Donald Fehr, the man behind the men (in front of the men).
Tuesday was NHLPA proposal day in hockey's ongoing labour negotiations, with the player's association getting down on one knee and making their case before the NHL owners (and their tiny, overprotective father).
It was, of course, a big day for the hopeless romantics among us that still believe the two warring factions might be able to resolve their dispute in an amicable and timely fashion. Would the players' proposal bridge the gap? Would it even try to?
By all accounts, yes. The atmosphere following the proposal appears to be surprisingly positive, and initial impressions were actually pretty good. Heck, elements of the proposal reportedly "intrigued" the NHL, meaning they might not reject it as vociferously as expected.
The full proposal has yet to leak, but we were given a sense of its major points.
First, the PA's proposal aligns with the NHL's on one fundamental point: the players are willing to take less money, albeit not quite the way the league proposed.
It's a system that doesn't see the players giving money back, as they did in the last CBA negotiations and as they were asked to do again. It simply sees them taking less going forward. The players are asking for a smaller percentage of revenues as they increase each year. Donald Fehr, from the Fourth Period:
"Under our alternative proposal, essentially the players have indicated that they will take a reduced share of HRR, going forward, for the next three seasons," Fehr said. "That would be based on a reduction from what would be produced otherwise under the current formula with the league growing at traditional rates that it has for the last seven years.
According to Aaron Ward, the reduced share would be structured thusly: "Year 1 will increase by 2%, year 2 by 4%, and in year 3 by 6%. If Revenue growth exceeds 10%, anything over 10% is subject to 57% that exists under present system."
This could be anywhere from $400-$800 million dollars the players are giving up, depending on revenues. But don't think they're just walking away from it, because they've got a pretty good idea of where it should go. More Fehr:
"We also propose significantly expanded, more aggressive, and more targeted revenue sharing. The purpose of this is to help clubs and ownerships groups which may need it. Under our proposal, revenue-sharing could reach, and probably would reach, more than $250 million, per year.
"In essence, when you boil it all down, what we're suggesting is that the players partner with the financially stronger owners to help stabilize the industry and assist the less financially-strong ownership groups."
In actual essence, when you boil it all down, by presenting the players as sympathetic to the small-market teams and promising them a massive chunk of relinquished revenue, Fehr just partnered them with the small-market owners. He also pitted those owners against the large-market owners.
Fracturing a united front is always a shrewd negotiating ploy.
Gary Bettman didn't give a sense of where the owners would be going from here. In fact, he didn't say much at all. Consider this super-informative quote:
"It's clear to me that they didn't put it together in an hour or two," he said.
Yes, it's also clear to all of us who waited a month for it. Thanks for that.
Bettman added that the owners plan to evaluate it, which also doesn't tell us anything we couldn't have assumed safely on our own. But it sounds like what they were given is worth evaluating, and that should give us hope that some kind of progress was made on Tuesday.
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