Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sports

League offering split to try ending lockout

TORONTO — The stalled talks between the NHL and the players' association got a jumpstart Tuesday.

B.J. Crombeen, a Lightning right wing and member of Players' Association negotiating committee, called a new proposal from the NHL "a positive step,'' but said a lot of work remains to end the 31-day lockout.

After 34 days without a new proposal from either side on a collective bargaining deal, commissioner Gary Bettman made a new offer to the NHLPA that proposes a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue and a full 82-game season starting Nov. 2.

The offer is crafted for — if nothing else — a quick response from union head Donald Fehr, followed by some serious negotiations.

"It was done," Bettman said, "in the spirit of getting a deal done."

Fehr said the proposal was for six years. Bettman did not confirm that.

"Our hope," Fehr said, "after we review this is that there will be a feeling on the players' side that this will be a proposal from which we can negotiate and try and reach a conclusion."

The league first asked players to take 43 percent of revenues, well down from the 57 percent negotiated in the last CBA that ended the labor stoppage which wiped out the 2004-05 season.

Crombeen told the Tampa Bay Times: "They came off of where they were a little bit, but what they had before wasn't anything realistic. That's kind of the way we're looking at it that hopefully this is the start for them of some serious negotiations."

Asked if the new proposal was an improvement, Fehr said: "In some respects I think it is. In other respects, I'm not sure. We have to look at it."

The NHL locked players out Sept. 15, and the regular season was scheduled to begin last Thursday. A Nov. 2 start would extend the season well into June, but would preserve some marquee events, such as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic in Michigan.

"When a lot of guys, the players, the fans and media like hears that 50-50 number, it's easy to think let's get her done, let's get going, but I think there is a lot more than meets the eye with the proposal," Crombeen said. "… It definitely met with some optimism that they're willing to talk to us and give us a proposal, and this is kind of the first — I don't want to say somewhat serious but closer to a legitimate offer than the first few. So, yes this is a positive step to get the proposal from them. … 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."

Bettman said: "We believe that this was a fair offer for a long-term deal, and it's one that we hope gets a positive reaction."

If a deal gets done quickly, teams would hold makeshift training camps of about a week. Veterans who signed contracts overseas would need to scramble back, as would younger players working in the minor leagues.

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

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