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Can NHL’s ‘make whole’ makeover to players lead to lockout’s end?

Getty ImagesCalling the NHL's movement on the "make whole" proposal a "concession" is a stretch.

Honoring the players' current contracts should be an obligation rather than a point of conciliation. Plus, we're not entirely sure making your own proposal more equitable to the other side a sign of compromise; isn't it a sign that the initial proposal was inadequate?

[Related: Don't get fooled again by false CBA hopes; 30 NHL team updates]

Nevertheless, the NHL this week agreed to define its proposal to honor those contracts in the next CBA with the "make whole" mechanism. From Darren Dreger of TSN:

The league amended a proposal made last month to shift the cost of the NHL-designed 'make whole' provision from the players share over to the owners side.

The concept of "Make Whole" is a protection plan to cover player salary reduction in dropping the players revenue share from 57 per cent to 50 per cent in Year 1 of a new CBA.  The NHL proposal included a deferred payment system which the league is also willing to reconsider when negotiations resume.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC thinks the players are going to have some questions about this new twist in the talks:

But the NHLPA is going to have some hard questions, including: What exactly does "ownership" mean -- some of it or all of it? What is the formula going to be? And, most importantly, what do we have to accept in order for you to do this? If the answer is "everything else we've proposed," we're going to have a problem.

The players will have to agree to some facets of the NHL's most recent proposal, but there's plenty of room for movement on contract term and escrow, for example. Can they come down to 50/50 on revenue more quickly if the make whole burden is shared? Really, the essential question: Will the NHLPA work under the framework of that deal?

The cancellation of the Winter Classic had to happen, but it also upped the ante on the season's future. Substantive talks have to begin again. The sides aren't far apart on several issues. But can they get past the bitterness to work out a deal and end this lockout nonsense?

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