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Donald Fehr: Owners still want 50/50 in Year 1, sticking to contract restrictions

Getty ImagesHey, you know what really makes labor negotiations more contentious and stressful? Leaked memos!

Pro Hockey Talk and TSN were given one, as Donald Fehr caught up the membership on Thursday's talks.

How are things going? Progress, but also some significant roadblocks:

In addition, we received a revamped proposal covering players' share and cap issues, their so-called "make whole", and player contracting issues.  The owners finally did formally give us their "make whole" idea, which in dollar terms is similar to the discussions Bill Daly had with Steve Fehr a few days ago.  While a step forward, a significant gap remains.

Moreover, at the same time we were told that the owners want an "immediate reset" to 50/50 (which would significantly reduce the salary cap) and that their proposals to restrict crucial individual contracting rights must be agreed to.  As you know, these include — among other things — losing a year of salary arbitration eligibility, allowing the team to file for salary arbitration in any year that the player can file, extending UFA eligibility to age 28 or 8 seasons, limiting contracts to 5 years, and permitting only 5% year to year variability in player contracts.

Individually each is bad for players; taken together they would significantly reduce a player's bargaining power and give the owner much more leverage over a player for most if not all of his career.

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That last part is essential: The NHLPA would be willing to take some of the bad, but not all of it. And that's consistent with what we've heard for weeks: Certain contractual demands from the NHL (like the extension of UFA eligibility) are likely non-negotiable. But the contract term limit that's on the table … well, color us shocked if there's actually a five-year cap in the next CBA.

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