Final proposal soon?
BY ALAN HAHN
February 1, 2005
The NHL and the NHL Players' Association yesterday confirmed that
another negotiating session will take place before the week is out.
NHL chief counsel Bill Daly said, "We do expect to meet," and a union
spokesman advised there would likely be some news this week.
As of yesterday, there was a belief that the NHL is preparing to
unveil a final offer.
It will undoubtedly include a salary cap, one thought to be massaged
enough to appeal to the players. The NHL wants to make sure that the
union's 700-plus members would be familiar with it, and if they found
it to their liking, they would push NHLPA executive director Bob
Goodenow to accept it and save the season.
Few expect Goodenow to abandon his anti-salary cap stance, but he
could step aside if his constituents wish to accept a cap against his
This final offer might be the one the league has been holding on to,
as sources have been suggesting, with the intention of making it
difficult for the players to turn down. A person with knowledge of
the situation said the offer will likely involve the widely reported
range of payroll soft caps and luxury taxes leading up to a hard cap
of around $42 million, which the league should be amenable to raising
to $45 million if it means sealing the deal. Incentives to teams with
the lowest payrolls would push them to spend more. According to
numbers presented by the NHLPA in its Dec. 9 proposal, there are 10
teams currently carrying a 2004-05 payroll of less than $30 million,
and five teams are over $45 million.
The NHL also wants to guarantee the players no less than 53 percent
of revenue each season, but some reports over the weekend said the
league won't let it go higher than 55 percent.
"If we make more money, they make more money," the source said,
explaining the benefits of linkage between league revenue and player
Mario Lemieux's sudden involvement and outspokenness is also
noteworthy. The superstar player/owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins has
allegiances to both sides, and could be asked to bridge the gap and
perhaps influence as many players as he can. Last week, he met with
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tie Domi, who has an influential voice in
"I think the guys understand - and they're starting to realize -
what's at stake here," Lemieux said in Saturday's Pittsburgh Tribune-
Review. "Both sides have to give a little bit, and hopefully, they
all realize that you have to make a deal that allows everybody to
stay competitive and make money."