DETROIT -- The PR battle changed pretty dramatically Tuesday in the NHL lockout.
With no signs of anything cooking, the NHL issued a stunning and wholly unexpected new proposal to try to salvage a full 82-game season. The highlight was a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, still a big cut to the players but a point that virtually everyone agreed these negotiations would have to reach.
TSN is reporting, however, that NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr sent a letter to the players late Tuesday and is not optimistic about the proposal. That's not surprising as there are certainly going to be contentious points. The players, Fehr said, still take a $231 million hit in year one. Fehr & Co. will continue to dissect the deal and the players are scheduled to convene Thursday in Toronto, where we'll probably find out how much traction this deal really has.
Out here in baseball land, where the Tigers are just about done sweeping the Yankees out of the ALCS, there was plenty of talk at Comerica Park about the deal Tuesday night. This is, after all, a place dubbed "Hockeytown."
There are other points the players certainly won't like. Under the proposal, forget big second contracts in the Jeff Skinner or Taylor Hall vein. Entry-level deals go from three years to two and the free agency qualification would move from seven years service/27 years of age to 8/28.
The players aren't going to like the fact that guys stashed in AHL or loaned to Europe would now count against the cap. So no more deals like Wade Redden or, thinking close to home, Ales Kotalik or Shoane Morrisonn.
This proposal is not take-it-or-leave-it. It's a starting point. We now have negotiations. An offer likely to be met with a counteroffer. Not the this-is-what-you-must take tenor the league has been working under. It's a sign of hope. Does it mean there will be real hockey on Nov. 2? That's the goal. Now it's up to them to hash out a deal.