This week has been full of optimism from everyone still following the on-going battle to see a resolution to the NHL lockout. The lockout that has now claimed the first month of the season. This week the NHLPA and the NHL met four times and for the first time in weeks it seems that for once both sides were actually negotiating rather than giving each other ultimatums.
However, after the negotiations that lasted nearly 20 hours, through Tuesday-Thursday ,showed much promise the meeting that lasted 4.5 hours on Friday has put a damper on what looked to have been an impending solution to the lockout. The biggest issue that seems to be keeping both sides from coming up with a deal is the proposed "make whole" aspect. "Make whole" is what the players have been arguing for since the beginning of negotiations, it outlines the belief that players should have the contracts that they are currently signed to honoured in full.
The NHL is hoping to put caps on both how much players can make a year and also a cap of 5 years as the max length players can be signed to under one contract. So, with these new rules being pushed by the NHL, the NHL has suggested it would like to avoid paying the players the money that have already been signed to. The NHL also wants to fix the ways some players have structured their contracts lately. In the past few years we have seen the likes of Ilya Kovalchuck and Shea Weber to name a few, structure their contracts in a way where contracts exceed 10 years and see players get paid large amounts in the beginning of the contract and then lower amounts towards the end. These contracts have not been taken kindly by the NHL and the owners because they realize that in many of these cases the players will not play the entire duration of the contract, but will still continue to be paid.
The negotiations this week were looking very promising, TSN's James Duthie even tweeted Wednesday night saying someone who had been in the room during the talks said "there's potential". These thoughts have since gone down hill.
Another source of controversy that came out of the meetings this week was the accusation that NHLPA director Donald Fehr had been withholding information from the players, such as proposals that NHL had made. This has been since been dismissed by both Fehr and several players.
All in all this week was a positive to many as at least both sides continue to negotiate and try to hammer out a deal, but until then fans will wait anxiously with the hopes that a deal is a lot closer than it was a week ago.
For an in-depth look at the meetings and the concept of "make whole" check out TSN insider Pierre Lebrun's view on this week's meetings.
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