Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Significant development in negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA; Bettman transcript

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild off-season news Updated: October 16, 2012 - 5:20 PM

UPDATED

There has finally been significant movement in negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA that may lead to traction toward hopefully ending the lockout.

In Toronto today, the NHL made a long-term proposal that lands the split in revenues to the 50-50 we all knew was the league’s intent all along.
 
The league has made clear its intent is to preserve an 82-game season that would begin Nov. 2.
 
“We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season, and in that light we made a proposal,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “It is our best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and playoffs. We’re focused on getting the season started on Nov. 2. That’s what this offer was about.”
 
That would allow a weeklong training camp beginning Oct. 26, meaning the CBA would need to get done by Oct. 25.
 
Please go to the bottom of the blog for a transcript from Bettman:
 
Obviously the devil is in the details, but here are some things that have been reported by media on the scene:
 
1. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said the proposal is “at least six years” and that the negotiations today have broken up because the union wants to completely review, digest and understand the NHL’s offer.
“Gary indicated to me and I assume he indicated to you that they would like to get a full 82-game season in,” Fehr said. “We, of course, share that view and would like to get a full 82-game season in. And, so, what our hope is that after we review this that there will be a feeling on the players’ side that this is a proposal from which we can negotiate and try to reach a conclusion. But, we are not in a position to make any comments about it beyond that at this point.”
 
2. The NHLPA has called for a 4 p.m. CT conference call of the Executive Board and negotiating committee.
 
3. According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon (@jsportsnet), who used to work for the NHL and is very plugged in, free agency would be 28 years old or eight years of service (currently 27 and 7, and down from NHL’s July 13 offer of 10 years. Contract length maximums would be five years (this, the players will want to negotiate, I’m thinking). Arbitration would still exist (league proposed to abolish arb in July). Entry-level contracts would be three years (currently three and down from five in league’s July proposal). Revenue sharing would be near $200 million.
 
4. According to Bettman, there would be no salary rollback. That is obviously big because the players want owners to honor what they agreed to pay.
 
What I'm told by sources is there will still be escrow because you never know what the hockey related revenue will be for upcoming seasons. In terms of a rollback, players made $1.883 billion last year. They made 57% of the revenue. The 50-50 split would be for this upcoming season. Players go down to 50%, they basically lose about 12 percent of their salary. That difference would be deferred and reimbursed to the players over the course of their contract. So to be simple, if you lose $1 million and you're on a 10-year deal, you'd get $100,000 a year reimbursement for the next 10 years.
 
5. If you're an NHL player sent to the minors on a one-way contract and make over a certain amount of money, that contract in the minors would be charged against the NHL cap. It's the Wade Redden rule, essentially, not allowing a team like the Rangers to hide $6 million in the minors and have it taken off their cap.
 
Again, we need to see more details, and all this will still need to be negotiated, I promise. We have to see what the union says after it crunches the numbers, but my guess is there will be a lot of negotiation sessions the next week (which is a good thing.)
 
6. Nov. 2 start dates means the Wild's first nine games must be rescheduled by adding games in an extended season in April and by adding one game every five weeks. But with the schedule standing pat, the Wild would currently begin Nov. 3 with a six-game road trip in Tampa Bay. As the schedule currently stands, 15 of the Wild's first 19 games would be on the road.
 
Small price to pay though for a hockey season.
 
I'll be interested to see what happens here. For instance, I've confirmed Mikko Koivu's deal is done with Turku. I'm told it took awhile because he needed to get his shoulder insured. That's been rectified and he was scheduled to leave for Finland Friday.
 
Does that change?
 
So, where do we stand?
 
1. Positive movement.
 
2. Traction to at least negotiate and continue speaking.
 
3. Most fans I talk to say 50-50 is fair. Most players I’ve talked to have told me 50-50 is where they think is fair, too. We again need to see all the details in this CBA proposal, but initially, the side of public opinion will surely move in the league’s favor.
 
