Deal includes salary cap of 54 percent of revenue

Updated: July 8, 2005, 11:05 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The NHL and the players' association are closing in on a new collective bargaining agreement, but both sides denied a report Thursday that a deal had been reached.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the sides had completed negotiations to end the lockout that wiped out all of last season. But the league and the union said that is premature.

"The report is inaccurate," players' association spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said.

The league and the union have been at the bargaining table every week for the past few months and have indicated they are close to a deal. The sides resumed negotiations in New York on Monday, and those talks continued Thursday.

"The media report that the NHL and the NHLPA have an agreement in principle is simply not true," Bernadette Mansur, the NHL vice president of communications, said in an e-mail statement.

The newspaper, citing anonymous sources close to the negotiations, said the agreement would feature a hard salary cap linked to 54 percent of league revenue, a 24 percent rollback of existing contracts and qualifying offers. It would also include a provision that would limit the salary of any player to 20 percent of the team cap figure in any season.

The salary cap would be $37 million and wouldn't include medical and dental benefits and pension payments, the Times reported.

The newspaper added that details were to be presented to the NHL executive committee in New York on Monday and that players would meet to decide whether to approve the deal.

"There is no BOG [board of governors] meeting scheduled at this time," Mansur said.

Under the reported agreement, the league's All-Star Game would be dropped next season and players would be allowed to represent their home countries at the Turin Olympics in February, the Times said. Each team would also have an equal chance in the lottery for the No. 1 pick in this year's entry draft.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the hockey season Feb. 16 because of the lockout, which started Sept. 16. The NHL became the first major pro sports league in North America to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press