By Ben Raby
One day after the NHL Players Association shared its proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday that a wide gap remains between the NHL and the PA.
Bettman said last week that if a new CBA is not in place by Sept.15, the players will be locked out for the second time in eight years. That gives the two sides, who met for just over an hour Wednesday, exactly one month to work on a new deal.
"This is a process that we're going to continue to work hard on, Bettman told reporters in Toronto after Wednesdays negotiating session. I think there are still a number of issues where we're looking at the world differently."
In their offer yesterday, the players said that they are willing to sacrifice salary in an effort to support some of the Leagues financially weaker clubs.
Rather than have the NHLs annual salary cap be tied directly to the NHLs hockey related revenues (HRR), the players proposed that the salary cap increase by fixed rates in each of the first three years of the new CBA.
Based on the Leagues yearly growth of HRR (an average of seven percent annually), the players argue that the fixed rates theyre proposing for salary cap growth (two percent in year one, four percent in year two and six percent in year three) would provide the owners with greater profits.
The union went as far as suggesting that they would be sacrificing 465 million in salaries over the next three years if the Leagues annual HRR continues to grow at the same rate it has under the existing CBA. The players would like these funds to go towards additional revenue sharing among the 30 NHL clubs.
What the players did is indicate to the owners that if there are issues remaining, they are club specific issues, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said Wednesday.
If the clubs that dont need financial assistance are willing to partner with the players to help get at the issues of the clubs that may need it, were prepared to do that.
TSN hockey analyst Aaron Ward said Wednesday that the PAs proposal also included limits on non-player spending such as costs for a clubs coaching staff and management team.
The PA is also pitching the possibility of giving teams in financial trouble extra draft picks, and the option of trading or selling up to 4 million in salary cap space to another team.
Bettman said Wednesday that he was disappointed in the PAs proposal, which he described as incomplete and lacking responses to the owners original proposal they put forth in July.
Fehr is scheduled to meet with players over the next few days before meeting with Bettman again next Wednesday- at which point the two sides will have just over three weeks to sign a new CBA and avoid another lockout.