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The “Make Whole” Provision: CBA Negotiations Carry On

The National Hockey League and the NHLPA have been carrying on some pretty decent negotiating sessions as of late. A new round of talks started on Wednesday afternoon, following a Tuesday session that apparently stretched “deep into the night.”

On Wednesday’s session, it was expected that the two sides would focus on the “make whole” provision. Hammering that out would go a long way with respect to solving this whole collective bargaining agreement process.

The silence from both sides with regard to how they carry on in the press has to be seen as a good sign. The league has even requested that both sides effectively “go underground,” pushing negotiations to an undisclosed location.

Now, there appears to be some sort of agreement on the fact that the next CBA will find the player share of revenue sit at about the 50 percent mark. The thrust of the NHLPA’s argument at this point appears to be that all of the contracts agreed to under the most recent CBA (the expired one) will be paid out in full – or “made whole.” Under the previous system, the players’ share of revenue sat at 57 percent.

The NHLPA has taken the concession on revenue – again – and, due to the fact that the league is more profitable as a whole, believes that it should be able to see contracts honoured.

As for the league, they’ve pushed for changes to entry level deals, the arbitration process, contract lengths (five years), and how unrestricted free agency plays out.

“The players’ view has always been that we ought to keep negotiating until we find a way to get an agreement,” said NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. “You sort of stay at it day by day…so it’s very good to be getting back to the table. We hope that this time it produces more progress than we’ve seen in the past and we can figure out a way to make an agreement and to get the game back on the ice as soon as possible.”

It’s probable that the NHL will concede a couple of points to get a deal done too, like with the contract lengths (some owners clearly seem to enjoy long-term deals). And the league may pull back from unrestricted free agency, too, with designs on gunning for entry level deals. There has been some talk of issues like AHL salaries counting on the salary cap (somewhat) while the bonuses don’t hit the cap floor, for instance, but there may be ample wiggle room there to get a deal done.

While many have given up on the current NHL season and seemingly on hockey in general like a tween girl finding out Justin Bieber has a girlfriend, there are reasons for the rest of us to be hopeful. There is a lot of work to be done, but, with some issues actually on the negotiating table and negotiations carrying on in secret locations with lots of Chinese food lying around, it’s possible that this could be read as good news.

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