Gary Bettman, NHL respond to NHLPA offer: 'Sides are far apart'

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com
Gary Bettman said the owners understand the NHLPA proposal, they just don't love it. (Getty Images)

The NHL took a day to digest the NHLPA's first offer in Collective Bargaining Agreement talks and said the sides are still not on the same page at all.

"The sides are far apart and have different views of the world," Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Wednesday. "It takes two sides to make a deal, two sides to negotiate and two sides to make it go bad."

Well, so much for that growing sense of optimism I was feeling after Tuesday's offer was made. There were some pleasant surprises it seemed in the proposal such as keeping the salary cap and at least a decent foundation to start working toward an agreement.

Doesn't seem to be the case so much now.

Bettman also noted that the NHL was still (impatiently) waiting to receive the full proposal from the players, an offer that deals with the smaller but still important details of a CBA. Remember, it's not just all about the revenue and main infrastructure, other issues such as discipline to Olympic participation will be discussed.

So there we go, each side has made an offer and they are "far apart" with exactly a month to go before the CBA expires and we enter lockout territory once again.

Just how far apart, specifically? Michael Grange of Sportsnet helped articulate that.

Assuming league revenues grow by seven per cent annually, the owners' proposal last month would pay the players $6.79 billion over the next four years by cutting the players' share of HRR to 43.3 per cent.

Under the players' plan, they would get a minimum of $8.53 billion in that period.

There was a reason Fehr referred to the gap in the two sides' positions as a "meaningful gulf" last week. The price tag on that gulf is about $1.74 billion.

Nobody expected that the owners were going to fall in love with the first proposal from the players and accept it. That would have been ludicrous. But I at least thought we had some common ground that was established and there were some new and what I thought creative ideas to help fix the problems that plague the NHL, in particular an increase in revenue sharing.

Instead, the owners are looking more for a deal that looks like what the NFL and NBA just struck in the past year ... i.e. a 50/50 revenue split or something even more favorable. Although I'd like to point out that they also have soft caps and pretty extensive revenue sharing, but I digress.

Of course that suggestion from Beggman has one big omission, which Donald Fehr wasted no time in pointing out: MLB, the one that Fehr had a large hand in developing and that has kept the labor unrest out of baseball for a relative eternity.

Then Fehr's comments got a bit more biting. He wondered if there are problems now perhaps it could be because of the system that's currently in place? Seems logical enough. Moreover, that gap? It's only so big because of where the owners began their posturing.

I don't know about you, but that's not sounding too cordial anymore, especially with just 31 days to go. We're staring right down the barrel of a lockout and everybody knows it, Fehr and the players included.

"You hope for the best but prepare for the worst," Fehr said.

Oh, and now the heads from each side won't meet again for another week until next Wednesday.

Just to make you feel a little better, this is how Fehr left things.

Buckle up, folks.

More from Eye on Hockey

Report: NHLPA includes ability to trade cap space
Stubits: Fehr pushing all the right buttons
NHLPA makes first offer that includes cap

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