The NHL is considering two proposals made by the Players’ Association during Wednesday’s negotiating session that could put an end to the lockout that already has claimed the first month of the season.
The union made proposals on two key issues that dominated discussions Wednesday: one on revenue sharing and another on the “make whole” concept to honor existing player contracts, a source told ESPN.com.
The NHLPA’s “Make-Whole” proposal would see the players’ share drop to 50-50 of revenues by Year 3 based on “regular” growth, meaning there would be a “phase-in” element.
Talks between the two sides began around 1 p.m. ET Thursday and are ongoing. It is the third straight day the sides are meeting in an effort to end the lockout.
This is the 54th day of the lockout, and this week is considered critical for the hockey season to be saved.
Owners and players already have bargained for about 13 hours over two days this week at an undisclosed site in New York.
The two sides, which have met three times in the past five days, first tackled revenue sharing. Although the NHL repeatedly has downplayed the significance of the practice, the league spent more than three hours discussing it Wednesday.
The union wants to see an enhanced revenue-sharing system — one that would require lucrative clubs to help out struggling teams — as a fundamental part of the new collective bargaining agreement. In the league’s last offer, submitted last month, it offered $200 million, up from $150 million in its previous offer.
The more compelling issue facing the sides, however, is the “Make-Whole” provision.
Before last weekend’s clandestine session between NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the sides were divided on how the provision would work. The league originally proposed deferred payments that ultimately would reduce the players’ future share; the union wanted the owners to bear the responsibility.
It is believed the league has shown a willingness to bend on the “Make-Whole” mechanism and absorb some of the financial commitment. It remains unclear, however, how much the league would be willing to shoulder with respect to the damage incurred because of the lockout.
Daly said $720 million in revenue had been lost when the league was forced to cancel all regular-season games through Nov. 30. He has not offered any new estimates since the NHL canceled the annual Winter Classic last week.
Time is becoming a bigger factor every day a deal isn’t reached. The lockout, which went into effect Sept. 16 after the previous CBA expired, already has forced the cancellation of 327 regular-season games — including the New Year’s Day outdoor Winter Classic in Michigan.