2012 NHL Lockout: Deadline for Possible Full Season Draws Near

The Oct. 25 deadline set by the NHL last week that would salvage a full 82-game season beginning Nov. 2 is drawing near and neither the league nor the NHL Players' Association have any plans to reconvene at this time.

According to USA Today, the two sides corresponded via telephone over the weekend, but "no bargaining meetings [have been] scheduled," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

Talks reached a crescendo last week when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presented a surprise offer to the NHLPA that would split hockey-related revenue at 50-50 and guarantee a full season despite the league canceling all games between Oct. 11 and Oct. 24 earlier this month.

The league's proposed collective bargaining agreement left players with a feeling of "cautious optimism," but two days later, the NHL rejected all three of the NHLPA's counter-proposals. Two of the offers featured a gradual step down to a 50-50 split of HRR, while the third featured an immediate 50-50 split if and only if the owners agreed to honor all player contracts signed under the last CBA, which expired Sept. 15.

The league, however, did not see the union's final offer that way.

“The so called 50-50 deal, plus honoring current contracts proposed by the NHL Players’ Association earlier today is being misrepresented," Daly said in a statement. "It is not a 50-50 deal. It is, most likely a 56- to 57-percent deal in Year One and never gets to 50 percent during the proposed five-year term of the agreement. The proposal contemplates paying the Players approximately $650 million outside of the Players’ Share. In effect, the Union is proposing to change the accounting rules to be able to say ’50-50,’ when in reality it is not.”

In Washington, Capitals forward Jason Chimera, who was one of just four remaining players who participated in an informal workout at Kettler Capitals Iceplex last Friday, was tentative when asked if he was optimistic about the chances of a full season.

“'Optimistic' is kind of a loose term,” he said. “It seems the boundaries are there to make a deal. If [the owners] said yes to honoring our contracts, it could probably get done in six hours.

"We don’t feel like we have to take a step back to take a step forward. We feel we can both take steps forward and we’ll both benefit from it.”

Meanwhile, Chimera's teammate, forward Alex Ovechkin, was not as hesitant, going as far as threatening to annul his NHL contract if it is "cut down greatly." Ovechkin, who has made such threats before, has nine years and $88 million remaining on his contract with Washington.

"I don’t think lockout will end soon," Ovechkin said to Russian reporters. "Bettman decided to throw the dust in our eyes because media isn’t talking about him very well lately. But actually the offer they gave is the same one, just in other words. A great person [Donald Fehr] is the head of the union with great experience. He’ll break it down, explain to us, and we’ll make the decision.

"If NHL bosses keep making us such 'profitable' offers, [the lockout] will last for a long time. We’re far from a compromise." 

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