The fate of the 2004-2005 NHL season could be decided today as the representatives of the league and the NHL Players’ Association meet at an undisclosed location in New York. It is speculated that a deal between the two sides of the ongoing labor struggle would have to be reached this week to save the season.
The meeting will include the smallest group of negotiators yet, with two “Original Six” members absent. NHLPA president Trevor Linden and Calgary Flames part-owner Harley Hotchkiss will not be present, nor – as was the case in other recent meetings – will NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow or NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Only NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly, outside counsel Bob Batterman, Players’ Association senior director Ted Saskin and outside counsel John McCambridge will meet.
The league is rumored to be preparing a final offer. Reportedly, it will include a team salary floor of $32 million, a salary cap of $45 million, and a 24 percent salary rollback. The salary rollback was originally proposed by the NHLPA in an effort to avoid a salary cap.
The Players’ Association has adamently refused to accept any deal with a salary cap, while the league contends that any offer without what they call “cost certainty” is unacceptable.