Offer on the Table, Why the Players Need to Fold


September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Multiple news sources are reporting that the NHL has offered the players a very generous offer in hopes of quickly ending the lockout.  The seemingly out of the blue deal offers a number of concessions and compromises by the owners.  Should the players accept, the first puck would drop on November 2nd.

The fact that the NHL was willing to drop dramatically from retaining 54% of revenues, down to an even 50-50 split speaks volumes of how badly they want this deal done.  The NHL is a two way street, and nobody, not the owners, or the players, are making any money without each other, so they might as well call it even.  Just five days after the scheduled start of the season has passed, the owners are realizing that they can’t afford to alienate an already fragile fanbase.  Considering that the league wants to play all 82 games, though rough on the players, shows a commitment to fans that they’d rather not lose time at the end of the day.  Now it’s time for the players to come to the same realizations.

The last CBA left the players with a very generous 57% cut in revenues.  While there was a salary cap, contracts exploded and loopholes were exposed.  While the players may not like the cuts and proposed 5 year contract caps, they need to take the hit this time for the good of the game.  If rumors are true and the offer only lasts for six years, most of these players will only be signing one contract under the deal anyways, once their current ones expire.  They can re-negotiate to lose the length restriction in six years.  In the meantime, they have a chance to save their season and win back fans who’ve already started to commit their dollars elsewhere.  The NHL even worked out a clause that would keep players from facing a contract rollback, which they dealt with the last time around.  The deal also offers an extra 50 million dollars in revenue sharing.

This deal is about as generous as it’s going to get from the NHL owners and should be considered a big extending of the olive branch.  Donald Fehr, this is no time for posturing.  Even Kennedy and Khrushchev knew that a sense of pride was no basis for mutual extinction.  The soul of the NHL is riding on this offer.  If the players can’t accept, or quickly make a more than reasonable counter-offer, the league could be doomed and hockey fans could be in for a cold, lonely winter.  Mr. Fehr, tear down this lockout!