With the NHL lockout approaching the two-month mark, the owners and the players union have been meeting in an effort to reach a deal. The discussion regarding the “make whole” provision could make or break the prospect of a new collective bargaining agreement being reached anytime soon.
The two sides met for a collective 13 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday and have reconvened again Thursday. The hot topic now is the guarantee that owners will honor existing contracts—the “make whole” provision.
After the 13 hours of meetings, the NHL and NHL Players Association covered revenue sharing extensively. They touched on it briefly Wednesday, but “make whole” will dominate the discussion Thursday.
Not to downplay any of the other issues the two sides have covered, but the “make whole” provision has the potential to either end the lockout soon or ensure that it goes on into 2013. CSN’s Chuck Gormley and TSN's Pierre LeBrun firmly believe this:
Today is the biggest day of the NHL season. Owners honoring contracts a deal maker or deal breaker.— Chuck Gormley (@ChuckGormleyCSN) November 8, 2012
League's response to NHLPA on Make Whole today perhaps biggest moment yet in this thing... Make or break— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) November 8, 2012
Owners honors existing contracts is one of the most sensitive and substantial issues for the players. The NHLPA went in to Thursday’s meeting already having made a proposal regarding the “make whole” provision. Further progress pertaining to the CBA will depend almost solely on how the NHL reacts to the proposal.
Chris Johnston, lead hockey writer for The Canadian Press, had this to say about the NHLPA's proposed concept.
I'm told the NHLPA made offers yesterday on both revenue sharing and players' share/make whole. They expect a response from NHL today.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 8, 2012
The light at the end of the tunnel could be the league’s promise to uphold current contracts. At the very least, it would be a clear sign of traction in the negotiations.
But things could go either way. The fact that both sides are keeping quiet about the nature of the meetings says that both sides believe that the negotiations can still sway either way.
Things will be much clearer by the end of Thursday’s meeting. Once the two sides are able to sit down and get to the root of one of the union’s most vital issues, it will be much easier to gauge how much longer the lockout could last.
There’s more to this lockout and the CBA negotiations than just the “whole” provision. That said, it is an issue high on the priority list for the NHLPA. Because of that, the discussion regarding it could make or break CBA talks.