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Pens' Adams: Cap could become negotiable

| Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 8:26 p.m.

The salary cap could become a bargaining tool if the union and NHL continue to remain far apart on a new collective bargaining agreement.

“As far as the cap goes — look, everyone says that everything's on the table,” Penguins union representative Craig Adams said Thursday. “So far in our proposals we've kept the cap. That's been our choice because we want to play, get a deal for both sides.

“But everything is negotiable.”

Pursuit of a hard cap fueled owners to authorize the last NHL lockout, which in January 2005 forced the cancellation of an entire season for the only time in North American major sports history.

The NHL canceled two weeks of games Thursday.

The acknowledgment by Adams, one of few players to attend NHL/union weekend meetings in New York, that the cap could become negotiable is an indication of how the past is impacting these negotiations.

In fact, Adams agreed that “negotiations” is not a proper term for talks between the NHL and union because the league is working off variations of its initial proposal that called for a flip of revenue split under the old CBA, which provided players a 57 percent share.

He said players were galvanized by the NHL offer.

“Their first move told us right away they're not looking to get a deal done,” Adams said. “Having said that, it was a first offer, and there was a lot of room to move. What bothers us is the move they've made since then, which they're now characterizing as a big-time move in our direction. When you start so low, it's not that meaningful of a move.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the union must make the next proposal. Bettman previously dismissed past NHLPA offers as “discussions, not even counterproposals.”

A major sticking point with players is keeping guaranteed contracts signed during the last CBA, Adams said. Players will miss at least one paycheck because of games being canceled, but a return of escrow payments will cover 8 percent of would-be salary for the season.

“You can look at guaranteed contracts two ways: the value or not being able to cut a guy. We're not prepared to take a step backwards in real dollar values,” Adams said, adding he is “more pessimistic” than ever about a quick end to the dispute.

He said a drop-dead date has not been discussed by the union but predicted that a new CBA must be in place by January for games to be played.

Rob Rossi can is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rrossi@tribweb.com or 412-380-5635.

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