Last night the players and owners were embroiled in the thick of CBA negotiations until early Thursday morning. No agreement was reached, and we’re told no agreement is imminent, but things did move in the right direction despite the tensions. Despite what we’re “told,” people are still hopeful.

Both sides exchanged CBA proposals yesterday, making it a monumental day en route to actually getting a deal done, with the players offering theirs up first, and the owner’s making the last move of the day. The day was highlighted by frequent separations into personal caucuses and re-meetings by the two sides, prompting one of the more informed reporters, Chris Johnston, to get the hashtag “LockoutYoyo” going (another Twitter trend – the damn NHL podium – I’ll get to in a bit).

The nuts and bolts of the owner’s offer:

* They would put $300 million towards the “make whole” agreement ($250M to players, $50M to pension fund). The players had asked for $393M, the owners had previously proposed $211M. So y’know…getting closer here, kids.

* The owner’s proposal was for a 10 year CBA (with an opt-out after 8) – here’s to hoping that part takes, I’m not doing this again in five.

* The league would leave unrestricted free agency and arbitration as is, which is a concession compared to their previous offers. Of course, it’s not actually a concession given that they’re just proposing to leave things as-is.

* The one area the owners were unwilling to budge: they really want contract lengths maxed out at five years (with no more than a 5% increase or decrease in pay year-to-year on all deals), but would be able to sign their own players for up to seven. Apparently this bothers the players. …And now, a little rant:

Does the NHL really want to limit themselves to only being able to lock up their Crosbys for seven years? Why not a longer option combined with some resolve to not sign mediocre players to infinite length contracts? Have better GMs. Hold your GMs accountable. You don’t have to sign guys for as many years as it’s legally allowed. Have personal team rules. If other teams want to sign guys to shitty deals, isn’t that a benefit to your club? To hell with parity – what happened to being competitive and cashing in on the failures of other clubs?

All that said…I spoke with Clark Gillies on this briefly, and we were agreeing: looking at it from the players side, our thoughts on the owners’ contract cap proposal would be this:

Kay.

Moving on.

Seriously: I mean, five years is a healthy amount of time. If you earn your money over that time, the time will re-up with you. What’s wrong with having some expectation of performance? You should expect that from yourself. Not to mention half the time the shorter deals will save guys from themselves – don’t you want to have options after a few years if you’re not happy somewhere?

As I’ve posted before, the Sedins recently came out and said they think they’ll go year-to-year, partially just to keep themselves motivated. Daniel:

“Mentally, when you get to this age, to be able to perform, you have to be there. I really believe if you sign a long term deal it will be tougher to perform on a nightly basis.”

So, whatever. We’re not going to stay locked out over that particular sticking point. Something like 10% of NHL players would be affected by a cap on contract lengths anyway (most guys sign for less than five years) – are the guys really willing to threaten the season to make sure guys like Ovy and Sid get the money they deserve?

Annnd rant over.

Inside the room last night there were a few pivotal moments. Michael Grange mentioned this in his recap of last night:

According to sources close to the negotiation it was Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller who lost his temper briefly, which seemed to encourage further dialogue, although at another point Boston Bruins hard line owner Jeremy Jacobs threatened to leave the negotiation. At that point a more moderate group of owners including the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Ron Burkle and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jeff Vinik agreed to keep the negotiation going.

Things are heating up, which could be awesome or awful. Rich people generally don’t like not getting their way (a fair generalization, I think), so compromise is going to frustrate a lot of people.

The other bit of semi-relevance from last night was the Twitter trend I mentioned earlier, @NHLPodium, which I’ll now attempt to explain:

When a podium is going up after negotiations (in fact it was the “lecturn” that was going up, but whatever), it’s a likely sign that a presser may be coming, and thus there might be new developments. When you’re a reporter being treated like a mushroom – being fed shit and kept in the dark – you report minor details like this. Last night, about a dozen reporters jumped on the scoop that the podium was going up, and us crazy hockey fans descended into online madness about the tidbit. Holy shit, did some people take the ball and run with it (which angered Sean Gentille of the Sporting News). That twitter account now has nearly 12,000 followers.

I loved this little cartoon by @stevieroxelle, who you should follow:

The Twitpic:

But enough podium fun. The players and owners are meeting again this afternoon, while the PA has an internal meeting this morning. We’ll keep you updated on events as they unfold.

***

UPDATES:

Here come Bettman and Daly…

My numbers may have been a touch high…

Comments (6)

  1. I don’t know how anyone could stand the last lockout without the nonsense twitter has stirred up this time around. (Guy Serota, NHL Podium, etc)

  2. On the 5 year thing, I think it actually hurts the owners to have shorter contracts. Since the last lockout, the cap has gone up from what, 37 million to 72 million? If I signed someone to a 10 year contract after the previous lockout, I’d be paying them well below market value today. That said, injuries, Gomezisms, and negative league revenues can and will happen…but still, I don’t think that’s one that the owners should really make a sticking point. They should reform how the cap his is calculated, however (cap hit = salary in current year).

  3. the 5 year thing is a fantastic idea and I had hoped PA opposition to it was just posturing to make sure the UFA/arb nonsense was dropped. you have a set salary number, so it’s not taking money from players – it’s MOVING it from the players who don’t deserve it to the ones that do. we’re taking money from the 36-year-old piece of Ovechkin’s contract and making a 28-year-old Benn a richer man; that’s a win. and it will drive average salary up, which the players should be very interested in. hometown 2 extra years will provide an advantage to teams retaining players while still not preventing or penalizing movement or trades.

    for the fans/networks, more exciting trade deadlines, more players on contract years…we don’t NEED hard limits the way the NBA does, but they’re still a clear net positive.

  4. I do and don’t understand why players dislike this 5 year cap on contracts.

    There are some guys who traded maximizing the dollars for long-term stability. Henrik Zetterberg is one such guy. Makes about $7 million per right now…if he’d have gone UFA or, hell, just signed a series of one or two-year deals, he’d be making outrageous money. If Ville Leino’s worth $5mil in 2011, what the heck would Zetterberg have been worth? But he chose, instead of making outrageous money, to make good money and have a lot of control over his future until the end.

    On the flip side, someone like Alex Semin signs a series of shorter deals and keeps making the absolute maximum anyone would pay for someone who contributes what he does.

    This choice seems like a fair thing to want to preserve.

    On the other hand, when guys sign long deals, there’s always a chance (read: likelihood) that inflation would overtake them, resulting in their being pretty undercompensated. How crazy is it to think that Pavel Datsyuk, who signed a 7 year deal, is making less than Mike Cammaleri, who signed a few years later? Evgeni Malkin, with his 5 year deal, isn’t going to have that problem (seeing worse guys make more) for long.

    Also, these lengthy, cap-circumventing deals are something that’s only ever going to available to about 5% of the guys. The amount they circumvent by gets taxed out of the other 95%. Shouldn’t pretty much everybody who isn’t likely to get one of these deals hate them with a passion?

    • “adater ‏@adater

      From deep inside players side: “We were ready to play again. But Don came in (Wed.) and told us we could get more and to hold out”

      That deep-inside-players quote came from depth player. They want to play, but top players still in Fehr camp. Could explode soon …privately, (depth players) are feeling powerless as the Ryan Millers and Brad Richards of the world pretend this is a sacrifice for them ”

      Well, guess that tells me how important those retirement deals are to the 95%.

  5. Here’s an idea, have a 5 year loose cap on contracts and if a team and player agree that more years would be beneficial to them both, they have to petition the league to allow it. Maybe set up some council during signing time that gets to vote if they can extend beyond a 5 year or if they have to stick to it.

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