Share This Page

Penguins rep: Hockey wants an NFL-like deal

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 4:24 p.m.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with reporters following labor talks with the NHLPA on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, in Toronto. (AP)

Precedent set over the last year by football and basketball players may lead to clean sheets of ice when hockey players are set to convene for the opening of NHL training camps in late September.

Members of the NHL Players Association expect league commissioner Gary Bettman to push for a revenue split closer to 50-50 on a collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires Sept. 15.

“From the owners' perspective, I don't know how they view those other CBAs, but I know Gary has mentioned to the press that he looks at those two, and the NHL needs to be closer,” said Craig Adams, the Penguins NHLPA representative.

Negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA remain stuck on “fundamental economic issues,” Bettman said Thursday.

A bargaining session in Toronto lasted less than two hours.

The next meeting, which Bettman described as a “small group session,” is scheduled for Tuesday in New York. Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly will represent the NHL. Executive director Donald Fehr and his brother, Steve, will attend for the NHLPA.

Adams is not sure if he will attend the New York session, and he told the Tribune-Review that “nothing's changed in the past week” regarding negotiations.

League owners are not permitted to speak about CBA negotiations.

Adams, like Donald Fehr, said he is “optimistic” a new CBA can be reached before Sept. 15. The Penguins' first exhibition game is scheduled for Sept. 24, only two days after their tentative initial training-camp practice.

A contingency to that optimism is whether there is “mutual will” to do a deal, Fehr said in Toronto.

Two competing CBA proposals are on the table, but the NHL and NHLPA remain deeply divided on future revenue sharing. The latest NHLPA proposal, rejected last week by the NHL, included a willingness to keep the salary cap and to accept less than 57 percent of revenues for three years.

The NHL is largely pleased with the current economic system, which has sparked a competitive balance leading to a different club winning the Stanley Cup in each of the past seven seasons. However, league officials have talked openly about eliminating heavily front-loaded, long-term contacts such as ones signed by several unrestricted free agents this summer.

As part of the NHL proposal, deals would be capped at five years and would be required to pay the same amount each season.

Also, the NHL is believed to crave a revenue split similar to those inked by the NFL and NBA players in the last 12 months.

NFL players are guaranteed only 47 percent of revenues on the 10-year CBA reached last summer. NBA players received a 50-50 split of basketball income on its 10-year CBA that was agreed upon after a work stoppage that wiped 16 games from the last regular season.

“Certainly for the league, it behooves them to look at the players' share in football and basketball and say, ‘We want to be closer to what they've done in those sports,' ” Adams said.

The NHL will not budge on preserving the salary cap, league officials have said.

Adams said he “didn't know” if this could be considered crunch time to reach a deal because the NHL and the NHLPA have “found some common ground” on peripheral portions of a new CBA.

“But on the core economic issues, we're still far apart,” Adams said. “So far, we're early in the process. People don't want to hear that, but when you've sat out a whole year before, you realize it's only August. We have a long way to go.”

The Associated Press contributed.

Rob Rossi is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rrossi@tribweb.com or 412-380-5635.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.