Exactly a month to the day that this unsightly NHL lockout started, Gary Bettman and his gang of merry owners decided to make the first meaningful proposal of this tiresome bargaining process.
Yes, I know, there have been many proposals to date. But the one made today was the first meaningful one, in that it will finally move the two sides towards negotations and away from rhetoric.
The full details of the NHL’s proposal to the PA have yet to be divulged, but what is clear is that the league offered a 50/50 split of Hockey Related Revenues (HRR).
That is significant simply because 50/50 is exactly where most experts expected this thing to end up once the dust had settled.
So why the sudden movement from an ownership group who seemed as resolved and entrenched as ever?
Rustling in the leaves
Despite the outward lock-step that Bettman and the owners seem to be in, there has been a lot of rumblings lately that all was not happy in paradise.
In addition, there has been word that perhaps there is a faction of NHL owners who are tired of Bettman and want him replaced. Moreover, while some are certainly prepared to sit out another season, others are not.
All of this is, of course, is based on a few pieces that were published over the last week or so, but given the sudden change in tone from the league, perhaps there is something to these stories.
My money says that there is a portion of the NHL ownership that wants to get back to playing hockey and making money. Moreover, I think this segment probably lobbied the rest and pushed Bettman towards making an uncharacteristically amenable offer to his player’s union counterparts.
If you haven’t seen Bettman’s press conference, go check it out on TSN.ca.
Gone is his brash arrogance. Gone is his petulance. Gone is the guy who’s head shakes with disdain the moment anyone even thinks about disagreeing with him.
In his place, was a man who looked a little defeated. At least in my eyes.
But maybe I’m just reading into it.
Despite the joy erupting throughout the Twitterverse that a deal is imminent, there is still a lot of work to do. The NHLPA will surely reject the current proposal, but probably not outright.
And that’s to be expected when it comes to collective bargaining. You never accept what you are offered…you always ask for more.
This is precisely why this offer is perhaps indicative of Bettman’s shaky footing, coming in at exactly the number that most felt this thing would settle at, instead of higher.
When you know the other side will ask for concessions and the number you want is 50/50, wouldn’t you make a proposal at, say, 52/48?
However this ends up playing out, the proposal from the league—which is contingent on playing an 82-game season starting November 2, 2012—is a starting point for true negotiations…something that we have not yet seen in this process.
My feeling is that the PA will come back with modifications, and the two sides will sit down for some lengthy sessions over the next few weeks. But, ultimately, I think that unless something comes out of the proposal that is completely obscene, the puck should be dropping on this season in early November.
And this from a guy who thought, just a week ago, that the whole season might be lost!
I will say one thing though. If the PA decides to outright reject this proposal, then I think all hope will be lost for this season and perhaps beyond.
What about you? Do you think this proposal can salvage the season?