Will NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman be smiling on Saturday?
The NHLPA made a CBA proposal to the NHL during its meeting in New York City on Wednesday, to which the league responded by making a counter-proposal.
However, the league's offer isn't going to last very long, according to Renaud Lavoie of RDS:
Gary Bettman:"we made a proposal and told the players that it will be off the table on the 15th if their is no deal.— Renaud P Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) September 12, 2012
Update: Wednesday, September 12 at 6:26 p.m. ET
NHLPA leader Donald Fehr spoke to the media for a second time on Wednesday, and judging by his comments regarding the league's counterproposal made on Wednesday, the lockout might as well start now.
Fehr rips into NHL owners, saying there are record revenues and they want another massive reduction in player salaries. #NHL— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) September 12, 2012
Fehr's tone and his numbers lesson suggests there will be no hockey for a long time.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) September 12, 2012
According to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca, Fehr isn't impressed that the owners are willing to give up a bit more money in their latest proposal.
Fehr -- owners are now asking for 17.5 % moving from an extraordinary reduction to a very big reduction#NHLPA— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) September 12, 2012
When you consider how ridiculous the owners' initial offer was, it's not surprising that the two sides are still far apart on financial issues. Gino Reda of TSN tweeted a quote from Fehr explaining the "gap" currently present.
Don Fher- "We are willing to limit future increases, they want us to rollback salaries"- therein lies the enormous gap between the 2 sides— Gino Reda (@GinoRedaTSN) September 12, 2012
A salary rollback is probably a non-starter for the players, and when you consider how much the players lost in the last lockout, it probably should be. Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star tweets that Fehr wants to keep talking with the league, but it's unlikely that the owners will change the proposal that they made Wednesday to be more in the players' favor.
The NHL's offer today was a step in the right direction, but any optimism that was created from it was quickly destroyed by Fehr with his comments Wednesday evening. With three days to close a wide gap, it would be foolish to think a lockout is going to be avoided at this point.
Since neither side is too impressed with the offers made on Wednesday, right now a lockout seems like an absolute certainty. The biggest question at the moment is, how long will it last?
--End of Update--
So we are now in a "take-it-or-leave-it" kind of situation, and don't think that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's scare tactic is going to force the players to cave and accept the league's new offer. Both sides will probably have to make more concessions if an agreement is to be reached before Saturday.
While NHLPA leader Donald Fehr wasn't willing to give many details about Wednesday's proposal, Bettman did address the players' offer, as well as the one presented by the owners (via Katie Strang of ESPN New York):
#CBA NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said PA's proposal was "not really much different" than last. He said league's had "significant movement"— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) September 12, 2012
Significant movement? We've heard that one before. However, the NHL has offered to give the players a bit more money in its latest offer, and the length of the deal has also changed, as Dan Rosen of NHL.com explains:
Bettman said the NHL's proposal was for a 6-year deal and it moved another $250 mil to $300 mil in players direction from NHL's prior offer.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) September 12, 2012
It's good to see the league at least make an attempt to get a deal done by Saturday, and when you look at its stance on HRR (hockey-related revenue) (via Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer), it's clear that the NHL is willing to compromise a bit to reach an agreement:
Bettman says the formula for hockey-related revenue will not change from the last CBA. That's a big concession by the owners. #NHL— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) September 12, 2012
Lavoie explains that the NHL has come a long way in another area as well:
Gary Bettman said that his offer today ask for a reduction of 9% of players salaries. NHL asked for 24% in July.— Renaud P Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) September 12, 2012
Should the players accept the league's latest proposal?
To its credit, the league did make an offer that could lead to something, and now it's the NHLPA's turn to determine if it's something worth working with.
However, if the players' proposal was in fact pretty much unchanged from their last one, don't expect anything but a lockout by the end of the week.
The NHL will hold a press conference on Thursday after the board-of-governors meeting, but Bettman said Wednesday afternoon that they "are not going to announce something dramatic after the board meeting Thursday."