Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone, who believes a stout Players' Association forced owners to move some of their positions closer to those of the players.
"They probably thought we were going to cave in and they would get everything," Malone said after Wednesday's skate at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. "Now they're like, 'Maybe we can get what we can get and move on.' "
As for perhaps getting a shortened season started by Jan. 19, Malone added, "Even being locked out for this long is nuts, so for them to cancel another season is not even a good business move. They realize that and, hopefully, we can find some common ground and get back on the ice."
No doubt players have given up a lot in these negotiations. They have agreed to go from 57 percent of league revenues to 50 percent. Owners also are getting concessions on contracting rights and how contracts can be structured.
The point is, it could have been worse had the union fractured. As it turned out, after no face-to-face meetings since Dec. 13, the league on Dec. 27, made a new comprehensive proposal that finally gave negotiations some traction.
After saying a five percent variance in yearly compensation within a contract was "a hill we will die on," the NHL moved its position to 10 percent. (Players proposed a 25 percent high-low range.) The NHL also bumped up its proposal on maximum salary lengths to six years from five, though teams would be able to sign their own free agents for up to seven years. Players proposed an eight-year maximum.
"It sounds like they want to play, so we'll see how the next couple of days go," Malone said. "All the negotiations, you think something good is going to happen but nothing has come about. For them to step up and start something, that's obviously positive."
"I'm proud of the Players' Association ... and how guys have stuck together and the solidarity that everyone has shown through this entire process," Tampa Bay's union representative Adam Hall said. "The guys are together on this."
Asked if he believed the league, with its earlier intransigence, had tried to break the union, Hall said, "It's tough to know what they're thinking. That's, maybe, a question for them but I hope not. If that's the case, then I'm proud that the players were able to stick together. ... We want something that is fair. That is why we are where we're at. I think a good deal is where both sides feel like they didn't get everything they want but they are able to compromise and come together. I think that's the situation where we have the faith in the leadership of the Players' Association, and we put the right people in place there to do the job."