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Reports: NHL's first labor offer to players asks for several big concessions

The league has made its first offer in negotiations with the players union for a new collective bargaining agreement, and it wants major concessions in revenue sharing and contract structures, media outlets reported Saturday.

The league wants to reduce the players' share of hockey-related revenue from 57 percent to 46 percent and recalculate the definition of hockey-related revenue so the pot from which the owners and players share would be drastically reduced, the reports said.

That issue has been expected to be significant since revenue sharing became a focal point in last year's labor squabbles in the NFL and NBA.

The NHL's offer also proposes the elimination of signing bonuses and putting a five-year limit on contract lengths, with the salary being the same each year, the reports said.

The current agreement, which expires Sept. 15, does not have a restriction on contract lengths. It has a few restrictions on signing bonuses and on front-loading deals to reduce salary cap hits on long-term deals.

Also under the league's proposal, players must have 10 years in the league before they can become unrestricted free agents, regardless of their age. Players currently are eligible to become unrestricted free agents either at the age of 27 or after seven accrued seasons in the league.

The proposal would eliminate salary arbitration and extend entry-level contracts from three years to five.

Neither the league nor the players association publicly acknowledged the proposal. The sides are scheduled to resume negotiations Wednesday in New York.

The sides have met several times since the season ended in June, and union executive director Donald Fehr told the Toronto Star on Tuesday that they have exchanged positions on major issues such as revenue sharing, team salary floors, free agency and conference alignment.

The last time the sides had to craft a new deal, owners locked out the players in 2004, and it cost the league the 2004-05 season. The agreement that came out of that deal put in place a salary cap for the first time, and the players agreed to a 24 percent rollback in salaries.

Fehr said after Friday's bargaining sessions that salary rollbacks won't happen on his watch.

The league announced it had record revenue of $3.3 billion this year.

Training camps open in September. The regular season is scheduled to begin Oct. 11. Fehr said last month that the players would be willing to start the season without a deal if negotiations were ongoing.

blue jackets: The team is still trying to trade captain Rick Nash — general manager Scott Howson said last week he wants NHL-ready forwards in exchange — but it also has talked to the Kings about backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Bernier has asked to be traded in the wake of No. 1 Jonathan Quick, this year's playoff MVP, signing a 10-year deal.

Reports: NHL's first labor offer to players asks for several big concessions 07/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 14, 2012 9:53pm]
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