Bettman, NHL Make New Offer In Hope Of Full Season
TORONTO -- The stalled talks between the NHL and the players' association finally got a jumpstart.
After watching 34 days pass without a new proposal being offered from either side in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, Commissioner Gary Bettman made a new offer to the NHLPA that proposes a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue and a full 82-game season starting Nov. 2.
As talks resumed for the first time since last week between the league and the union, Bettman proudly announced the offer, which is crafted for -- if nothing else -- a quick response from the head of the players' association, Donald Fehr, followed by some serious negotiations either here or in New York.
"It was done," Bettman said, "in the spirit of getting a deal done."
Fehr told reporters that the proposal is for six years. Bettman did not confirm that number.
"Our hope," he said, "after we review this is that there will be a feeling on the players' side that this will be a proposal from which we can negotiate and try and reach a conclusion."
The NHL locked out its players on Sept. 15, and the regular season was scheduled to begin on Oct. 11. A Nov. 2 start date would extend the season well into June, but would preserve some of the marquee events, such as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic in Michigan.
Bettman said the long-term deal takes steps to guarantee the players will get full value from their existing deals. And in order to pull off the logistics of the schedule, each team would have one additional game every five weeks in order to get a full season in.
All teams would also hold a makeshift training camp, lasting approximately one week. Veteran players who signed contracts overseas would need to scramble back to their team headquarters, as will the younger players who are working in the minor leagues, like the AHL, this month.
It is clearly the best offer -- or counteroffer, for that matter -- that has been made in the months of negotiations since last season ended in June. And the proposal is now in the hands of Fehr and his team of executives, who acknowledged that the proposal was stronger than the previous ones the union had received.
This is the third lockout under Bettman's watch, but unlike the previous two, dialogue has remained steady. The two sides last met last week in New York.
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