Two sides acknowledge talks
NEW YORK -- Nothing has been resolved yet, but the NHL and the Players' Association are continuing to talk.
Two days after a report that the NHL and the NHLPA had reached an agreement on a salary cap -- a huge step toward resolving their lengthy labor dispute -- the two sides released statements that they had spent most of this week in meetings and would continue to talk next week.
"We spent the last four days in small group meetings continuing to review and negotiate various systemic and economic issues," NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said in its statement. "The two sides will resume small group discussions on Monday in Toronto."
About an hour later, the NHL released a similar statement that said the sides had met for a total of 26 hours over the four days.
"There was healthy dialogue, and progress continued to be made on many operational issues relating to a new collective bargaining agreement," NHL executive vice president and chief legal office Bill Daly said. "We will resume meeting early next week."
On Thursday, the Globe and Mail of Canada reported that the league and the Players' Association had reached an agreement on a formula for a salary-cap system based on team-by-team revenue.
The sides have spent the past month discussing league and team revenues. Last week, TSN of Canada reported the league and the union agreed that a salary cap would be the main piece of the puzzle, but they had not yet agreed on the upper and lower limits of the cap.
Citing unnamed sources, the Globe and Mail reported the NHL and the NHLPA agreed a team-by-team salary floor and cap based on a percentage of each team's revenue will be instituted. While the actual percentage is not known, it is expected the cap will range from $34 million to $36 million, with the floor from $22 million to $24 million.
The $36 million cap, however, is not solely meant for players' salaries. Also included would be benefits as well as signing and performance bonuses.
A source did tell the Globe and Mail the sides "still have a ways to go" on reaching a new CBA, with negotiations on salary arbitration, free agency and qualifying contract offers now taking place.
A dollar-for-dollar luxury tax also will kick in at the midway point, allowing richer teams to spend more but preventing large gaps in payrolls among all clubs. It also is believed the players' offer of a 34 percent salary rollback would be part of the new deal.
On Feb. 16, commissioner Gary Bettman announced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, making the NHL the first major North American sports league to have an entire season wiped out due to a labor dispute.
After convening with the NHL's Board of Governors in April, Bettman announced the league would not resume play until a CBA was in place, erasing the belief replacement players would be used for the 2005-06 campaign.
In March, the league officially canceled the 2005 draft, which was slated to take place in Ottawa in June.
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