Q: Are there any major philosophical issues such as a salary cap in dispute now?
A: No. Things are much more straightforward this time, but the sides can't agree on how to split up hockey-related revenue that reached a record $3.3 billion last season. This week, the union made an offer that was based on a framework the NHL had given, which included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue and a $393 million in a "make-whole" provision for players, who earned 57 percent of revenues in the collective bargaining agreement that expired in September. Because of that figure, guaranteed contracts would lift the players' share over 50 percent at the start of a new deal. The NHL offered $211 million as a "make-whole" provision in an offer last month that took into account a full 82-game-per-team schedule. Players previously proposed they receive a guaranteed amount of revenue each year. Management wants a seven-year deal, which the union says is too long because fewer than half the current players will be active by the last season. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said the sides were $182 million apart in a five-year deal, which comes to $1.2 million annually for each of the 30 teams. Commissioner Gary Bettman said the sides are much farther apart. Management wants to increase eligibility for free agency to 28 years of age or eight seasons of NHL service, up from 27 years or seven seasons. The owners also proposed adding a year of service for salary arbitration eligibility, hiking it from 1-4 to 2-5 years of service, depending on the age a player initially signs.
Q: Are the sides still talking?
A: After a week in which the sides got together multiple times over four consecutive days, they had an eight-day break before reconvening on Monday. They met again for about 2 1-2 hours on Wednesday before talks broke off. Negotiators spoke by phone on Friday before the NHL made its latest round of game cancellations and again on Saturday. Donald Fehr said there was chance they would speak again on Sunday or Monday.