NHL CBA Update: Resume Thy Spinning

The guy over there.

In the NHL's CBA negotiations -- which I'm sure have you riveted, no doubt glued to your screen -- yesterday was the counter-proposal, the "let's work together" outreach from the owners. Wisely, neither side characterized that offer to media then.

But today, after the NHLPA was able to review it and the NHL was able to hear their reaction, the spinning resumed.

That's not a bad development necessarily, but it's clear Gary Bettman and company now believe they need to defend their counter-proposal and counter the limited public comments coming from the PA.

The gist of today's facts is that the two sides met as a small crew again (the Fehrs on one side, the loathing Bettman and Daly on the other), the owners want to move the goalposts to get a bigger piece of revenue (whether that comes from a lower cap, more escrow, or rollback, they don't much care), and the PA wants more information about how the latest proposal affects specific teams before they respond tomorrow.

How you suspect they'll respond may be divined from some of the spin coming out this afternoon, which we'll relay in Tweets from the poor saps assigned to sit outside the meeting rooms until the talking heads come out for a spin:

In a nutshell: The league still wants to reset the revenue starting line. The players want assurances the league will grow revenue wisely (and not hide it) before they agree to any cap or HRR or escrow rollback.

Fehr(s) on the NHL

Bettman on the NHL Offer

Interestingly, both sides prefer not to negotiate "through the media" but today are clearly marking why they think the latest proposal is good or bad. They may be bickering over details in the media, but at least they're talking.

Philosophically, Bettman's somewhat defensive response to media may be the most interesting for discussion, because it gets to the heart of what all this madness is about:

"You need to consider what's fair because we run the league at 43% of the revenues."

This is a reference to the players currently receiving 57% of hockey revenue (which itself, we have seen, can be defined in many ways). It's a cry from the money men, a lament from the billionaires who don't do the entertaining but do essentially carry the financial risk. Bettman also made a point to say that although they agreed in the last CBA to let the player share grow to 57% once revenues hit a certain level, they didn't agree to that "in perpetuity."

Everyone has their own view of how important each party is in this saga -- just like fans have different views of how much a fourth-liner should be paid.

The converse to "we run the league" is the old fan complaint, "But I don't pay money to watch the owners." But of course the players couldn't drive up their own salaries if there weren't well-heeled and slightly sports-obsessed owners who can to pay them, which in turn just takes more money out of fans' pockets anyway.

It's a mutually beneficial relationship to squeeze money out of hockey addicted fans. Now, as ever, they're just squabbling over who gets the nicer cut.

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