Capitals cautiously optimistic about new proposal

Capitals cautiously optimistic about new proposal
October 17, 2012, 2:15 pm
Share This Post

A step in the right direction:

That’s what many of the Capitals are calling the 50-50 proposal [see full proposal here] tabled by the owners on Tuesday in an attempt to salvage a full NHL season.

Under the proposal, which commissioner Gary Bettman called “our best offer” to salvage a full season, the players’ share of revenue would fall from 57 percent to 50 percent. Bettman’s first offer had the players taking a 43 percent share.

“It’s kind of where they should have started off in July,” Capitals forward Jason Chimera said, referring to the owners’ initial proposal of a 57-43 split in favor of the owners. “We would have been a lot further on.”

Under the new proposal, the NHL salary cap would immediately drop from $70.2 million to $59.9 million. And while Bettman has promised not to roll back player salaries, the players are concerned they will need to place 12.3 percent of their salaries into escrow accounts.

Last season, the players placed 8.5 percent of their salaries in escrow but because league revenue grew at a rate of 7.1 percent they will receive virtually all of it back in escrow checks later this month.

The NHL’s proposal of a 50-50 split is based on the league’s revenue from last season, $3.3 billion.

“At least they’re talking and that’s positive,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. “Obviously, 50-50 sounds good, but it’s just a number. We need to go into all the details on the proposal and make sure everything’s right.”

Chimera and Caps forward Matt Hendricks were among the more than 120 NHL players who participated in a conference call with union leader Don Fehr Tuesday night. Hendricks said the mood on that call was more cautious than optimistic.

“I sensed a lot of concern from the players when it came to immediate concessions,” Hendricks said. “I think that’s something that concerns us as a whole.

“But at the same time it’s a step in the right direction. That’s the way we have to look at it. The owners showed they want to go to the negotiating table. We hope it stays that way and we can find a deal shortly.”

The NHLPA is expected to make a counterproposal by Thursday and that’s when Chimera expects the real negotiating to begin.

“I’m sure the next three or four or five days will be a big swing of emotions,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s going to go back and forth. That’s what we want. We’ll get back to them, either at some point [Wednesday night] or maybe [Thursday]. We hope it’s not just a PR ploy on [the owners’] part.”