2012 NHL CBA: Movement, but is it progress?

"Business is business. They use a hockey stick, I use a pen." (no, Gary Bettman did not say that) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Just a quick update on the NHL / NHLPA labor front. Though the doom and gloom still lingers, there was a change on Tuesday in New York as ownership put forward a less draconian proposal to the NHL Players Association than the one proposed in July.

From Lyle Richardson over at Spectors Hockey:

[...]the league moved closer to the "50-50" split most observers anticipated was its true goal.

Under its latest proposal, the players get 51.6% of HRR in year one, 50.5% in year two, 49.6% in year three, followed by 50% for each of the final three years.

Make sure you read the full article for more information and a better explanation.

So, in essence, ownership has wasted six weeks while sitting on a hard-line offer that spread ill-will. The Players Association alternative vision could also be looked at as a time-waster as ownership is too endeared to the status-quo to go with a progressive structured system. If this is the start of serious negotiations, it's happening way late.

This offer does not come without a caveat or two. While there would be no salary roll-back for players, the 2012-13 salary cap would shrink substantially from $70 million to just north of $58 million. This is a divide-and-conquer tactic akin to what the Players Association proposed with revenue sharing - it pits players against players. A smaller salary cap with no salary rollback means buyouts league-wide and a second round of NHL free agency (or perhaps a waiver draft), and a lot of tough choices for teams that have to shed payroll to get under the new cap.

Just think of it from where the Tampa Bay Lightning are sitting right now: According to Capgeek, the Bolts have $63+ million allotted towards players for the upcoming season. If, suddenly, the Bolts had to shed $5-8 million in payroll, they're in a bind... But, whomever gets moved would still see a payday. On a league-wide front, it could also increase parity by forcing good players out into the open market while teams under the salary cap stock up and improve their rosters.

Negotiations are a give-and-take process, and the process resumes at 2 PM this afternoon when the Players Association responds to ownership's latest offer. There si no saying what will happen, but at least they're talking and that in itself is constructive. But is it progress?

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