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NHL Lockout Watch 2012: Negotiations as of November 21

After an eight-day split, the NHL and NHLPA try to start again.

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The NHL Players' Association presented a new proposal to the owners on Wednesday, November 21.

The new proposal represents a significant move by the players in the search for an end to the 2012 NHL lockout.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged that there was "movement" on some issues.

But the proposal was ultimately rejected by the league, which refused to move off its previous stance on any of the major issues.

Media reports suggested that the NHLPA proposal had been crafted at the insistence of the "moderates" in the union, so the rejection of its various compromises was seen by players as a stinging rebuke.

The Fifty-Fifty Deal

As explained in previous posts, the two sides agree that overall NHL revenues will ultimately be split 50/50 between players and management.

For the first time, the NHLPA has agreed to the league's wish to implement the half-and-half arrangement immediately, but with two important conditions.

1) Beginning in year two of the deal, the players' share in dollars may not be less than it was in the previous year. So if there is a season in which league revenues drop from the year before, the owners would absorb that loss.

Media reports suggest the NHL will never agree to this.

2) The players want an additional $393 million, paid out over the life of the deal, to ensure that all current contracts are "made whole."

The NHL has offered to pay out $211 million over two years. So this looks like an area where they might be able to work towards middle ground.

(If you're confused by the terminology, here's an explanation of the "make whole" issue.

Cutting Contracts Down to Size

This is the latest major stumbling block, if reports are accurate.

The NHL wants a five-year term limit on all future contracts, with salary varying by no more than five per cent from year to year.

The league also wants to add an extra year of service before a player qualifies as an unrestricted free agent, and impose new limits on salary arbitration.

The players oppose all those ideas.

NHLPA has tabled new rules which would punish teams signing players to long-term, front-loaded contracts.

But those rules would only apply to future signings. It's believed the NHL is looking for a provision that would also cover long-term contracts already in place.

The league has backed off on an earlier wish to reduce entry-level contracts from three years to two years.

The Other Stuff

Among other things, NHLPA proposes:
- An increase in playoff bonus money paid to players.
- Changes in how the salary cap "floor" is calculated.
- An NHL player sent to the minors will count against the team's salary cap, but only for the amount of his salary that exceeds $1 million.
- Changes to NHL waiver rules.
- Changes to escrow payments made by players.

Among "rules to be negotiated" the NHLPA lists the possibility of "compliance buyouts," which could allow contracts to be bought out without penalty in the first year of the new deal.

It's not known whether the NHL is in agreement on these issues.

Details gathered from assorted media sources.

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