Actually, the owners are proposing to shorten ELCs by a year. However, the purpose of that is to lower the value of the second contract. Consider Evander Kane. Had he come off his ELC before last year, his current deal would likely be $1-2M less per year. More than makes up the difference in year 3 salary. Originally they wanted it longer, but their latest offer is 2 years.
It's arbitration and UFA eligibility the owners want to push back a year now.
Meh, one man's rhetoric is another's normal press conference. Seems to me the difference lies in whether what is said is what the listener wants/expects to hear.
ELC's are naturally always different in regards to who it benefits depending on the player. A longer ELC will benefit particular players in regards to their team, while a shorter ELC will benefit other teams in regards to the player. Yeah, if they had locked up Kane on a long-term deal for less money earlier it would have been better for the Jets. However, it's different for every different players situation.
Honestly they should all just agree to keep it at 3 years, seems to work good so far, no need change things just for the sake of changing them.
Totally disagree on your interpretation of rhetorical speech though. Their is a difference between business and rhetorical PR speech to the public. The entire hockey reporting/hockey blogging community is up in arms over all the public rhetoric being thrown around that means absolutely nothing. Bettman and Fehr both come out of meetings and spew BS that makes their side look good, trying to get the fans and such on their side. Any intelligent person can read through the rhetoric and tell the difference between what is a PR scheme and what is actual business/work getting done. Both sides are to blame, however I'd call the owners/league the instigators.
Ones mans rhetoric is a smart mans bulls***