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NHL PLAYERS TAKE SHOT AT PROPOSAL AMID THREATS OF WALKOUT
Published September 19, 1994
The NHLPA on Friday presented Commissioner Gary Bettman with what the union believes is a "last best hope" for a Collective Bargaining Agreement before the start of the season, October 1st (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 9/17). The NHLPA proposal involves a complex 5% tax on salaries and gate receipts which the players contend would raise $35M in added revenue for small-market teams. But leagues officials said they are skeptical, "fearing" that it does not provide enough revenue sharing for small-market teams such as Winnipeg and Quebec (CANADIAN PRESS/TORONTO SUN, 9/19). NHLPA president Mike Gartner labeled the proposal as a "very novel idea": "We've looked at their concerns, such as the difference in revenue between big and small market teams, and tried to address them" (CP/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 9/17). STILL LOOKS LIKE A LOCKOUT: Despite the recent talks, speculation remains "rife that a lockout would likely last into December" (N.Y. POST, 9/17). Lightning GM Phil Esposito: "If we don't get an agreement, there will be a stoppage. ... We refuse to get into a baseball scenario" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/18). In Boston, Kevin Dupont writes: "They aren't going to find a cash- flow formula in less than two weeks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/18). Talks are expected to resume in New York tomorrow, at which time Bettman will respond to the NHLPA proposal (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/19). PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE? NHL management was "shaken" Friday by a rumor that the NHLPA plans to strike before the season begins October 1. An "upset" NHL official explained that the players were considering a strike because of the rollbacks that Bettman had imposed early this month. But the NHLPA denied any strike rumors (N.Y. POST, 9/17). SMOKE SCREEN? "There are many players who feel the salary- cap issue is a smokescreen for the owners' real target" of salary arbitration. Speculation has arisen that the owners plan to offer concessions on the NHL's restrictive free agency system in hopes of eliminating arbitration permanently. But Gartner indicated that the players will be unwilling to bend on the issue of salary arbitration (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/17). WILL PLAYERS CRACK ON ROOKIE CAP? Oilers Player Rep Kelly Buchberger on Friday suggested that the players would be willing to agree to a cap on rookie salaries to resolve the dispute (CP/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 9/17).