NHL Lockout: What Will the Next NHL CBA Offer Look Like?

Nicholas GossCorrespondent INovember 5, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at the Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City. Joining him from left to right is Ruslan Fedotenko, Henrik Lundqvist, Zdeno Chara and Sidney Crosby.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We have gone almost three weeks without a new CBA proposal made by the NHL or NHLPA in the current NHL lockout.

However, a little bit of optimism was created over the last few days when we learned that the two sides plan to get back to the bargaining table.

The two sides could meet as early as Tuesday, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman likely involved in #NHL and #NHLPA meeting that's tentatively set for Tuesday. Good chance they meet Wed., too

— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) November 5, 2012

Darren Dreger of TSN has some more information to consider:

IF negotiations progress, a quick agreement is a longshot. Could take 1 week minimum to reach a deal.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 5, 2012

The next offer, whether it's made by the league or the players, will show us just how far apart they are on the important issues at a very critical point in this labor dispute. If no progress is made this week, the 2012-13 season will be in real danger.

December 1 has been a popular start date for people who have predicted when the 2012-13 regular season will begin, but for this scenario to become a reality, a deal would have to be reached in the next 2-3 weeks.

This means that the next offer must include concessions from both sides, because without compromise, no deal will get done.

Here is my take on what part of the next CBA offer will look like.

  • Revenue Sharing: Instead of helping small-market teams by reducing player salaries, revenue sharing will help struggling franchises, because large-market teams will contribute more money to this program.
  • Existing Contracts: Players receive the full value of their existing contracts through the league's "make whole" provision, and the money to pay for this will come out of the owners' share of HRR.
  • HRR: The split of hockey-related revenues (HRR) will be 50-50 in the first year (and every year after) because the players will not lose any money from their present deals.
  • Contract Term Limits: 8 years
  • No changes to salary arbitration from the last agreement.
  • Changes are made to the salary-cap floor, because small-market teams that are already struggling financially shouldn't be hurt even more by being forced to spend money that they don't have.
  • All appeals of player suspensions are handled by a neutral party.
  • A player's salary is his salary-cap hit, which will help avoid cap-circumventing contracts moving forward.

As you can see, I believe an offer in which small-market teams get help through better revenue sharing, rich teams benefit through an immediate 50-50 split in HRR and players don't lose any money off their existing contracts is a proposal that can lead to real progress.

Unless the owners commit to paying 100 percent of existing player contracts, it's hard to imagine the two sides making any real progress.

We could learn more about the owners' new stance on their "make whole" provision later this week, which will tell us a lot about the state of the current negotiations. The NHLPA will fight as long as possible to protect the contracts that they worked hard to earn.

Playing part of a season is much better than not having a year at all, so if the NHL and its players make an effort to have serious negotiations by having multiple meetings over the next week or so, they might be able to reach an agreement and win back a lot of the fans who are angry with both sides in this lockout.