NHL lockout: League, union quiet after discussing revenue sharing, 'make whole' provision

Bruce Bennett

The NHL and the NHLPA spent another five and a half hours speaking on Wednesday in New York, and they'll meet again on Thursday.

The NHL and NHLPA met for another five and half hours Wednesday, and after talks at an undisclosed location in snowy New York City, neither side would delve into details.

"The NHL's negotiating committee met with representatives of the NHLPA for approximately five and a half hours today," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement released by the NHL. "Meetings are scheduled to resume tomorrow. We do not intend to comment on the substance or subject matter of today's negotiations."

"The NHLPA and the NHL met today to discuss many of the key issues," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said in a statement. "We look forward to resuming talks tomorrow."

The silence feels like a good thing. After previous bargaining sessions in both Manhattan and Toronto, each side dramatically appeared in front of media mobs to spin talks, spill details and spew rhetoric. But that hasn't been the case this week -- not after long sessions on Saturday evening, Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday evening.

Some details did still leak. Reports indicated that Wednesday's talks revolved around revenue sharing, an important player issue, and the league's "make whole" provision, the issue on which the 2012-13 season could hinge.

The NHLPA is pushing for a more robust revenue-sharing system, ultimately angling for the league's big market, revenue-making clubs to financially assist clubs in struggling markets like Phoenix and Florida. The players believe that without revenue sharing, the league will try to fix problems in those markets by taking money out of the players' share.

The make whole provision is the league's plan to honor existing contracts despite a drop in the players' share of revenue, from 57 percent in the previous CBA to around 50 percent in the new CBA. Players have balked at the proposal, saying that as written, they'll be essentially paying out of their own 50 percent share to earn full value on their current contracts.

The league reportedly tinkered with the plan late last week, but it still remains to be seen how the sides will make this work. Honoring existing contracts is the biggest issue to the NHLPA, and there's no doubt that this will be the core issue as talks continue in New York on Thursday.

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