Players respond with another counter-proposal

Players respond with another counter-proposal
January 2, 2013, 5:15 pm
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NHL players apparently have allowed Wednesday's midnight deadline to pass without filing a Disclaimer of Interest, which could hasten an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and end the league's lockout.

Representatives from the NHL's owners and players met for more than four hours Wednesday night, extending negotiations well past midnight.

If the players had filed a Disclaimer of Interest, they would have disbanded the union and given themselves the right to file anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL. 

The fact they did not means that Don Fehr will continue representing the players as the two sides attempt to finalize a 10-year agreement.

With a midnight deadline for filing a Disclaimer of Interest as a backdrop, Fehr and the players made a counter-proposal to the owners late Wednesday afternoon and as of midnight were still awaiting a response from Gary Bettman and the owners.

The players’ union reportedly has accepted the owners’ proposal for a 10-year deal and six-year limits on future contracts [seven for teams re-signing their own free agents], but are now requesting that the salary cap for next season be raised from the proposed $60 million and that a cap is placed on escrow money from player salaries. The players are also believed to be countering with the owners’ 10 percent variance on player contracts.

Last week, Capitals left wing Jason Chimera told that one of the players’ biggest concerns was forfeiting a larger percentage of their salaries in escrow accounts.

“If we take that deal our escrow could be 20 or 30 percent,” Chimera said. “There’s no cap on escrow. For guys like [Jay Beagle], it’s their first one-way contract and they may have it cut by 30 percent. That’s a big chunk of change.”

Although no specifics have been released on the players’ proposal, the union could be asking for a salary cap between $63 million and $65 million next season. This year’s cap will remain at $70.2 million to allow teams time to get under the cap by next season via trades or buyouts.

Under the owners’ proposal,  the salary cap drop from this season to next would be a 14.53 percent decrease. Fehr likely has drawn comparisons to the NBA’s salary cap, which remains the same in the first two years of its new CBA, and the NFL cap, which declined by 6.25 percent in the first year of its CBA. The NFL and NBA recently agreed to 10-year deals with their respective players’ unions.

The other change to the owners’ proposal involves the variance of contract values from year to year. The owners increased their original proposal from 5 percent to 10 percent, but the players have asked for a 25 percent variance. Logic suggests the players’ new proposal asks for a variance in the 15-20 percent range.

All things considered, the two sides appear to be inching closer to salvaging a shortened NHL season. The NHLPA must now decide whether to file their disclaimer of interest or continue negotiating in good faith. Considering the progress made over the past six days – each side has made two counter-proposals – there is a good chance the players will postpone going to the courts to disband.

There were no Capitals representing the players at Wednesday’s negotiating session in New York. The players attending were Greg Adams, Brad Boyes, Chris Campoli, Mathieu Darche, Rick DiPietro, Shane Doan, Andrew Ferrence, Ron Hainsey, Jamal Mayers, George Parros, Marty St. Louis and Kevin Westgarth.