HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 11: NHLPA'S "SUBSTANTIAL LEAP"
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,