After several weeks of silence in NHL lockout talks, the league made movement Friday morning in a new offer sent to the NHLPA, according to several reports. The league offer comes five days before a union deadline that could bring the dissolution of the NHLPA and throw the ongoing labor dispute over a cliff.
Despite Gary Bettman's insistence weeks ago that the owners had moved as far as they could, details of the offer reported by ESPN.com show that the league again moved toward the players.
The Make Whole provision will remain at $300 million despite Bettman saying it was off the table weeks ago. The league has offered year-to-year salary variance of 10 percent versus the five percent from previous offers, and they've also moved closer to the players' position on contract term limits, offering six year contract limits for free agents. Previous offers had a five-year limit. The owners have proposed a $60 million salary cap for the 2013 season.
The league's new offer also includes a compliance buyout option. Teams would be allowed to buyout one contract before the 2013-14 season, according to the report, and that contract wouldn't count against the salary cap.
The next step? An NHLPA response. The Globe & Mail reports that the NHLPA will hold a conference call on Friday afternoon to update its membership. If this offer leads to more negotiation or a player vote, there could be traction here. If not, that Jan. 2 deadline still looms and the union could dissolve, potentially leading to antitrust lawsuits and another layer of legal mess.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Morning News reports that the owners are quietly aiming for a Jan. 19 start date with a week-long training camp prior to puck drop, and the Ottawa Sun reports that the owners have told Bettman behind closed doors that the cancellation of another season is unacceptable. So, again, we wait.