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Is There Hope for the NHL? Talks Progress with Cautious Optimism for Fans

The entire labor dispute between the NHL and the NHLPA has been up and down ever since things started getting serious in September. So it should come as no surprise that the new format of talks — those going on strictly between the owners and the players — has gone much the same way of a rollercoaster. But yesterday, after things nearly broke apart completely once again, cooler heads prevailed and things started to come together. Or so it may seem.

When talks broke late last night, the two sides had come to an agreement on some very key issues, and the league had yet another offer out on the table. According to Sportsnet, the league has increased the amount they’re offering on the make whole money from $211 million to $300 million. This allows there to be the 50/50 split the players have been asking for all along, yet how that transition would be made is still unknown. That’s good news for fans, as that was one of the key issues and even small movement on it is a positive sign.

Another key issue were the free agency rules and arbitration rights, something else the league conceded on. After yesterday’s meeting, it seems as though they’ll keeping the free agency rules and arbitration rights as they were in the prior contract, as the players had requested.

But it’s not all good news.

The league is not willing to budge on the five-year contract limit, with no more than a 5 per cent variance in salary in any given year. This eliminates the contracts that pay players huge amounts of money at the beginning of the contract, and often at the beginning of their career when they’re healthiest, and then much smaller amounts towards the end of the contract, and the end of the player’s career. Players have also been adamant on not giving this to the league, so it will be interesting to see what movement is made on that point.

Finally, the league would like the next CBA to stand for 10 years, and the players would like to see that set to 5 years. The fans may actually want to lean towards the owners on that one, as very few would like to be facing this same situation five years down the road.

As it stands, according to Sportsnet, the league currently have an offer on the table and are waiting to hear back from the players. After their very lengthy meeting yesterday that went into the wee hours of the morning, the two sides will meet again today.

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