Feb 6, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Edmonton Oilers center Shawn Horcoff (10) warms up before the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Optimism Reigns Supreme As League Set To Meet With NHLPA Tomorrow

That was quick.  I mean, it wasn’t say, pizza delivery quick, but two days is pretty quick if you count all the dead air that’s been floating around this ongoing saga over the past few months.

The NHL spat out a deal on Tuesday.  The deal looked a lot, lot better than what was first cooked up some months ago.  I predicted that the players wouldn’t take it,  and it appears that the NHLPA is prepared with a counter-offer coming tomorrow at 1 PM EST.

For those of you who are irritated, I understand.  But take this counter-proposal with a grain of salt, as it indicates that the sides are talking to each other in earnest.  This is unlike the previous four months, where the sides were accomplishing little to nothing by having meetings about everything but the most important core economic issues.

Here’s a list of a few things of what I expect the NHLPA to counter with:

  • A bigger cut into 50-50:  Yes, you can argue that “50-50 is fair”, to which I’d disagree with.  The players were making 57-43 a few months ago.  Instead of getting about a 24% cut in salary, right now the players are looking at around 12%.   Look for Donald Fehr to counter with about 53 or 54%, which would cut that 12% to about a 6% reduction.
  • More flexibility in year-to-year cap hit:  Current proposal keeps owners from circumventing the cap (which is good) by limiting the up and down value of a cap hit to just 5%.  Example:  Player A signs a 5 year deal worth 20M, the value of the cap hit for each year can’t be more than 5% up or down of 4M (which is 200K)
  • UFA status earlier than after 8 years of NHL service (usually comes at about age 28)
  • Cheaper massages and jet fuel.

If this gets done in eight days, the NHL will have a full 82-game season beginning on November 2nd.  So even if the league doesn’t accept immediately, there’s room to be optimistic, no matter how slight.

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