SUN Hockey Pool

No cap on individual teams: Bettman to GM

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

Gary Bettman told an NHL general manager yesterday that no team-by-team salary cap, based on individual club revenues, will be part of league's eventual collective bargaining agreement with its players.

PUT ON THE SPOT

The NHL commissioner was put on the spot after several news agencies reported that a team-by-team cap had been agreed upon as the lockout negotiations continue and grow more optimistic by the day.

"I asked him quite clearly 'Is this, in fact, true?" one general manager said of newspaper reports across Canada.

"He said: 'No.'

"I asked 'Is there any kind of team-by-team cap?' Again, he said 'No.' "

While it's clear the framework for a deal between the beleaguered league and its locked out players is growing closer -- with the players accepting a salary cap and a 54% linkage to team-by-team revenues -- it's important to determine what hasn't be agreed upon. Among the issues:

- Luxury Tax: Recent reports indicate a team tax would kick in for revenue sharing once a team surpasses $29 million US in payroll. Numerous sources indicate this has not been agreed to. "We have not budgeted for a luxury tax of any kind," a general manager said yesterday.

- Free agency: The age of free-agent players has not been agreed to. "We have a list of free agents if the system doesn't change," one general manager said. "We have another list if it comes down a year, another list if it changes one year younger than that."

- Revenue Sharing: While the NHL has agreed, in principle, to share revenues, the mechanisms for doing so have not been put in place.

- Contract buyouts: The formula for buying out a players' contract has not been agreed to. This could be significant because of salary caps estimated to begin at $22 million with a ceiling of $36 million.

- NHL contracts: There is a difference of opinion over whether the 2004-05 player contracts should be honoured. The players say yes, the owners say no.


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