| 12th hour effort to save the
NHL and NHLPA take a final
2/15/05 - by Mike Lee
have been drawn in the sand and both the NHL and NHLPA insist that this their
final offer. Well, at least until Wednesday, when NHL Commissioner Gary
Bettman's fourth "final deadline" of the week expires at 1 p.m. EST. That's
when Bettman's news conference / line in the sand / season ending deadline bell
will toll. In a nutty day of back and forth jostling, both Bettman and NHLPA
head Bob Goodenow narrowed the gap with concessions that brought both sides
closer, but still keep the two sides $4.3 million dollars per team apart.
The NHL served up a $42.2 million salary cap on Monday night, but that
was countered with a $49 million rebuttal by the players association on Tuesday
morning. Simple math says that $45.75 would meet halfway in the middle, but
that would make too much sense. Both sides that are waging this battle intend
on emerging as the victor, so a middle of the road concession really makes no
sense at this point. Nothing about this whole debate really does, so why start
Bettman responded to Goodenow's proposal via a written letter
that began, "Dear Bob". Thank goodness Goodenow's parents did name him John. Of
course, Bettman's message on Tuesday could be a Dear John letter to the players
"We attempted to reach out to you with yesterday's offer of
a team maximum cap of $42.2MM ($40MM in salary and $2.2MM in benefits) which
was not linked to League-wide revenues. As Bill (Daly) told Ted (Saskin),
"de-linking" a maximum team salary cap from League revenues and total
League-wide player compensation has always been problematic for us, especially
since we cannot now quantify the damage to the League from the lockout.
This presents the risk we will pay out more than we can afford. As you
know, if all 30 teams were to spend to the maximum we proposed, and if the
damage to our business is as we discussed at our meetings in New York, then the
League would continue to lose money," Bettman said in his one page letter.
Bettman went on to concede an additional $2.5 million dollars, upping
the league's cap proposal to $44.7 million. In the end however, Bettman's tone
was not as conciliatory.
"This offer is not an invitation to begin negotiations
- it's too late for that. This is our last effort to make a deal that's fair to
the players and one that the Clubs (hopefully) can afford," Bettman said in his
wrap up. "We have no more flexibility and there is no time for further
Goodenow responded with a short response that called out
the union's displeasure with Bettman's counter proposal.
your own calculations from Exhibit 12, over 21 Clubs are spending significantly
less than your team payroll limit number of $42.5 million. I am at a loss to
understand how you suggest your offer earlier today represents a $75 million
dollar increase when it only impacts the spending of nine teams!", Goodenow
retorted. "You will receive nothing further from us."
final proposal also includes a 50% luxury tax on payrolls between $34 and $42.5
The players union also restructured the exception provision
so that teams can only go over the cap twice during the six-year term of the
collective bargaining agreement, which would not exceed 10% over the limit of
$49 million. Should teams exceed that amount they would incur a 150% tax.
Additionally, a luxury tax would be imposed on salaries after the $30 million
mark. 25 % on $40 million-$43 million, 50% on $43 million-$46 million and 75%
from $46 million-$49 million. The deal also included a minimum payroll of $25
Players and team representatives all publicly backed their
own respective sides.
Should the two side resolve their differences
before the Wednesday deadline, a 28-game season plus a 16-game playoff system
would be set in motion.
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