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07-28-2012, 07:56 PM
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On the surface, talks between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association on a new collective bargaining agreement have so far been civil. That’s largely because the NHLPA has taken the high road when it comes to responding to the owners’ first proposal. There has been no gag order placed on the players, which makes it that much more remarkable that not a single one has said or tweeted a disparaging word about the NHL’s position.

As you would imagine, behind closed doors, things are not quite as cordial. The players’ side has taken umbrage to the owners’ first offer and while it has not accused the league of bargaining in bad faith, it wants to know the rationale for the owners’ position before making a counter-proposal of its own. The way the players figure, the owners’ position is tantamount to the players demanding 68 percent of all revenues in their first proposal. That’s an 11 percent increase in their take, which is the equivalent to what the owners want to cut.
But if those reading the tea leaves are to be believed, commissioner Gary Bettman is holding a negotiating card that he has yet to play (and may never have to play) that would be a direct and significant blow to the NHLPA.

The threat of contraction, at least on a temporary basis, is very real and could become very much in play as these negotiations continue. Bettman may not be able to justify the need for a bigger share of revenues, term limits on contracts and increasing the age for unrestricted free agency with the fiscal insanity we’ve seen this summer, but he might be able to do so if he can convince the NHLPA that the Phoenix Coyotes will shut their doors if the league doesn’t get what it wants and the season doesn’t start on time.
Just an commentary article by Ken Campbell. You decide what to make of it.

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