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NHL Lockout: What’s with all the pessimism?

Written on November 15, 2012 at 12:13, by HTTN

Everyone’s angry.

These are Pierre LeBrun’s words, not mine.

He’s referring to the fact the NHL’s CBA negotiations have come to a halt on contract issues, and both sides are digging in their heels once again. LeBrun is not optimistic, and neither is Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) of the Canadian Press, who wrote this on Thursday morning:

In short, fans, media, and even people on both sides of the CBA argument are losing faith an agreement will be reached.

The problem with the pessimists is they’re basing their feelings on how long the lockout has drawn on, rather than the nuts and bolts of the CBA negotiations. For if you look at the negotiations, you can see that incredible progress has been made.

On revenue sharing: the two sides have gone from miles apart (owners originally offered players 43% NHL revenues) to essentially agreeing to 50-50.

Note added later: While the NHLPA was close to 50-50 in dollar value, they still wanted a guaranteed dollar amount rather than a percentage of revenues up until their proposal on Nov. 21. Really, they were further away from 50-50 than I initially understood.

On honoring current player contracts: The owners have come a long way upping their offer from nothing to $211 million over the next two years.

On revenue sharing: The owners have upped their revenue sharing proposal to $200 million, which isn’t too far from the $260 million requested by the players.

Looking at the above issues, the sides have come a long long way. What’s left? The minor (actually quite major) issue of systemic contract issues.

The players want things to stay the same, while the owners… here’s what they’ve requested (from Elliotte Friedman):

Contracts no longer than five years; unrestricted free agency moved back to age 28 or eight years of service (meaning it could still happen as young as 26); salary arbitration eligibility moved back from four seasons to five; a maximum salary change of five per cent from year-to-year.

These are strong demands from the owners, and because there are no talks planned, people think there’s no hope. But with all the progress that’s already occurred — all of it without any outside mediation — there’s no reason to think they can’t find a middle ground on contract issues as well.