Well it looked promising.
But almost as soon as they began again, CBA talks between the NHL and NHLPA ended just as abruptly.
New talks, new offers, new disagreements, same old same old.
On Tuesday Gary Bettman announced its latest proposal to the NHLPA. The proposal offered a 50/50 split of league revenues while honoring existing contracts. Free agency would be moved to age 28 or eight years of service from age 27 or seven years of service. Player contracts would be a maximum of five years. The new CBA would be good for six years with an option for a seventh year.
The hook was that it would have to be agreed upon within ten days so that a week-long training camp could begin on October 26 and a full season could be played beginning November 2. The original schedule would kick in on November 2 and lost games to be made up in April.
One has to wonder, does that mean the Los Angeles Kings would have to wait until April to raise their Stanley Cup banner, or would they just rejigger their plans? At this point, they can wait until next October, which seems far more likely.
“We believe that this was a fair offer for a long-term deal,” said Bettman.
Certainly it was a new starting point for discussion, and any discussion is better than none.
The NHLPA took a couple of days to analyze the offer and come up with not one, not two, but three counteroffers.
Cue the pointing finger.
"The Players' Association came back and basically made three alternate proposals on the players' share, all variations, to some degree, of the one proposal that they made over the summer and really haven't deviated from since," Bettman commented after new talks halted after just one hour. "And none of the three variations of players' share that they gave us even began to approach 50-50 (revenue split) either at all or for some long period of time and it's clear that we're not speaking the same language in terms of what they came back to us with."
One step forward. Two steps back.
"This is the best offer that we have to make," said Bettman, taking a hard line on his latest proposal. "The fact is, we're nowhere close to what we proposed."
Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA, said the latest proposal was still unfair to the players. Finger point in the other direction.
"The players offered to make real concessions in terms of reducing their share of hockey related revenues, with some small degree of protection," said Fehr. "The players don't see any reason to take less in terms of dollars."
Part of that bone of contention was the "make whole" caluse in which the NHL proposed to eventually pay players the full value of signed contracts even though they must take a bit initial escrow bite. The repayments would come out of the players' share in future years.
"It is players paying players, not owners paying players," said Fehr. "The players' share is reuced to 50% from 57% immediately this season. This is a reduction in the share of 12.3%. That would mean that players' salaries would be cut by about $231 million."
And so it continues. He said. She said. No one agrees. And it continues to boil down to greed.
If you think both sides will agree by next week so that the season can begin on November 2, I want to have whatever it is that you are smoking. It certainly sounds a lot happier than the reality that we are really facing.