NHL Lockout: League Gives Fans and Players Hope for a Season

Kevin Goff@@BrgBrigadeKevinContributor IOctober 16, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League speaks to the media at Crowne Plaza Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Hockey fans, you have a reason to be hopeful that we might actually end up with a season.

The best part, this could be a full, 82-game season that would start on November 2nd if the players and the league are able to do something that they haven't been able to do in quite a while, agree.

Today, as reported by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the NHL put forth a significant offer that might get the puck dropped.

This offer is so significant because the league finally showed a willingness to budge on their key issues.

First, and most importantly, the league proposed a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue with the players. 

The players might not like that they do go down from 57 percent to 50 percent, but they can at least agree that splitting things evenly is a fair deal, especially since both the NBA and NFL came to similar agreements.

Other important movements made by the league are as follows:

Salary arbitration is once again included in this agreement, so players will get that back.

Unrestricted free-agency is listed at eight years of service or once the player reaches 28 years of age, which is only a one-year difference from what happened in the previous CBA.

Entry-level contracts are to remain at three years.

Revenue sharing would be around $200 million.

In fact, the only thing the league is standing by strongly is the idea of the max-contract which they still have listed at five years.

All of these concessions made by the league are not only exciting, they are quite surprising since the league seemed determined to get their way once again.

The only questions that remain out of this proposal are as follows:

Will the players agree to the idea of a max-contract or will they let that keep them from playing? 

The players did not seem pleased with the idea in the initial proposal since they basically proposed that no changes be made to current formatting of contracts.

Still, with such movement on the side of the league, the players absolutely have to make some kind of a concession, as the league basically changed their stance on every single other major economic issue.

We also know that the players like a contract that will provide them with certainty, but contracts 13 years and above were foolish. Not only did they kill the free agent market and make it next to impossible to trade certain players if things weren't working out, it provided teams with a way to circumvent the salary cap.

Now the owners will be forced to give reasonable numbers because they won't be able to make a $100 million contract have a $7 million cap. 

This doesn't mean the owners won't look for ways to get around it, but they'll have a much more difficult time.

My prediction is that the league and players settle on six years for a max-contract.

The second question will be what this CBA does to the current contracts. One of the big things keeping the players from agreeing to anything was the league's determination to make the players take another contractual pay cut similar to the 24 percent rollback from the previous lockout.

Players don't want any type of rollback, but if they again look at how surprisingly reasonable the league is, they should be willing to talk about a possibly smaller cut for the sake of getting the season going.

All in all, things are looking up for a season for the first time in a long time.