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NHL Lockout Watch 2012: How They Differ on the Issues as of August 15

A 2012 NHL lockout looks almost inevitable as of mid-August.

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NHL Lockout Updates: Check here for the latest on negotiations between the NHL and NHL Players' Association..

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the owners and players "have different views of the world."

NHL Players' Association exec Donald Fehr says the two sides are separated by a "pretty substantial monetary gulf."

Here's a point-by-point look at where they stand as negotiations continue towards a new NHL collective bargaining agreement.

Details are gathered from assorted media sources, and most points have not been confirmed by the NHL or NHLPA.

The Salary Cap

Though both sides want adjustments, the players and owners agree that the salary cap structure will remain in place. The NHL has operated under a salary cap since 2005.

The Players' Share of the Cash

Under the 2005 CBA, the players are guaranteed a fixed percentage of overall NHL revenues. In 2011-12, the players' share was 57 percent of about $3.3 billion.

Since 2005, league revenues have increased by an average of seven per cent every season. So the NHL salary cap and overall player salaries have increased as well.

The Owners want to reduce the players' percentage share from 57 to 46 for the life of the new agreement.

The Players are offering to slow rising salaries by ending the direct link between the salary cap and league revenue.

They propose that salary cap increases be limited to two percent in year one of the new CBA, four per cent in year two, and six per cent in year three. In year four the current system would resume, with the players getting 57 per cent of all revenues.

Assuming revenues continue to expand by about seven per cent every year, the players say the new system would save the owners about $465-million compared to what they would have paid under the 2005 CBA.

"Hockey-Related Revenue"

Hockey-related revenue (HRR) is the term used to describe exactly what is included when the NHL calculates its total revenue to determine the salary cap.

The Owners want to narrow the definition of HRR to exclude some income sources. It's reported that the new parameters of HRR would cut the players' share by a further three per cent.

The Players are proposing no change to the definition of HRR.

Revenue Sharing

The revenue bonanza of recent years has not included every NHL team. Those in the biggest and healthiest hockey markets are making more money than ever. But it's estimated that six-to-ten franchises are struggling to break even.

According to various estimates, the NHL's current revenue-sharing plan sees the rich teams distribute $140 million-to-$180 million to the poor teams every year.

The Players are calling for a revised system that would see more than $250 million shared between teams every year. It would eliminate restrictions that prevent teams in large markets from being eligible for revenue sharing, and eliminate penalties on small-market teams that fail to grow revenue at the league average.

The Owners, according to Bettman, are willing to increase revenue sharing "in a variety of ways," but are more focused on "paying out less in player costs."

Entry-Level Contracts

Players in their first three years of NHL employment are the cheapest, because of strict limits on "entry-level" contracts.

The Owners want the entry-level term increased to five years.

Unrestricted Free Agency

The Owners want a player to put in ten NHL seasons before qualifying to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Players want no change to the current UFA threshold, which is seven years of service, with limited exceptions.

Maximum Contract Terms

The Owners want to limit player contracts to a maximum of five years.

The Players want no change to the current system. There is currently no limit on the length of a contract.

Salary Arbitration

The Owners want to eliminate the current system of salary arbitration.

The Players want no change to the current system.

Salary Cap Flexibility

The Players want to give teams the flexibility to spend up to $4 million over the salary cap or drop as low as $4 million under the salary floor. This would be achieved by new rules allowing teams to trade salary-cap space.

Non-Player Spending

The Players are proposing a cap on how much teams can spend on coaching, scouting, management, and other off-ice expenses.

Extra Draft Picks

The Players are proposing a mechanism that could see financially troubled teams awarded extra selections in the NHL Entry Draft.

See also: Key Points in the 2005 NHL Collective Agreement

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