NHL Lockout: Hopes for Saving an 82-Game Season Beginning to Dim?

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NHL Lockout: Hopes for Saving an 82-Game Season Beginning to Dim?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Last week, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that the NHL lockout would come to an end in the not-too-distant future.  That hope dimmed some after the NHLPA decided they were not all that enamored with the NHL’s latest contract offer. Things got even darker after the NHL looked at the NHLPA’s three counteroffers, balled them up and skyhooked them into the trash within minutes of perusing them. Today, it appears that the light may have been turned out.

Early on Tuesday, ESPN.com reported that while no additional talks were scheduled between the two sides, an unnamed source thought that talks would resume at some point this week. Not long after that, TSN.com’s Darren Dreger threw some cold water on that talk via Twitter:

 



In the last offer they made, the NHL made it clear that there is a deadline of October 25 in place if a full 82-game season is to be salvaged. However, if the NHL is waiting for the NHLPA to accept or work from the offer they made to the players last week, they are going to be waiting past October 25.

The sticking points seem to be when the the two sides will get to a 50-50 split in hockey related revenue and how existing contracts will be made whole.

The NHL wants the 50-50 split to go into effect in the first year of a new CBA, while the NHLPA had the HRR gradually dropping to this level in two of their offers. In a third offer, the NHLPA had the split at 50-50 in year one but with wording that would allow the players to recoup all of the money owed to them in existing contracts. 

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The NHL's offer was worded that the "make whole obligation will be operational only through the 2013/14 season." After that, the league feels that HRR will increase enough that the players would receive "full value" on their contracts. It should be noted that the quotes around full value come from the NHL's statement.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman summed things up as such, “I am concerned based on the proposal that was made today that things are not progressing. To the contrary, I view the proposal made by the players' association in many ways a step backward."

The NHLPA got raked over the coals in the last CBA negotiation, agreeing to a salary cap as well as a 24 percent rollback in salaries; they seem less than wiling to acquiesce to the NHL this time around.  As Detroit Red Wings player Niklas Cornwall put things to the Detroit Free Press, "All the concessions that were made last time this went on, the 24 percent, the cap and everything really that happened, and all the record revenues from there on forward—and still it almost feels like they want more, because they can ask for it."

So here we are, days away from the deadline to save a full season with what appears to be hardly a glimmer of hope. The NHL seems to have dug their heels in, while the NHLPA has made it clear that they do not intend to be pushed around so easily this time around.

There’s still time to get things done, but with the current attitudes it seems as if the hope that we will see an 82-game season is seriously dwindling.

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