NHLPA's Fehr: New proposal would help 'stabilize the industry'
With Penguins star Sidney Crosby making his first appearance at the NHL's collective bargaining talks, the NHL Players' Association made a bold offer.
The union made a three-year pitch — with an option for a fourth year — that would see players receive a smaller percentage of revenues during the first three years. Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHLPA, explained the concession during the first three years of the offer coincides with a plan for expanded revenue sharing that would help struggling teams.
Fehr said the proposal could “stabilize the industry.”
Penguins right wing and union representative Craig Adams has been an active member in player discussions and feels good about Tuesday's proposal.
“We put a lot of work into this,” Adams told the Tribune-Review on Tuesday. “We think it addresses problems that exist while still being a fair deal for all the players. As a group, we feel great about it.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was joined by four league owners and two general managers in Toronto.
“Our hope is we can take care of business in the next month,” Bettman said. “That's our goal.”
The sides are set to meet again Wednesday, though it remains unclear when Bettman will officially respond to the NHLPA offer.
“It's clear to me that they didn't put it together in an hour or two, and as a result we're going to need to take a little bit of time to evaluate it, understand it,” Bettman said.
Some of the NHL's most prominent players, including Crosby, Washington left wing Alex Ovechkin and Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos, were among the 23 players on hand for Tuesday's proposal.
Adams was cautiously optimistic that talks are headed in a positive direction. The current CBA agreement expires Sept. 15.
“I don't know yet,” Adams said. “Only time is going to tell in terms of reaction from the league. They've got a lot to look at, a lot to talk about.”
Fehr said players are set to surrender as much as $465 million in revenue under the proposal if the league continues “average” growth and said that number could increase to $800 million if the league repeats its success from the past two seasons.
The NHLPA proposal would maintain a hard salary cap, though a luxury tax that would allow wealthy teams to exceed the salary cap is part of the proposal.
Adams said the players are not completely resigned to keeping the salary cap, but will do so if certain facets of the agreement are acceptable.
“Everything is up for discussion,” Adams said. “You sort of start from scratch in these things. As Donald has said, that's one way to go. The league hasn't given any indication that they're interested in going in that (no salary cap) direction. To avoid any work stoppage, this is the alternative.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161, Ext. 1975.