It appears we’ve reached the main — and predictable — sticking point as the NHL and NHLPA board continue negotiating the conditions around a mid-winter start to the 2020-21 season.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post was first to report on Tuesday that the NHL is seeking an extra 13 percent deferral on players’ salaries for the season. This would come in addition to the 10 percent deferral already agreed upon during negotiations before the summer restart, while 20 percent is still to be paid out to escrow.
After all the math is completed by someone far more suited to make those calculations, it would result in players earning just short of 62 percent of their total salaries for the season, with 23 percent of that coming likely in instalments at a later date.
Of course, there are more problems than the obviously unpalatable scenario that will have players waiting on significant portions of their salaries. Many players have already received the bulk of their payment in the form of annual bonuses, further complicating the process.
With @NYP_Brooksie reporting deferral ask is up to 23% total, there are 26 players who cannot defer 23% of comp this season even if all of their salary is deferred. This is due to large signing bonuses.
Total deferral shortfall is $25.4M https://t.co/4x6E3leJYR pic.twitter.com/uo0tAAsD9p
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) November 17, 2020
The one upside of deferring a larger portion of players’ incomes is that it will eliminate the possibility of prorating salaries, or having incomes directly tied to the amount of games they will play. Under that condition, it would give NHL owners reason to drag their feet and undermine negotiations as to push for as few games to be played as possible — a definitive lose-lose for both the NHL’s players and fans, and the league itself in the long run.
As Elliotte Friedman notes in a blog spun around Brooks’ report, how players will be compensated in this highly-complicated season is the most delicate detail in these negotiations.
If the two sides find a solution, perhaps the Jan. 1 targeted start date is still in play.
But it will have to happen quick.
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