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Tuesday, December 14, 2004


The NHL and Players' Association met for almost four hours today, and when all of the smoke cleared, NHL frontman Gary Bettman addressed the media. It came as no surprise that the NHL rejected the latest union proposal, and it came as even less of a surprise that the NHLPA rejected the owner's counter-proposal.

Some hilites from Bettman's press conference and the NHL's counter-proposal:

  • "Under our counter-proposal, any player making less than $800,000 would not see his salary diminished at all. Under our proposal, the reduction for a player making between $800,000 and $1.49 million would be 15 per cent. The reduction for a player making $1.5 million to $1.99 million would be 20 per cent. The reduction for a player making $2 million to $3.99 million would be the 24 per cent the union leadership offered. The reduction for a player making between $4 million and $4.99 million would be 30 per cent and the reduction for a player making $5 million or more would be 35 per cent. 731 of our players, 91.8 pe cent, would be at or below the union's proposed 24 per cent."

  • "I will confirm something very important that we repeated to the union: We have not sought - and are not seeking now - the elimination of guaranteed contracts. That is a bogus issue. Salary Arbitration is inflationary - very inflationary. This one is easy. We said it must be eliminated. We made a detailed system proposal - a `salary range' - which, based on last year's economics, would see team player costs between $38.6 million and $34.6 million."

So obviously, the NHL took the ball and ran with the element of a salary rollback and restructured it. On top of that they have stood pat with the concept of cost certainty and have linked revenues and player salaries - which is something that the NHLPA has clearly conveyed they would never accept. Arbitration and entry level bonuses have been eliminated completely.

What became even more evident today was that the NHL is going to get cost certainty one way or another. The players are just as hardline about not accepting any form of 'linkage'. So where does that leave the NHL? Well, the propsect of hockey this year has been tossed directly out the window. Even the long term future of the sport has come into question.

It is clear that the owners want to take back the game, and so far, it appears that they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. How far are they willing to go? Has it been the agenda of the NHL all along to declare an impasse and break the union completey? I guess we will have to wait and see what becomes the the game that we all love, but one thing is for certain - it's going to get much worse before it gets any better.


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