I don't think anyone expected there to be absolutely no days lost, so saying September would have been early is a little unrealistic. When we can still salvage an 82 game season, I call that early. In the last lockout, these sorts of offers weren't made for another 6 months.
Who cares about the last lockout - different head of the PA, totally different way of running things, and probably 70% of the PA turned over in that time.
My point is that if you don't want to miss days, and you consider saving the entire season important, you make offers to that end.
And your second statement about asking players who rarely hear no to take paycuts when the NHL is at record revenues just shows how out of touch the players are with reality. The owners aren't lying when they say that most teams can't make money and that the current system is unsustainable. By offering the 50/50 deal, the owners put a lot of their cards out on the table, and I think they expected the same from the players. The 50/50 offer was in no way great for the players, but it was a legitimate starting point for serious negotiations. For the players to essentially spit on that shows a lack of willingness from the players to settle on a reasonable deal that can work for both sides. That's not how you do negotiations when something really matters to you (ie, your fans and the sport you play).
What? The owners are lying. If they established revenue sharing, this wouldn't be the case. Notice how the NHL's offer doesn't do all that much in that regard. Notice how the salary floor is still in place - it's just lower than where it is. Are Phoenix and Florida profitable with a $40M salary floor? No. And that floor would only go up. Their revenues would not.
The NHL's issue is that a luxury tax serves the league a lot better. But we're not going to get that, not after what they gave up to get the cap in 2004. Notice who's negotiating today - Leopold, Edwards, Jacobs, Leonsis. You think these men made money or lost money during the last CBA?
NHLPA seems to be acting petulantly in this process. The NHLPA refused to give an offer, forcing the NHL to counter their own offer, then the NHLPA has apparently presented 3 offers that don't have anything do with what the NHL has been offering. It doesn't seem to me that the NHLPA is seriously negotiating towards a solution if my outside impression matches what's happening.
You're going on Bettman's word here, when it's in his interest to storm out and claim he's not interested in negotiating on those deals, leaving the NHL deal on the table as the only 'legitimate' one. You have to wait and see what was in the PA offers.