The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Dealing with shortened season emerges as new issue in NHL's CBA talks

  • Print

NEW YORK, N.Y. - With the NHL lockout heading into its ninth week, a new issue has cropped up at the negotiating table.

In addition to sorting out the division of revenue and player contracting rules, the NHL and NHL Players' Association must also decide how to deal with the financial implications of playing a shortened schedule once an agreement is reached.

"It has an impact (on talks)," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr acknowledged Friday night.

That hadn't been a concern as recently as late last month, when the league believed an 82-game season could still be squeezed in. Now it's looking like the best-case scenario is a regular season beginning on Dec. 1, which would likely see each team play just 68 games.

If that ends up being the case, a total of 210 games — and all of the accompanying revenue — would be lost for good. When you couple that with the undeniable damage another lockout has inflicted on the NHL's overall business, it's clear that whatever can be salvaged of the 2012-13 season won't generate anywhere near as much as the record US$3.3-billion brought in last year.

The issue reared its head this week when the sides exchanged offers, not to mention some harsh words, while failing to gain any real traction during five straight days of meetings. That included an informal session over lunch on Saturday which attempted to move the process forward after Friday's meeting ended with a heated exchange across the bargaining table.

According to Fehr, the NHLPA is pushing for the sides to draft the framework of a CBA as though a full season is going to be played before later determining how to account for the shortened schedule in Year 1. The offer put forward by the union on Wednesday called for the players' share to jump in fixed increments of 1.75 per cent each season starting from the $1.883-billion they took in collectively last year.

That would put the starting point at $1.915-billion for the 2012-13 season — subject to any reduction for cancelled games that would need to be worked out.

"Based on their reaction (Friday), for some reason that I don't quite understand, they're unwilling to do that," said Fehr.

A request for comment from deputy commissioner Bill Daly wasn't immediately returned on Saturday.

The NHL would prefer to work off percentages rather than fixed increases because they come with built-in protection, particularly if business is slow to recover from the lockout. Its latest offer stuck with a 50-50 split of revenues across the board and promised the players US$211-million in deferred payments, plus two per cent interest, to cover anticipated losses to escrow over the first two years while the league transitioned from a system that paid out 57 per cent in salaries.

However, the NHLPA estimates that it would take $590-million in extra payments to cover all existing deals — an assertion that reflects the union's belief that players signed beyond 2013-14 should be "made whole" outside of the system and includes their full salaries (based on an 82-game season) for the current year.

That's where things get tricky.

As each day ticks by, the damage to the sport gets a little bit worse and the potential schedule gets tightened a little bit more. There had been some within the league who entered the week hoping a deal could be reached in time to drop the puck as early as Nov. 21 — the day before U.S. Thanksgiving — a starting point that would have allowed for a 74-game season, according to multiple sources.

Barring an unforeseen breakthrough in the days ahead, that will be the next projected target to fall by the wayside.

So while the "make whole" provision and rules governing players contracts need to be worked out, so too will the transition out of the lockout itself. A slew of cancellations have been made since it was enacted on Sept. 15, and the fight is now over a different sum of money than when negotiations began.

And the pot will only keep getting smaller.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Selinger addresses stadium lawsuit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • A Canada goose flies towards the sun near the Perimeter Highway North and Main St Monday afternoon – See Day 10 for Bryksa’s 30 goose project - May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google