Players Offer Salary Cap as Deadline Nears

In secret meetings on Monday night in Niagara Falls, the National Hockey League Players' Association presented a new proposal for a collective bargaining agreement with the NHL that, for the first time in these negotiations, included a salary cap. Despite the inclusion of the cap, set at $52 million per team, the league rejected the offer.

The NHL has contended throughout the lockout that a salary cap is needed for the league to continue to operate. The Players' Association had said that it would never accept a cap but with the cancellation of the season set to be announced on Wednesday, they gave up on that in an attempt to save the season.

Earlier in the meeting, the league offered a salary cap at $40 million. The PA rejected that deal.

There are reports that the players' offer included a "soft cap" rather than the "hard cap" that the league has been pushing for. If it is a hard cap, the $52 million limit could not be exceeded under any circumstances. A soft cap could be exceeded three time in six years by up to 10%. There is no confirmation that a soft cap was put forth.

If no agreement is reached, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will announce the cancellation of the season at a press conference at 1:00 PM on Wednesday. Individual team press conferences are scheduled to follow.

Should an agreement be reached, a 28-game season would be played. Teams would face each of their conference opponents in a home-and-home series and the playoffs would be determined by conference standing. The four playoff rounds would be played as usual.

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