NHL lockout 2012: NHLPA proposal seemingly draws deal closer to reality

Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Despite a mountain of rhetoric on Thursday, the NHLPA put forth a new CBA proposal, and it appears the sides are closer than they've ever been.

After a frustrating Thursday that saw owners pack up and leave New York City with pessimism growing from all sides, Donald Fehr stepped to the lectern and dropped nothing but sunshine: We're almost there, guys.

"The players responded comprehensively to the various issues that have been brought up at the meetings over last few days," Fehr said while flanked by a number of NHL players at the Westin Times Square.

Perhaps more important than any other issue, Fehr said that the union believes there is now "complete agreement on dollars" -- both in "make whole" payments and in pension dollars that will come off the players side.

Owners proposed $300 million in "make whole" or transition payments designed to ease the players' burden from the previous CBA to the current CBA. $50 million of that would go to cover pension costs, and it appears as though the union has agreed to those terms.

The NHLPA has proposed an eight-year term for the new CBA with an opt-out option after six years. The league on Wednesday has proposed a 10-year term with an opt-out after eight. The gap there is close to being bridged.

On contractual issues which have been a sticking point for the union, Fehr said that the players came closer to the league's desired five-year minimum contract term.

With movement on nearly every issue, the tense feelings of doom and gloom that hung over the NHL for much of the day have evaporated. Of course, we've been on this ride before and it remains to be seen how the league will respond, but the sides definitely seem very close to agreement.

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