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What do the NHL players want from a new collective bargaining agreement?

From Jamie Fitzpatrick,

The last detailed offer released by the NHLPA was made public in December of 2004, and is outlined below. As of April, 2005, the players have abandoned their oppostion to a salary cap and a fixed link between revenues and salaries . Some elements of the December 9 proposal might make it into the final agreement, but it is widely accepted that the new NHL landscape will conform to the owner's demand for "cost certainty" .


In their initial negotiating stance, the players hoped to preserve the "market system" in which individual salaries are negotiated by individual players and teams, without artifical limits. But in February the NHLPA conceded that the next agreement will have some form of a salary cap.

The players were also opposed to any system that sets total salaries as a fixed percentage of total league revenues - i.e., every season the players are allocated 54 percent of NHL revenues, or 56 percent. This idea of "linkage" or "cost certainty" has been central to all proposals made by the NHL, and is believed to be on the table in current negotiations.

The latest NHLPA proposal was made April 4. Details have not been released, but various media reports say the central idea is a salary cap range that would set team payrolls at a maximum of $50 million and a minimum of $30 million.

That range would be adjusted every year, based on whether total league revenues go up or down.

The last offer made public by the NHLPA was issued on December 9, 2004. At that time, the NHLPA proposed:

  1. An across-the-board salary cut of 24 per cent. This is a one-time rollback on current contracts that does not apply to contracts signed in the future. According to the NHLPA, "In addition to an immediate economic impact for owners and their teams, the deflator will have major ongoing effects on new contracts."
  2. A system of payroll taxes. Under this proposal, a team will pay a tax of 20 cents on the dollar once the team payroll goes over $45 million. The tax increase as payrolls exceed further thresholds, like $50 million and $60 million.
  3. A revenue-sharing plan, which will work with the payroll tax to transfer money from high-revenue teams to low-revenue teams, a system intended to inhibit spending on players by the wealthiest teams.
  4. A more restrictive salary cap for rookies, limiting how much a player can earn in his first three NHL seasons. Specifically, the NHLPA says it will accept restrictions on how much such players can earn in performance bonuses.
  5. More flexibility in qualifying offers made to restricted free agents . Teams will no longer have to guarantee the previous year's salary or offer a 10 per cent raise to retain negotiating rights to all restricted free agents.
  6. Changes to the salary arbitration system, intended to give teams a better negotiating position in arbitration hearings.
  7. Joint player-management committees, established to monitor the quality of the game, marketing and other issues.