Jets fans hope NHL proposal will clinch start of hockey season
Fans of the Winnipeg Jets received some encouraging news Tuesday with the NHL tabling a new offer that could potentially end the hockey lockout.
"We believe that this was a fair offer for a long-term deal and it's one that we hopes gets a positive reaction so that we can drop the puck on Nov. 2," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
The NHL said it hopes the new offer will salvage a full season.
Neither side had made a formal proposal since Sept. 12, and this one came with a heightened sense of urgency from Bettman.
The league estimated that Nov. 2 is the latest it could start an 82-game regular season that would see the Stanley Cup awarded before the end of June.
The potential breakthrough was welcomed by some downtown Winnipeg businesses.
“Just having them talk and communicate – anything positive is good for a sports bar,” said Oreanna Cheater, CEO of 4Play Sports Bar.
Sean MacDonald, a labour relations expert at University of Manitoba, said negotiations could still take time to reach a deal.
“I think there (are) still a few more rounds for this to play out,” he said.
MacDonald said the NHL Players' Association will likely submit a counter proposal.
"I think it's going to be a while and Gary Bettman thinks that things will be going by Nov. 2 - that is very optimistic based on the amount of ground they need to cover,” said MacDonald.
The NHLPA said it hopes the offer is the starting point towards negotiating a deal, but it can’t say for sure.
“In the process that we will engage in now, as you might expect, is that we read it completely and thoroughly," said Donald Fehr from the NHLPA.
The union met with players Tuesday afternoon to go over the deal. The NHLPA said it wouldn’t be commenting further on Oct. 16.
Bettman said he thinks the negotiations can be worked out over the next eight to nine days in order to get the season started by Nov. 2.
Jets fans who spoke to CTV News Tuesday said they’re hopefully, but want confirmation the season will go ahead.
“Can’t hold my breath and hope for something that’s not for sure yet,” said Lee Dean.
Other fans hoped the players will buy into the deal.
“Accept it – start playing, come back, start playing for sure,” said Cole Vincent.
- with files from The Canadian Press