NHL and players still talking

NHL and players still talking
January 5, 2013, 11:30 pm
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NHLPA executive director Don Fehr speaks during a press conference at the 2012 NHLPA summer player meetings at the Marriott Marquis.

(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Perhaps the only thing more annoying than watching the NHL and its players haggle over how to divide $3.3 billion is seeing NFL types tweeting erroneous information.

Early Saturday night former NFL quarterback and current NFL analyst Boomer Esiason tweeted, “My sources telling me, #NHL good to go. Let’s get it on boys! #NYR.”

About an hour later, Philadelphia television reporter Howard Eskin tweeted, “Starting to hear strong word that #NHL could cancel season in next 24 to 48 hours. Gary Bettman thinks too many issues to put together deal.”

“Just rumors,” an NHL player told CSNWashington.com when asked for the latest from New York.

While Esiason is an avid hockey fan and Eskin a trusted source for information on the Philadelphia Eagles, neither spent Saturday night in Manhattan, where representatives from the NHL and NHLPA met for more than 10 hours trying to end the 110-day lockout.

Under the guidance of federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh the two sides were still meeting face-to-face at 11 p.m. Saturday night.

The sticking point continues to be the owners’ proposed salary cap of $60 million for next season. The players have been pushing to raise that ceiling to $65 million but have been met with strong resistance.

Based on projected revenues, a $60 million salary cap could require players to place about 8.4 percent of their salaries in escrow in the first year, while a $65 million cap would mean about 15.7 percent in escrowed salaries, with that figure declining each season.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has set a Friday deadline to either come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement or cancel the season, but many believe a decision on the season could come in the next 48 hours.

If the NHL can settle its dispute in the coming days there remains hope of completing a 50-game season. If a deal is reached closer to Friday, the league will plan a 48-game slate.

Early projections were that teams could play division rivals seven times and other conference foes twice each in a shortened schedule, while other proposed schedules had four games against division opponents and three against other conference foes.