Back in 2004, NHL players swore theyd never agree to play in a league with a salary cap. A years worth of wages later, they reluctantly agreed to a salary cap.
Today, NHL players will tell you they will never agree to play in a league that cuts their existing salaries. Care to take a guess on how that will end up?
We know were going to have to take a hit, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner told CSNWashington.com Its just how big of a hit we need to take.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and his deputy, Steve Fehr, Friday in Toronto and told reporters they would continue informal discussions through the weekend.
Bettman's most recent proposal came on Sept. 12 when he proposed the players share of revenue, currently at 57 percent, start at 49 percent and gradually decrease to 47 percent by the end of the six-year agreement.
The players five-year proposal, based on an annual 7.1 percent increase in league revenue, had their share dropping no lower than 52 percent.
Neither side has budged since those two proposals and on Thursday the league announced that all regular season games through Oct. 24 have been cancelled.
I think both sides know what their next proposal is, its just who wants to give it first, Alzner said. The owners know what their bottom percentage is and Im sure Don Fehr knows whats going to be a good one for us economically.
But whos going to be the first one to bite the bullet? No one wants to lose the negotiation. We understand were definitely not going to win it.
Just like the players in 2004, the current NHL players know that to come to an agreement they will need to concede to some type of salary rollbacks. Theyre just hesitant to admit it.
This is our living, Alzner said. This is how we all support our families and ourselves. We need to play eventually.
The owners, the reason they got to where they are is because they have other ventures. They have other ways to support themselves. We need to find a way to make it work. Unfortunately, its by taking a pay cut or by going overseas. The owners that are losing money have other businesses, so theyre OK. A lot of us dont have businesses. We just have to wait until we get the call.
Which brings us to an even more important issue to Capitals fans. If, indeed, the players are forced to take a pay cut in order to reach labor peace, will Alex Ovechkin come back?
Last month Ovechkin said he would consider staying in Russia if the NHL forced him to give back a percentage of the 88 million the Caps agreed to pay him over the remaining nine seasons on his contract.
Was Ovechkin simply being militant, or was he serious about staying in Russia?
You dont want to see that and you just hope it doesnt happen, Alzner said. Honestly, I dont know the seriousness of it. The only one who does know is him. For the sake of the Capitals I hope thats not for real. Hes a big face of this league and we need to have him.