NHL players’ union gives league a counter-proposal
LOS ANGELES -ReutersThe players’ union on Aug. 14 submitted a counter-proposal to the National Hockey League (NHL) which it said could “stabilize the industry” as the two parties continued talks in a bid to resolve a labor dispute that could threaten the 2012-13 season.
Hoping to avoid another lockout like the one that wiped out the entire 2004-05 NHL season, the union submitted a plan to reduce the players’ percentage of revenues for three years if owners agree to share greater revenue with struggling teams.
“What we are suggesting is that players partner with financially strong owners to help stabilize the industry and assist the less financially strong ownership groups,” NHL Players Association (NHLPA) executive director Donald Fehr told reporters.
Fehr said the players could give up $465 million in revenue if the league continues to grow at an average rate, though that number could rise to as much as $800 million if the growth matches the past two years.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman promised that owners would carefully analyse the proposal.
“It’s clear to me that they didn’t put it together in an hour or two,” Bettman said. “As a result, we’ll need a little time to evaluate it, understand it and we told them that we’d go back to our offices and do that and that we would be prepared to meet again.”
If a new deal is not reached before the current collective bargaining agreement expires on Sept. 15, the NHL could impose a lockout that would threaten regular season play and test the patience of fans.
While both sides have reached common ground on some smaller issues, including player safety, there remains a gap with regards to the economics of a new labour agreement as many teams feel they cannot survive under the current system.
The NHL wants to reduce the players’ share of hockey-related revenues to 46 percent from 57 percent despite enjoying record-breaking revenue of $3.3 billion last season along with an increase in television ratings. The NHL’s regular season is currently scheduled to open on Oct. 11.