Why there isn't a deal

As one might have gathered from the conflicting findings of Levitt and Forbes, the players and the Players' Association are wary of trusting the NHL owners. They believe that the owners are exaggerating their financial woes in order to maximize profits.

The players do acknowledge that the collective bargaining system of 2003-2004 was flawed and needs changes, but were initially opposed to the concept of a salary cap.

Of course, the owners insisted on a salary cap. Gary Bettman used the term "linkage" often during the lockout, saying that there had to be a link between league revenue and players' salaries. With the NHL's ideal plan, the maximum total of players' salaries would be linked to 55 percent of the league's annual revenue. If revenue went up, so did the maximum for players' salaries. If revenue went down, the opposite.

The players' argument is that the system proposed by Bettman is unfair to them, and is designed to keep the owners from spending too much. Like children who cannot control themselves, if you will, the rules seemed, to players, to be designed to protect them from themselves. They just couldn't stop themselves from over-spending, which is how the problem started in the first place.

Firmly locked into their beliefs, the owners and players went for months before any meaningful deals were proposed. The first step forward came from the players.

On Dec. 9, the players proposed a 24 percent rollback of all player salaries. While the deal did not provide any provisions to keep salaries from inflating in the future, many saw this as a sign of great progress.

But it was not to be. January passed and many felt as though the season was already doomed. As things came down to the wire in February, the NHL sacrificed its stance on "linkage" and the NHLPA agreed to a salary cap. Essentially, both sides were a matter of 7 million dollars worth of difference over a salary cap. Bettman officially canceled the 2004-2005 NHL season on Feb. 16, 2005.

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