NHL, players speaking different languages

NHL, players speaking different languages
September 13, 2012, 3:06 pm
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The NHL and its players are speeding toward their secondwork stoppage in eight years, primarily because they refuse to speak the samelanguage.Today in New York,commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Donald Fehr will take each other's proposals and present them to their respective members -- Bettman to the NHL Board of Governors and Fehr to close to 300 players.What the players will find is that the owners are demanding another rollbackof salaries this time in the 10 percent range dropping the players percentageof hockey-related revenue from their current 57 percent to 49 percent nextseason and slowly decreasing to 47 percent by the end of the six-yearagreement. The owners will learn the players will not accept a system thatrequires them to give up a percentage of the salary to which they agreed. Endof discussion.This is our careers. This is stuff we need to look at asvery important, Capitals forward Matt Hendricks said. You never know howthings go. The last lockout was an entire season. I really hope that wonthappen, but if it did Id have to find a place to play somewhere because totake a year off would be unacceptable to me.The NHLs biggest concession came when Bettman agreed tokeep the definition of hockey-related revenues the same as it was in theprevious agreement. Now, at least, the two sides are comparing apples toapples.But their proposals are still miles apart.Bettman wants an immediate 10 percent rollback on salariesin the form of a lower salary cap, which would fall from 70.2 million to 63million in Wednesdays proposal.The players want no part of a rollback, instead proposing theywould see fixed increases in player salaries of 2 percent in the first year, 4percent in the second year and 6 percent in the third year. Those raises wouldbe unrelated to hockey-related revenue. Essentially, the players have devised a proposal in whichthe NHLs richest teams would need to help support the leagues poorest teamsin the form of luxury taxes and the ability to trade salary cap space.The NHL has rejected that concept. They have their feelings and we have our feelings,Hendricks said, and the job is to come to an agreement on things so we can getback to doing what we love to do and thats play hockey.On 11:59 p.m. Saturday night it seems all but certain that opportunitywill be stalled by a lockout, cancelling NHL rookie camps and threatening theSept. 21 start of training camp.After Saturday the next real deadline for the NHL and itsplayers will come on Oct. 11, the scheduled start of the regular season. By then, perhaps, the two sides will have found a way tospeak the same language.