Good morning from New York City. Hope you have some great New Year's plans.
Here's where things stand in your favourite topic of discussion, the NHL labour skirmish of 2012:
We are expecting an NHLPA counterproposal sometime today. There's a belief it will happen around 11 am ET (Editor's note: The sides will now reportedly get together early afternoon) but things seem to occur later than scheduled in this process.
The bigger question, of course, is what's going to be in the proposal. How much common ground will there be?
One potential hurdle involves pensions. I'm not privy to the exact details, but, apparently, the players are unhappy with how this issue is handled in the league's latest package
. That's not good news, because it seemed like the pension problem was settled weeks ago.
There are enough current landmines that nobody needs to see the return of a previous one. Especially when the escrow and transition rules promise to be enough trouble.
As much as we've discussed the proposed six-year (for another team's free agents) or seven-year (for your own) contract limits, the more I ask, the more I hear escrow is the greatest threat to a resolution.
One source said Sunday there were worries that escrow could hit 30 per cent if the NHL's proposal of a $60 million US cap was accepted (that includes the one compliance buyout counting against the players' share of hockey-related revenue, as currently proposed). No doubt the league would dispute that (saying that the lower the cap, the less they'd have to pay) but this is why both sides' accountants make money.
Against any escrow cap
The league -- and at least some of its owners -- are absolutely against any cap on escrow, at least to this point. They would consider any movement in that direction a major, major concession. But, it's hard to see a players' proposal coming without one, or something that acts like it.
Here's what the NBA came up with: The 2005 CBA capped escrow, depending on the year. The final number was eight per cent. The tricky part was any shortfall saw salaries reduced the following season as compensation.
You can imagine how much that thrilled the players, which is why it was eliminated in 2011. Now, the cap is 10 per cent, and, any shortfall comes from the post-career benefits pool. (As I write this, I wonder if the NHL's proposed change to pensions leads down this road. Who knows?)
So, you can see why this has the potential to go all Three Mile Island yet again. This doesn't even mention the possibility the NHLPA asks for a $67 million cap, which has been reported several times.
We'll see what happens. In the meantime, have a great New Year. May 2013 be a safe and successful one for all of you.
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