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NHL

NHL Lockout: Optimism Slowly Beginning To Spread

Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

The tide is finally beginning to turn in a positive direction for anyone associated with the NHL.

There’s still a long way to go, but it looks like the owners took a step in the right direction with their latest proposal to the players, with revenue sharing being the biggest turnaround. Economics have been the biggest hold up in this entire process, and were looking like the factor that would kill the season.

Those still have yet to be figured out entirely, but it looks like we may have a basis for some discussion (and perhaps a little compromise). The biggest step is that 50/50 revenue sharing. Owners had been reluctant to give the players much, but this is a huge step.

There are some other intriguing aspects of this as well. Perhaps the most intriguing is the fact that contracts in the AHL may also start to count against the cap. That means you can’t bury a player with a terrible contract in the minors any longer. Now if you have a player who you want to bury and need to reach the cap floor, then this would be great news for you.

The salary cap could come in at just under $60 million, but there would be a much higher cap for the first year, more in the $70 million range. Then, of course, entry-level contracts are looking at potential changes, with two-year deals instead of three. And then there’s the issue of the back-loaded contracts.

Now, obviously not all of the ideas that the NHL put forth in their proposal are going to fly. Plenty will be changed, and we can likely expect a counter proposal within the next 48 hours or so.

Out of all of those details, one of the biggest storylines is the fact that the league is still looking at a potential 82 game schedule. That’s huge. Should they find a way to come to an agreement in the next week or so, the season would begin on November 2nd (about the time frame I’ve been holding out hope for). There’s no word on if the schedule would play out with games added at the end, or whether it’d be modified, but 82 games could be expected.

Everyone is “cautiously optimistic” right now. But this is a gigantic step in the right direction, and we could be looking at having a season after all. There’s still plenty of work to do, but with the players seeing this as the pleasant surprise that they do, we could be in for some real negotiating for the next week. Time to buckle down and hammer this thing out.