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Report: NHL feels Fehr’s memo didn’t fairly portray their offer to players

Nov 9, 2012, 8:07 PM EDT

Fehr and Bettman AP

The NHL thinks Donald Fehr’s recent memo didn’t do a fair job of portraying their latest proposals to the players, according to multiple NHL sources that spoke to the Star Tribune.

In the memo, Fehr suggested that a “significant gap remains” in terms of the NHL’s “make whole” proposal, but the league believes it’s latest offer is essentially what the players have been demanding.

In exchange for immediately shifting hockey-related revenues to 50-50, the owners are willing to make deferred payments with interest to players for the money they’d be losing over Years 1 and/or 2 as a result of the change. That money will be given to the players in Year 3.

Those payments “would not go against their share and the league is guaranteeing it no matter where the revenue of the league goes,” a league source said.

It looks like the league’s logic is that by Year 3 the players will be getting the amount they signed for pre-lockout even after the reduction in their share of HRR because of an increase in league revenues.

In other words, NHL reportedly thinks that it has presented the league with a solution that would reduce HRR to an even split while still honoring the existing contracts.

Fehr also listed off in his memo a number of issues involving “crucial individual contracting rights,” which he said that the NHL is demanding that the union must agree to.

The league sources said that’s not true and that the NHL is willing to negotiate points like salary arbitration and unrestricted free agency eligibility. However, the NHL wants measures in place to limit each team’s ability to front-load contracts because it feels that teams have been using that tactic as a means to reduce their salary cap burden.

Another key sticking point right now is how much money the players would earn if the lockout were to end today. The NHLPA reportedly wants the players to get 100% of their 2012-13 salaries but, because of the lockout, the players won’t be doing 100% of the work and the league won’t generate the same amount of revenue. The NHL wants to give the players a prorated amount, so they would theoretically make 60 games worth of pay if the 2012-13 campaign is 60 games long.

That’s a lot to digest, but if it’s all accurate, it could be an indication that the sides are potentially closer than it appears. However, it still looks like there is plenty of work to do.

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