- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2005

The NHL and the locked-out NHL Players Association might have reached an agreement on the major issue facing the two sides, although the union claims even that statement is premature.

The Toronto Globe & Mail reported yesterday that the two sides have reached agreement on a salary-cap system based on each team’s individual revenue. The issue of whether there would be a cap to begin with and more recently what its limits would be resulted in the cancellation of the 2004-05 season and the threat of a late start for 2005-06.

“No agreements have been reached,” NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said. “Discussions this week continue to cover a range of issues, such as controls on team salaries, revenue sharing, Olympic participation, the amateur draft and player retention rights.”

There was no immediate reaction from the league.

Speculation that a huge roadblock had been eliminated started when Bill Daly, management’s chief negotiator, said Tuesday that negotiations had moved on to other issues beyond a salary cap and its parameters.

However, it was not clear from Daly’s limited response whether he meant that hurdle had been cleared or negotiators had stalled again on that point and decided to tackle something else.

Even if the salary cap issue has been resolved, there are dozens of other elements of a new collective bargaining agreement that have to be settled before a full agreement is reached, and any one of them could cause talks to break down again.

Tuesday was the 265th day of the lockout. The league has lost one full season, countless fans and advertisers and possibly its nationwide cable TV package. Its board of governors vowed to have a 2005-06 season but then backtracked and said that won’t happen until a new CBA has been signed.

The Globe & Mail said the new system would be governed by no more than 54 percent of team revenues going toward complete team payroll, including salary and other benefits. The initial floor of the cap would be between $22 million and $24 million and the top range $34 million to $36 million.

There would be a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax kicking in at about $29 million with proceeds split among teams near the floor of the cap system, according to the newspaper.

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