When the NHL labor dispute began, everyone knew that the initial offer from the owners to the players would be insulting. In fact, many called the offer laughable. So after that, the league and its’ owners, as well as commissioner Gary Bettman, fully expected the NHLPA to make an equally insulting counter-offer back to the owners.
They were wrong.
TSN’s Aaron Ward tweeted that Bettman was much more pleased with the players’ offer than originally expected.
“… Sense is the NHL believes today’s proposal from the NHLPA was better than what was expected … First impression of NHLPA proposal was that it was not a ‘counter attack’ in response to the League’s July 13th proposal … Second impression was that it possessed economic elements that were ‘interesting’ to the League …”
Now I feel compelled to warn you that this was still just an initial offer. While it may have been much better than the owners expected, and also extremely more fair than what the owners offered to the players, it is not going to broker a new deal after just this offer. It is still a full on negotiation process, and while this makes the players look very good, it will not be accepted by the owners without them going through it with a fine toothed comb and making some alterations that will clearly benefit them.
But this is a start. A good start. A much better start than when the owners submitted their first offer to the players.
The players are willing to work with some sort of reformed salary cap. They know it is important. Nobody wants to see happen what takes place in Major League Baseball, where the rich get richer, and the rest of the league trades them all of their top players who they can no longer afford.
It is not what any fan of the game wants.
Well, not fans of those teams who are, should we say, less fortunate than others in financial terms. It does not benefit the game one iota.
But the fact that the players are not asking owners to eliminate the salary cap entirely is a huge step in the right direction. While we still have no idea when we will see NHL hockey again, this is a positive sign that we hopefully will not lose another full season, like what happened in 2004-2005. Everyone needs to work desperately to avoid that, as many teams simply would not be able to survive.
So while the players agree to smaller revenues for themselves and the owners work to come up with a salary cap number that works best for them, the important thing is that both sides are talking. The current collective bargaining agreement does not expire for another month. The 2012-2013 regular season is slated to begin on October 11. Negotiations have gone on for seven weeks now, and both sides seem to be sensing an urgency.
Hopefully, it will be enough of an urgency to broker a new deal that everyone can accept within the next few weeks.