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Dreger: Common ground needed to advance CBA negotiations

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Darren Dreger
9/6/2012 6:13:47 PM
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There is risk of the entire 2012-2013 NHL season being wiped out.

Now that qualifies as fear mongering, but considering how entrenched both the league and the players' association are with less than 10 days until the expiration of the existing collective bargaining agreement, sources on both sides are accepting the loss of another season as a possibility.

Negotiations remain in a stalemate - with no plan to resume formal talks.

The NHL insists - for the health of the league - that players must be paid less. On the other side, the players' association contends that forcing players to take less doesn't solve the problems within the current system.

In short, the NHL Players' Association believes a new system is required.

However, negotiating an economic framework that works for both the owners and the players can't be done until both sides find some common ground.

A mutually agreed upon definition of what constitutes hockey related revenue (HRR) and how certain aspects impact the overall players' share is largely the foundation for a new CBA.

So in simple terms, it comes down to dollars and cents.

The players are willing to give, but do so over time. And they aren't interested in any ownership proposal that continues to push for an immediate correction.

A 50-50 split seems fair, but negotiating to get there will be a painstaking process.

Player contracts are also a huge concern for the NHL, with issues ranging from the diving salaries used to construct the mega-deals into cap reasonable numbers to entry-level contracts which the league would like to extend from three to five years.

Revenue sharing, arbitration, health and safety initiatives or negotiated changes to supplemental discipline are also all important elements in bargaining and chips that can be shuffled once a new economic framework is devised.

With no discussions planned, that's a tall order. And that leaves the fear mongers who once again project hockey's version of Armageddon on solid ground.

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