The NHL on Thursday made a few significant tweaks to its most recent collective bargaining agreement offer, and one optimistic NHL team executive contacted this morning said he believes it will be a ”tipping point” in the negotiations.
The new offer, first reported by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun), has the league willing to extend by one year its term limits on individual player contracts. Instead of limiting deals to five years, and increasing those deals to seven years if the player re-signs with his current club, the league has offered to increase its offer to 6 years/7years.
The players have been seeking an eight-year term limit.
Other reporters and bloggers have tweeted Friday morning that the league is standing firm on its desire for a new CBA to span 10 seasons, with either side given the chance to opt out after eight years. The NHLPA has been seeking an eight-year deal with a six-year opt out.
The league also has re-stated its offer of $300 million for the hotly-contested ”make whole” provision, dollars the union has insisted be made available to prevent players currently under contract from taking a potential severe rollback in compensation. When talks broke off two weeks ago, the league hinted heavily that the $300 million offer would be reduced when/if a new offer was made.
It is believed the NHL’s latest offer includes a $70.2 million salary cap for what remains of the 2012-13 season. The league then wants the cap to fall to $60 million for the start of the 2013-14 season. The Players’ Association no doubt will seek to increase the $60 million figure.
As of early Friday evening, the union had not formally responded to the league offer.
If these tweaks provide traction to cut a deal, it’s possible the union could vote to ratify within, say, the next five to seven days, leading to an abbreviated training camp. If so, it’s likely the league would play a 48-game regular season, to begin approximately Jan. 18 and wrapping up at the start of May.
A full round of Stanley Cup playoffs would follow, with a potential Game 7 of the Cup final played no later than the June 20-25 time period.
The NHL lockout, the third in league history, began Sept. 16. Friday is Day No. 104. Keep in mind, when the league and players ended the 1994-95 lockout, agreement was not reached until Jan. 11, and play resumed on Jan. 20.