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Report: NHL could ask players to defer more salary in 2020-21

Justin Cuthbert
·2-min read
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 19:  Michael Raffl #12 of the Philadelphia Flyers complains to the referee against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 19, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The NHLPA already agreed to deferred salaries, but the NHL might want more. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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.

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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