NEW YORK — The NHL issued a new proposal to the players’ association Tuesday as a lockout looms next month.
And at least one side is happy about it.
“We believe,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “that we made a significant, meaningful step.”
Time will tell, but at least NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and his players have another proposal – the league’s second this summer – to digest. The two sides will meet again today at the NHL offices.
A less optimistic Fehr labeled the offering “a proposal that we intend to respond to.” Meanwhile, Bettman called it a “counterproposal” to the offer the players presented to the league earlier this month. In that proposal, the players had offered to take 2-, 4- and 6-percent reductions in Hockey Related Revenue for the first three years of a new collective bargaining agreement.
“We felt in order to move the process along,” Bettman said, “we tried to address the fundamental issues.”
Neither the league nor the players would divulge specifics of the proposal, although Montreal forward Mathieu Darche said he was “encouraged.”
“We had a lot of people at the office evaluating the proposal,” said Darche, who estimated he received “20, 25 texts” from players asking for details of the different proposal. “It didn’t take them five minutes to write it and it won’t take us five minutes to read it.”
The current CBA expires Sept. 15. The NHL has said it’ll lock out players if a new deal isn’t reached.
Limiting the personnel at the bargaining table in the hope of making progress, only Fehr and his top assistant, Steve Fehr, met with Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Tuesday morning when the proposal was issued. Traditionally, several players have joined in on the talks.
Tuesday was the second time in six days that the meetings were limited to just four executives. They met for two hours last Wednesday in Toronto.