NEW YORK - The National Hockey today released the following regarding negotiations with the National Hockey League Players' Association toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement:
THE NHL IS PREPARED TO NEGOTIATE 24/7 TO REACH AN AGREEMENT BY SEPTEMBER 15
• The NHL has been, and remains, committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement by September 15.
• Today, across the bargaining table, the NHL confirmed what it has told Union leadership repeatedly since November, 2011: Absent a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, 2012 training camps will not open.
• A new Agreement can be achieved by September 15 if the Union is serious about making a deal by that date.
A NEW CBA IS NEEDED
• While the NHL fully honored the existing agreement and has lived with it for seven years, the League and the 30 Clubs are not willing to operate any longer under the economics of the current CBA.
• Over the past seven seasons, and in the face of a recession, NHL revenues have increased significantly through the growth of all business platforms (sponsorships, events, media), and the Players have benefitted correspondingly, with the average player salary increasing from $1.45 million to $2.45 million.
• Over the same time period, however, operating expenses -- many of which are Player-related --have also increased dramatically. As a result, the overall division of League-generated revenues needs to be adjusted.
• The Salary Cap System also needs adjustment in order to remedy distortions that have developed over time, and in order to operate as the parties had originally contemplated and intended. For example, it makes no sense for Clubs and Players to be able to enter into long-term contracts that completely subvert the intent of the Salary Cap System.
• The collective bargaining agreements recently entered into by the owners and Players in the NFL and NBA much more closely reflect today's economic realities in professional sports. The Players and Unions in those two sports have obviously recognized the necessary dynamics required for financial stability in major league sports today.
NHL'S INITIAL PROPOSAL INCLUDES INCREASED REVENUE SHARING
• Under the current CBA, there has been meaningful revenue sharing for the last seven years. Revenue sharing by itself, however, is not a solution to solving the League's economic issues.
• In 2011-12, NHL revenue sharing will total in excess of $150 million -- more than the NBA and commensurate with revenue sharing in MLB (despite a significant disparity between the NHL's Hockey Related Revenues and the gross revenues in the other leagues).
• The League's initial proposal would increase total revenue sharing to approximately $190 million (and more, as League revenues continue to increase), as well as enhancing its positive and balancing effects by being made available to a larger number of teams.
THE NHL'S SENSE OF URGENCY
• In the summer of 2011, the League advised the NHLPA of its desire to start negotiating. The Union's response was that it was not prepared to do so at that time.
• Throughout the fall of 2011, the NHLPA repeatedly advised the League that it would be ready to begin negotiations after All-Star Weekend. As the date approached, the Union shifted course, saying it was not ready to do so.
• In April 2012, the Union informed the League it would be ready to begin negotiations during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As the Playoffs began and progressed, however, the NHLPA once again made no effort to begin the process.
• The first formal negotiating session finally took place on June 29, 2012 -- almost a full year after the League initially offered to engage.
NHLPA HAS BEEN RELUCTANT TO ADDRESS THE KEY ISSUES
• Since negotiations began, the NHL has delivered a full slate of proposals to the NHLPA. Yet, nearly a month after tabling its critical economic proposals on July 13, the League is still waiting to receive a substantive response or counterproposal on those issues.
NHLPA's REDUNDANT AND UNNECESSARY REQUESTS
• The documents requested by the Union on July 13, numbering in the hundreds of thousands of pages, are not necessary for the Union to respond to the League's economic proposals. We have nevertheless already produced approximately 200,000 pages of financial documents, and our production of the requested materials remains ongoing.
• The Union could have asked for this information at any time during the past year. Everyone knew that overall League economics (and the division of revenues as between the Clubs and the Players) would be a critical element of this negotiation, just as it was in the NFL and NBA negotiations completed last season.
• For seven seasons, the Union has had certified financial information pertaining to hockey-related revenues (HRR). The manner in which this information was produced and checked for accuracy was pursuant to agreed upon procedures between the NHL and NHLPA, and there never has been a material objection to the information reported by the League or the Clubs.
• At the Union's request, the League has also produced Unified Report of Operations (URO) information (which includes Club expenses and is reviewed by each Club's outside accountants), spanning a period of seven years. This information was provided to the Union during the Winter and Spring of 2012.
• During the past year, the Union has sent auditors to 15 different Clubs to further verify the accuracy of financial information.
THE STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS
• The NHLPA could have terminated this CBA after four years but chose not to. The CBA was scheduled to expire after six years (after the 2010-11 season) but the Union chose to exercise its one-time option to extend the agreement for a seventh season.
• The CBA expires according to its express terms on September 15, 2012. While no doubt the NHLPA would like to continue under the terms of the current Agreement, it has no right to compel the League and the Clubs to continue to operate under the terms of an expired contract, particularly one that it is no longer fair or reflective of industry economics.
• This negotiation is not nearly as complicated as the Union is trying to make it seem.
• While the NHL's proposals are on the table, and have been for nearly a month, the Union has yet to offer any response on the most pressing economic issues despite having more than enough information (financial and otherwise) to advance and conclude this process.
• The NHL remains committed to negotiating a new CBA by September 15, and we are calling upon the Union and the Players to share the League's sense of urgency and commitment to that objective.