Salary cap could spell trouble for rich teams

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

The idea that the NHL players accept a salary cap up to $38 million US is bad enough, some players say. But how about the alleged solution of the NHL for those teams that are over a cap?

"That was one of our major concerns," Maple Leafs defenceman Ken Klee said yesterday. "What if we agreed to a cap? What would happen to Toronto, Philadelphia and Colorado? (The league) said, 'Oh, well, we'll just start moving players.' What does that mean, to arbitrarily move players here and there?' I'm not sure how labour laws work, but our contracts were signed in good faith."

In one scenario, a dispersal draft of sorts would take place so teams could come under the cap. An owners' proposal would have seen salary reductions begin at 15% for those players making from $800,000 to $1.499 million, up to 35% for contracts that are $5 million or higher. Before such rollbacks, the Leafs' 2004-05 budget would have been $64.69 million; after rollbacks, it would drop to $46.83 million, which would still be well above a cap of $38 million. So, Leafs general manager John Ferguson would have no choice but to make some hard decisions and cut some salary.

"That would be great, wouldn't it?" Leafs winger Darcy Tucker said sarcastically. "Try explaining it to Leafs fans when we lose four or five guys. But it's a moot point anyway because we would never accept a cap, so it does not make a lot of difference."

To no one's surprise, Ferguson took a wait-and-see approach.

"There are a host of different mechanisms that may or may not come into play," Ferguson said. "There are a host of what-ifs. For me to comment on what those mechanisms might be would be foolhardy.

LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES

"We take the approach that any new deal will present a host of logistical challenges. We know the rules will change. We have attempted to forecast what they might be, no matter what happens (in case of a sudden CBA resolution in the next few days)."


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