Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hope, forward progess, and a financial plan we can believe in

Well this is exciting, isn't it? The NHL has put a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenue on the table, which is a super-reasonable offer, and is generally considered where the two sides will eventually end up. The proposal, apparently, also offers no rollbacks, which is a huge sticking point for the PA - whatever regulations new contracts have to deal with, they don't want already-signed deals to be affected. This is huge news, I believe, as it represents a significant step forward from the "chasm" that previously stood between the NHL and the NHLPA.

It's not all good news, of course. As I do with the Romney-Ryan tax plan, I have some basic arithmetical questions here. If the players are going to make all the money they've been promised, how is it going to drop from 57% to 50% of HRR? Will they raise total hockey-related revenue by 14%? Not likely, given the goodwill they're burning day by day. It's widely believed that the proposal includes some sort of escrow agreement, which would be a pretty big sticking point. But, of course, details on that aren't out yet. They could be disastrous enough that the PA is not interested.

Or, of course, Donald Fehr could see this as a sign of weakness and pounce, by submitting a counter-proposal that splits the difference between the proposed 50/50 split and the 57% the NHLPA currently takes in. The negotiations started so far away, and Bettman and Fehr are both ruthless enough negotiators, that the NHLPA definitely has the opportunity to squander this and make as unreasonable a counter-offer to this as the NHL first made to them a few months ago.

Oh, and did I mention the offer has a November 2 season start deadline? The NHL takes this offer off the table if they can't get it signed in time to start the regular season on November 2, which is in 2 weeks and 3 days. If you figure training camp has to happen, like, at all, that doesn't give the PA much time. In fact, Bettman said that the PA has a 10-day window, starting now. Which is kinda shitty, for negotiation reasons, but also kinda good, because it means we might have hockey ever.

At any rate, the NHL has tendered what seems on the surface to be a reasonable offer. Which means we're that much closer to a deal than we were yesterday. If negotiations move quickly enough, a full 82-game season isn't even off the table. Your move, PA.

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