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Thursday, July 14, 2005

nhl- The Deal

via the Toronto Star, When talks to save the 2005-06 season collapsed in February, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the offers from the owners were only going to get worse.
But did they? Looking back, the players did give up an enormous amount, but the deal they accepted yesterday was in many ways superior to the one they turned down in February.
"I don't think anybody will ever really know," said hockey's most powerful agent, Don Meehan. "We never got to that serious point the last time where there was the real horse trading that happened this time."
The players did endure a 24 per cent rollback and must put 15 per cent of their salaries in escrow, but that would have been the case regardless of when they accepted the deal.
The February proposal called for a $42.5 million (all figures U.S.) salary cap, but that figure remained constant without upward linkage to revenues through the six years of the deal. The February proposal wiped out arbitration, reduced qualifying offers to 75 per cent, included a luxury tax on top of the salary cap and no salary floor.
The current deal allows the cap to increase with increased revenues, arbitration has been restored, qualifying offers remain at 100 per cent and teams must maintain a minimum payroll. The league's pension plan has also been greatly enhanced, the players have the option to reopen the deal after four years and the minimum league salary has almost tripled to $450,000.
Just as importantly, unrestricted free agency will be liberalized in a big way, with the age going from 31 this summer to 29 next year, 28 in 2007 and 27 in 2008. Players entering the league this season will be eligible for unrestricted free agency after seven years in the league, meaning junior superstar Sidney Crosby will be able to go to arbitration after just four years and stands to become an unrestricted free agent when he's 25.
Sources also maintain that teams will not have to begin the season with a $39 million payroll, they must simply spend that amount through the entire season. There's also the sense that players who replace those on injured reserve will not have their salaries count against the cap unless they make more than the player they are replacing. So if Sundin breaks his leg just before the trade deadline, the Maple Leafs will likely be able to trade for an impending unrestricted free agent of equal salary to replace him in the lineup.
Teams will also be buying out many high-priced veterans at two-thirds of their current salary and it won't count against the cap. The more players who are bought out, the bigger the potential pot of money becomes for the players to share.