The hockey world will be following closely this afternoon when the NHLPA - with 18 players in attendance including Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Jarome Iginla - gives its response to the National Hockey League's latest collective bargaining proposal.
Both sides met for several hours through the early afternoon on Tuesday, with a significant proposal from the league on the table contingent on an 82-game season beginning Nov. 2. The meeting - being held in Toronto at 2:30pm et at the earliest - also has NHL owners Jeremy Jacobs (Boston), Craig Leipold (Minnesota), Murrya Edwards (Calgary) and Ted Leonsis (Washington) joining the league's braintrust.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr spent Wednesday examining the document with staff and the league has indicated that if a deal is worked out after next week, there could only be an abbreviated season.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has offered the players a plan which would includes a 50-50 split in all hockey related revenues and no salary rollback.
Other highlights of the offer - as released by the NHL on Wednesday - included:
- an official salary cap of $59.9 million for the 2012-13 season, with the provision that teams can actually spend up to $70.2 million for one year to ease the transition.
- a new rule that would allow teams to retain a portion of a player's salary in trades.
- the reduction of entry-level contracts to two years.
- a term limit on any contract beyond that set at five years and a stipulation that the average annual value can only vary up to five per cent. This is a mechanism designed to eliminate the long-term, back-diving deals that became popular during the previous CBA.
- the elimination of re-entry waivers.
- an annual revenue-sharing pool of $200 million, half of which is raised from the 10 richest teams, and the creation of a committee to determine how the money is distributed. The NHLPA would be given representation on the committee.
- the introduction of a "neutral" third-party arbitrator to handle appeals on supplemental discipline with a "clearly erroneous" standard of review.
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