The pressure is on the union right now to review and respond and continue to move this process in a direction where it leads to a 2012-13 NHL season.
 
Stay tuned. I'll be updating the blog as more details emerge.

FROM BETTMAN

Good afternoon, everyone. Bill Daly and I just spent the last hour

with Don and Steve Fehr, and I would like to briefly report to you on what

was discussed. As I think all of you know we have been extremely

disappointed, and that's an understatement, that we've been unable to get

these negotiations on the essential elements moving forward. So, today, we

began by discussing with Don and Steve that if we were to drop the puck on

November 2nd for the start of the regular season, we could preserve an

82-game schedule for the regular season and play full playoffs as we

normally do and be done before the end of June.

 

We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season, and in that

light, we made a proposal, an offer, really that is our best shot at

preserving an 82-game regular season and playoffs, and this offer that we

made obviously was contingent upon having an 82-game regular season.

 

A lot of you know we don't negotiate publicly, and I'm not going to

break that habit because I don't think it's constructive. The fact of the

matter is, we offered a 50-50 share of HRR, hockey related revenues, and we

believe we addressed the concern that players have about what happens to

their salaries as a result in this year of reducing the percentage from 57

to 50%.

 

Beyond that, I don't want to get into the substance other than to say

we believe that this was a fair offer for a long-term deal, and it's one

that we hope gets a positive reaction so that we can drop the puck on

November 2nd -- which backing up, entails at least a one-week training

camp. So we have about nine or ten days to get this all put to bed,

signed, sealed and delivered, in order for this offer to be effective and

for us to move forward.

We hope that this effort that we've undertaken today would be

successful because we know how difficult this all has been for everybody

associated with the game, particularly our fans.

 

How confident are you that this is going to go forward?

Well, we certainly hope it will. We've given it our best shot.

 

What was the reaction?

The reaction was that they obviously need to study it, and so we told

them that we're available to them. But they're going to need some time to

review it, and I respect that portion of the process. Obviously, they've

got to understand the offer and get comfortable with it.

 

Was it just the core economic issues in terms of the offer?

We had a number of significant elements that we believe can and

should serve as the basis of a deal to get us playing hockey.

 

Why do this today?

Because if we want to have an 82-game regular season, if we want to

preserve an 82-game regular season and you back up the timetable in terms

of the schedule, we needed to do it.

By the way, in terms of the schedule, so everybody understands, the

compression that would be involved is one additional game every five weeks.

Beyond that, we don't think it would be good for the players or for the

game. But if you look at what our ability would be to schedule 82 games

and you work back from November 2nd, if we didn't do it now, if we didn't

put an effort on the table that we thought was fair and could get us

playing hockey, if we didn't do it now, then it probably wasn't going to

happen for a while. Because, again, it's done in the spirit of getting a

full season in.

 

Is it 50-50 across the board?

It's 50-50 across board.

 

How long of a contract will this be?

I'm not going to get into the specifics. We proposed a long-term

contract. We think that's in everybody's interest. We think that's what

our fans want.

 

Can you explain how you address the roll back or the escrow?

There is no roll back, and I'm not going to get into the specifics.

It would not be constructive at this point in time. The union has some

work to do, and we respect the process. I probably have gone further than

I usually have in terms of discussing what we've proposed than at any other

time. But I'm not comfortable going any further. I'm more concerned about

the process right now and getting us back on the ice.

 

How worried are you they might say no and more of the season will be

lost?

I don't even want to go there.

 

Is the league amenable to playing an abbreviated schedule?

We're focused on getting the puck dropped on November 2nd and playing

a full 82-game regular season and full playoffs. That's what this offer is

all about.

 

Have you made plans to meet later in the week?

We're going to be on-call to them. They have some work to do

internally. Obviously, we didn't put this proposal, this offer, together

overnight, and they're going to need a little time to review it. I'm

hoping that review will get us to a positive and constructive place.

-----

In Gophers news, Nick Bjugstad was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week. The junior center scored winning goals in each victory vs. Michigan State.

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