There has been an avalanche of news on the NHL front in the last few days. Instead of a bunch of small posts with each individual story, here they are in one big blog post. Check back tomorrow for an international hockey update.
For the first time in 3 months, the NHL and NHLPA sat down for negotiations today over the NHL lockout. After 4 hours
of talking, apparently the glacial divide between the two negotiators began to thaw. The NHL has scheduled a news conference for 6:30 PM ET. A transcript of the press conference will be made available on NHLcbanews.com
that more talks between the NHL and NHLPA are scheduled for next week.
So what was being discussed between the NHL and the NHLPA? Rumors have been swirling that the NHLPA would make a significant new proposal to the league. Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan told TSN a few details
about the proposal that would be made today. The changes could add up to 200 million in savings for owners.
- A 10 percent rollback of player salaries across the board.
- Luxury tax of 75 cents on the dollar on payrolls of $40 million.
- A more severe tax for teams that spend over 60 million.
- A lower cap on entry-level salaries that extend for a players first four years instead of three.
- Changes to salary arbitration.
Thanks to Jamie Fitzpatrick of About.com
for more information about the NHLPA proposal. A link to his blog will be added to right faster than the NHLPA can say "salary cap".
[CBA Update] TSN reports
today that the offer was:
- 24 percent rollback of player salaries.
- Reduced qualifying offers and salary arbitration adjustments.
- A tiered payroll tax kicking in at different levels.
- A revenue redistribution plan.
- Joint Player-Club committees to improve the game.
- Adjustments and updates to other CBA provisions.
[CBA Update2] Gary Bettman released a statement following the Dec 9th meeting with NHLPA.
The Union presented us with a proposal today that, clearly, they worked on for a long time. We wanted to give it at least a preliminary review before making any comments.
We will not discuss any of the specifics until we formally respond to the Union. To do otherwise would not be constructive to this process. However, I will acknowledge that one aspect of the proposal is very significant. That element is a recognition by the Union of our economic condition -- but it is a 'one-time' element.
We have said consistently that the focus must be on the overall systemic issues and the long-term needs and health of the game. We will fully review the Union's proposal and respond next Tuesday. It is our present intention to make a counter-proposal.
[CBA Update3] The NHLPA released a 235-page PDF file
of their proposal to the NHL on NHLPA.com.
This proposal demonstrates the players’ sincere desire to get the game back on the ice, and while the concessions on our side are quite significant, we feel that our effort is a meaningful compromise to get a fair deal for both sides. – Trevor Linden
In chart 2 of the NHLPA proposal, the stated direct impact of the 24% salary rollback for the 2004-05 season would equal $269 million for the entire league.
A team-by-team breakdown of the savings is given. The San Jose Sharks are identified with 22 players [more than 90 days of NHL experience] under 2004-05 contract for $32,425,000. The 24% salary rollback would save the Sharks $7,782,000 with a total salary of $24,643,000 for the 04-05 NHL season. An additional amount [$61,000] would be given to San Jose from the revenue redistribution plan.
Exhibit 9 of the NHLPA proposal also details a team-by-team case study of the proposal's effects for each individual team looking at the next two seasons.
Taking into account the 11 Group 2 free agents the San Jose Sharks would have to sign for the 2005-06 season, the NHLPA predicts the rollback savings would be $4.3 million for the 10 players under contract, and $3.4 million for the 11 group 2 free agents.
In another positive development for the league, Detroit Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan convened a meeting of players, owners, GMs and assorted "honchos" to examine the state of the game. If anything positive can come out of the NHL lockout, maybe the game can be changed for the better.
In attendance according to TSN
: current and former GM's: Bob Gainey and Brian Burke; current and former NHL players: Mats Sundin, Alexander Mogilny, Curtis Joseph, Jim McKenzie, Al MacInnis, James Patrick, Sean Burke, and Andy Brickley; head coaches: Marc Crawford, Dave Tippett, and John Tortorella; hockey media: Glenn Healy and John Davidson,; TV executives: John Shannon [LeafsTV] and Tom McNeeley [ESPN]; and former referee Terry Gregson.
It appears no bloggers were invited.
Here is a partial list of the committee recommendations courtesy of OntheWings
- Reduce obstruction.
- A penalty shootout to decide tie games after the five-minute overtime period.
- Reduce minor penalties in overtime to one minute instead of two minutes.
- Adopt AHL experimental rules (first announced by Campbell and the NHL last year), and that includes the tag-up offside, the wider blue-lines, pushing the net back two feet, and restricting the goalie's ability to play the puck in a designating zone behind the net.
- Automatic (no-touch) icing.
- A puck shot directly into the stands in the defensive zone is a two-minute penalty for all skaters, not just the goalie.
- Improved access for broadcast rights-holders. An example was given of baseball managers during the World Series doing live game-in interviews with the broadcast booth.
- Improve communication and partnership at all levels of the game.
There are a number of good ideas proposed by this group, but the biggest problem with the game now is the lack of space on the ice. Only so much can be done with rule changes, changing the lines, or moving the net around. Eventually you are going to have to make the ice surface bigger.
Add 5 feet of ice to all four sides, or remove two rows of seating, and the game will open up more than any crackdown on obstruction or 10 foot blue line could ever do. Unfortunately, it seems the committee failed to thoroughly study the Swenson Plan
for fixing the problems facing the NHL. Inexcusable.
In a report a week and a half ago on CBC, Hall-of-Famer Ken Dryden said the season will be lost in six weeks
. A few other sources have said the first or second week of January will be the latest date this season can be salvaged. The rolling 30 day arena date cancellation has been upped to 45 days. After one more batch of games is cancelled, that could be all she wrote for the 2004-05 season.
And if you need to hear something that reminds you of what it was like to be at an NHL game, find your team and play this selection of NHL goal horns
[Update] The New York Times wrote a feature on the economic effect of the lockout in Detroit, Columbus and Buffalo: Lockout in NHL Puts Businesses on the Brink