NHL fans likely out of puck as lockout appears certain
- By Tim Panaccio
Toronto - When Canada and Finland play Tuesday night for the World Cup of
Hockey championship, it could be the last time a puck is dropped this fall.
On Wednesday, the NHL's Board of Governors is expected to authorize a
lockout under commissioner Gary Bettman.
The current collective-bargaining agreement expires that day. Talks aimed
at a new accord have been stalled for nearly a year over management's
insistence on a salary cap.
Assuming there is a lockout, training camps won't open as scheduled
Thursday. The consensus among owners, general managers, agents, etc., is that the
league will shut down for a year.
Bettman hasn't moved off a $31 million hard cap. Bob Goodenow, executive
director of the NHL Players' Association, has said there will "never" be a
salary cap under his stewardship.
Last week, the union presented a revised proposal from last October calling
for a luxury tax that would kick in when club payrolls reach $50 million.
But Bill Daly, the league's chief counsel and executive vice president, was not
The last work stoppage, under Bettman in 1994, lasted 100 days.
The NHL says it lost $273 million in 2002-03, as stated in a report released
in February. The league also says it lost $224 million last season. It
says player salaries consume 75 percent of club revenues, and wants that cut to
The longer a lockout lasts, the more likely clubs on the fence will start to
pressure Bettman for a compromise. Likewise, the owners are hoping pressure
will mount on Goodenow to accept a cap as players miss paychecks.
Some players are considering going overseas.
"We have to do something," Florida Panthers left wing Darcy Hordichuk said.
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