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Sunday, June 19, 2005

nhl- Talking Buyouts

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg. req.), Barring amendment, the new NHL's new collective bargaining agreement will contain a transitional provision allowing teams to buy out players over a defined period this summer without having the 67 percent cost charged against their respective caps, sources close to the negotiations have told Slap Shots. Teams exercising that option, however, will be prohibited from re-signing those players.
Even as a significant number of players are expressing distress to one another and to Players Association executives over the direction their negotiating committee has taken — a significant number, but surely a clear minority under any available anecdotal measure — it appears as though an agreement to end the lockout is within realistic reach by the middle of July.
As the fluid negotiations proceed concurrently with attorneys drawing up language on an almost hourly basis seven days a week, it appears as if only willful reneging by either side on previous commitments can derail the inevitable. This, even while dissenting players and angry agents complain that they've received virtually no information regarding the talks and have been given essentially no input into the bargaining. All PA members will of course receive a ballot in the ratification vote.
Slap Shots has learned that the club payroll range for next season is expected to be established at a ceiling of $39.5M and a floor of $22.5M, but with player benefits — estimated at $2.2M per in all previous documents — included within those numbers. Accounting for all ancillary included costs, the 2005-06 club payroll floor could actually be as low as $18M, with the high at approximately $35M.
Further, the NHL will withhold a fixed percent of player salaries in escrow to ensure the league maintains a fixed link of either 54 or 55 percent between payroll and revenues. The payroll range will be adjusted against revenues each season.
All existing contracts and qualifiers will contain the 24-percent rollback first offered by the union last Dec. 9 as a mechanism to avoid taking a hard cap. Buyouts, therefore, will be calculated as two-thirds of 76 percent of the original value of a contract.
Qualifying offers will be applied as per the PA Dec. 9 proposal, with the salary arbitration framework also based on that player's offer. No small thing, the CBA will feature revenue sharing over the life of the agreement that's measurably greater than the league's large-revenue clubs are comfortable with.
All 2004-05 contracts will be eliminated entirely. Unrestricted free agency will apparently remain at 31 this summer, though the age is expected to be incrementally reduced to 28 over the life of the deal. Entry Level compensation will be severely reduced, though it seems as if there will be provisional allowances for those previously drafted but unsigned. The mechanics of salary arbitration-players will go directly from Entry Level to salary-arb-eligible are still under discussion, as is reformatting the off-season critical date calendar. Cap treatment of players on Injured Reserve remains unresolved.