Mathieu Schneider, Special Assistant to the NHLPA Executive Director, says the NHLPA has moved in each proposal/counter.
"In each proposal that we've brought forward, we have moved," Schneider said. "We're the only ones that have been giving in this entire negotiation. Everything that they have put forward takes more from the players; on the contracting issues, on the straight share of the revenue and that's the frustrating part for the players. Our next offer will be giving more back to the owners, they're next offer will be taking more from the players."
One of the issues in negotiations thus far has been the division of hockey-related revenues. With early proposals from the league believed to have redefined hockey-related revenue, the most recent is believed to operate on the terminology used in the existing CBA.
"We started off with them asking for $450 million per year and now they're at $330 million per year," Schneider says. "My question is: what are we supposed to do in this situation?"
"We're giving the owners an opportunity to grow themselves out of their problems," Schneider said in reference to the PA's proposals to date. "We want them to recognize what we've put on the table. Over the next five years, our last offer could give them over $1 billion in concessions if they grow the game. For them to dismiss the seven per cent growth rate, I think, is a little ridiculous."
Schneider believes the concessions made to reach the previous deal were in part what has led to the existing problems in negotiations.
"We've had record revenues, record growth of the game, record attendance," Schneider said, "and still we're sitting here today in a system that the owners designed."
"We don't want to be sitting here going through this again in four years, which is where we think we'll be operating under the current system."
As more players departed for Europe, preparations are being made by the NHL to announce in the next couple of days the cancellation of the first wave of exhibition games, which were scheduled to start Sunday with the Ottawa Senators visiting the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
There are 10 exhibition games scheduled for Monday, including the Senators at the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres at Montreal, the unique idea of split squads of Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames each hosting a game against each other and the Winnipeg Jets at the Edmonton Oilers.
As things stands now, all those games are in peril.
The NHLPA's proposal calls for "small, but fixed increases in pay for the players over a five-year proposed collective bargaining agreement.
In the first three years of the CBA, the players would get $1.91 billion, $1.98 billion and $2.1 billion, which represents a share of revenue of 54.3 per cent, 52.5 per cent and 52 per cent. This assumes that hockey related revenue or HRR (the revenue pie shared with the players) continues to grow at the usual or historic 7.1 per cent rate.
The NHLPA is also proposing a twist in years four and five of the CBA: the players would get $2.1 billion plus 54 per cent of the growth in revenue in years four and five of the CBA.
Under the NHLPA's plan, the player share of revenue never drops below 52 per cent and tops out at 54.3 per cent. Again, this assumes steady seven per cent growth.