Could the NHL finally be on the verge of a major breakthrough that will jump-start the 2012-2013 season?
The NHL has made a new proposal on a collective bargaining agreement for the NHL Players Association to consider, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed Friday. While Daly offered no specifics, media sources said the proposal would offer a compromise on contracting demands previously made the league, change the year-to-year salary variance previously proposed, and allow one contract compliance buyout per team before the 2013-2014 season that would not count against the team's salary cap.
"We are not prepared to discuss the details of our proposal at this time," Daly said in a statement released by the league. "We are hopeful that once the Union's staff and negotiating committee have had an opportunity to thoroughly review and consider our new proposal, they will share it with the players. We want to be back on the ice as soon as possible."
The NHLPA was to discuss the proposal in a Friday afternoon conference call with the players.
Details of the proposal were reported Friday by TSN and EPSN.com, among other media outlets. The Canadian Press reported the NHL made the proposal contingent on it being accepted by Jan. 11 and the season starting by Jan. 19.
The NHL had been proposing a maximum five-year limit on new contracts (seven years for a team re-signing one of its own players). Daly even said the contract demand, for the league and NHL owners, would be "the hill we die on."
The new offer would be for six-year contracts (still seven years for re-signings). The union has proposed eight-year contracts.
The league had proposed a five-percent variance in year-to-year salary during the course of a contract, but is said to be willing to move to 10 percent, closer to the variance the players have been asking for.
The players have been insistent on the league honoring existing contracts as part of a new CBA. The league proposed a make-whole provision in which the players would receive deferred compensation and again has offered to put in $300 million to help fund that compensation.
The NHL has canceled all games through Jan. 14, including the Winter Classic. There was hope, however, if the season could be started by mid-January that a 48-game schedule could be played, then the Stanley Cup playoffs.
As of noon Friday, no collective bargaining meetings have been scheduled. There have been no meetings since Dec. 13.