The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) expires on September 15.
If the two sides do not reach an agreement by the mid-September deadline, then the season could be in jeopardy of being delayed or even cancelled entirely. It has happened before.
In 2004, the NHL and NHLPA could not reach an agreement on a new CBA and the entire 2004-2005 season was cancelled.
The league suffered from missing the season and it is in danger of suffering through it again, because much of the CBA related news implies that another lockout is a very realistic possibility, especially after NHL commisioner Gary Bettman said that he is prepared for a lockout if no agreement is reached by September 15.
But, an important step was made on Tuesday.
The NHLPA made its first proposal to the league owners. It will serve as a counter proposal to the owners' original first proposal. Although NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr describes the proposal as an "alternative view," rather than a counter proposal.
First, here are the details of the NHL owner's proposal:
- The share of the revenue players receive will be reduced from 57 to 46 percent.
- A player has to be in the league for 10 years before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
- Long-term deals can only be a maximum of five years.
- Entry-level contracts will be for five years instead of the current three.
- The new CBA will last for three years, then will revert back to the current CBA terms starting in the fourth year.
- The share of the revenue players receive will decrease from 57 percent under the new terms until the fourth year, when the current CBA terms reset. .
- There will be no changes to existing player contracts.
- Players will accept reduced revenues to help weaker teams compete.
- There will still be a slalry cap system.
After labor talks concluded for the day, Fehr told reporters that he believed the players' proposal "can produce a stable industry that can give us a chance to move beyond the recurring labor strife that has plagued the NHL the last two decades."
The NHL has had a recurring problem of being stuck in CBA negotiations every five or six years. A change to help prevent this would certainly be welcomed.
Comissioner Gary Bettman said the owners will consider the proposal by the players.
"It's clear to me that they didn't put it together in an hour or two, and as a result we're going to need to take a little bit of time to evaluate it, understand it" explained Bettman. "If we're going to respond, we want to respond appropriately."
Bettman did offer words that inspire hope that progress will be made quickly as well.
"Our hope is we can take care of business in the next month. That's our goal."
Fehr also expressed his urgency in the labor talks, telling reporters that "We want to make a deal."
Quick Note: Scott Hartnell is the Flyers' player representative in the CBA negotiations. Hartnell has been active in the labor discussions, but was not at the meeting on Tuesday. He was in Minnesota for his #Hartnelldown Hockey Camp.