No one thought it would happen. Hockey fans were hanging up their jerseys with tears in their eye and saying good-bye to the NHL hockey season for 2012-2013. But yesterday, a ray of hope came from a most unlikely source — Gary Bettman and the NHL. Yesterday they put an offer on the table that looks good for the NHL, and great for fans. But how does it look for the players? That’s the big question, as they have until October 25 to accept the deal.
In short the highlights of the proposal were:
- A 50/50 split of revenues. This looks fair to the fans, but the players may still see it as the league simply coming up from their unreasonable 43%. The players could still hold stubbornly to the 57% that they want to keep from the old contract.
- A salary cap of $70.2 million, which is where it stood in the last contract.
- The league will increase the current $150 million they contribute to revenue sharing to $200 million to help support smaller and weaker teams.
- Contracts will be capped at 5 years.
- Minimum age for free agency would be moved up one year to 28, from the last age of 27 in the last contract.
- Entry-level contracts would be capped at two years, down from three years.
- AHL contracts to be eliminated from HRR ledger.
- Season would begin on November 2!
The only real problem players could have with this is the contract cap of 5 years. If they do, it will most likely only because some players like to guarantee a certain city for their own retirement. With a deal sounding this fair, and a full season still a possibility, players are likely to lose a lot of fan support if they turn down the deal. However, that doesn’t always mean that they won’t.
During a press conference yesterday, Bettman stated that to still continue on with a regular season, it would mean one extra game added about every five weeks. The league is hesitant to add any more, so as not to tire or endanger player’s health and safety.
That being said, if the players don’t agree to this deal, those jerseys can most likely be hung up after all.