By Stu Hackel
Monday’s surprising proposal by the NHLPA – which, among other things, agreed to temporary salary reductions and generally maintaining the hard salary cap — presents a formidable challenge to the owners, who have pledged to have at least some sort of preliminary response on Wednesday.
This “alternative view,” as Don Fehr called it, of how the players would solve the NHL’s revenue imbalance between the successful and struggling clubs also includes more comprehensive revenue sharing than the league currently employs, something the wealthiest NHL clubs have largely resisted. Ken Warren of The Ottawa Citizen framed ownership’s dilemma in these terms on Wednesday morning when he tweeted, “Do richest NHL teams care more about their own teams or the NHL as a whole? That’s the answer we’re all waiting for.”
The first hints of an answer came from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after Wednesday’s bargaining session. ”There’s still a wide gap between us with not much time to go,” TSN quoted Bettman telling reporters. “This is a process that we’re going to continue to work hard on. I think there’s still a number of issues where we’re looking at the world differently.”
TSN added, ‘Bettman says he understands what the NHLPA has put forth, but adds that it isn’t a full proposal and he is ‘disappointed’ that he’s still waiting for one at this late stage.”
Those words may disappoint lots of fans and perhaps the players as well, although just what the NHL’s specific responses were to the details the players’ side presented Tuesday are not known.