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HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 11: NHLPA'S "SUBSTANTIAL LEAP"
Published October 11, 1994
The NHLPA offered its counterproposal to the owners yesterday claiming that it addresses the owners' concerns about revenue allocation. The NHLPA's proposal: Impose graduated tax rates on the player payrolls of the top 16 revenue clubs, increasing them to a maximum of 7%; Reduce the proposed tax on gate receipts from 5.5% to 3%; Guarantee a revenue pool of $20M from the above for small-market clubs (Mult., 10/11). In New York, Murray Chass cites a source familiar with the players' proposal who says 55% of the revenue-sharing pool would come from payrolls and 45% from gate receipts (N.Y. TIMES, 10/11). NHLPA VP Kelly Miller: "If you would have asked me before if we would have accepted tax rates -- no way" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/11). NHLPA President Mike Gartner claims the proposal makes "significant strides in meeting the concerns that the league has stated to us" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/10). WILL THE OWNERS JUMP? The players "have extended an olive branch to the owners," but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "is likely to respond with a weed whacker" (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 10/11). For the NHLPA, "it was a substantial leap." For example, the players' proposal would impose a tax on the Blues of between $1.7-2M, but the league plan would tax the Blues $7M. "The players, in other words, still aren't buying the idea that a payroll tax should be so onerous that it forces teams to axe salaries in order to avoid paying the tax" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 10/11). CNN's Nick Charles: "It looks like the players did some significant bending" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/10). ESPN's Al Morganti: "Boy, it's a long way philosophically from .... the luxury tax that the NHL had proposed. However, it could give you some common ground" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/10). The players' proposal "is certainly worth a look." But the owners "want a punitive-enough tax to virtually guarantee salaries won't continue to rise. It's the old cap vs. drag argument" (Bob McKenzie, TORONTO STAR, 10/11). WHAT TO EXPECT: "Initial reaction to the NHLPA moves was pessimistic on the part of management" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/11). Bettman said that players "would have to do more than jiggle the numbers of their previous offers. And that seems to be what the players have done" (Gary Miles, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/11). NHL owners "aren't expected to look upon the offer with favourable eyes." CP's Alan Adams cites sources who say one of the last things Bettman told Goodenow when talks broke off last week "was not to come back with an offer to increase the tax on salaries and gate receipts" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/11). Bettman "did not seem overwhelmed" (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 10/11). Bruins President & GM Harry Sinden: "You could say there is a sense of optimism simply because we did sit down and have a meeting" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/11). One management source: "At least they have recognized our problem and the need for a tax system" (NEWSDAY, 10/11). SAVE THE SEASON? In Toronto, Bob McKenzie reports a few NHL Governors support a "longshot" plan to accept the players' no- strike pledge on one condition: "no new player contracts can be signed between now and the end of the season" (TORONTO STAR, 10/11). The "most pertinent question" heading into today's NHL Governors meeting is whether Bettman will identify the players' proposal as "meaningful progress" (Sandra McKee, Baltimore SUN, 10/11). Bettman "has one out pitch: He has never said that there will be no games without a signed deal" (Kevin Paul Dupont, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/11). If the deal is rejected, Bettman is likely to shift the restart date to November 1 (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 10/11). A rejection by the owners could endanger a "serious chunk" of the season, since the players "aren't likely to move much farther on their side" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 10/11). Whalers GM Jim Rutherford: "In order to start on the 15th, the decision is going to have to be made (today)" (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/11).