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NHL, NHLPA near announcement of 2014-15 salary cap

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- The NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association hope to jointly announce the salary-cap figure for the 2014-15 season by Friday, Commissioner Gary Bettman said after the League's Board of Governors meeting Thursday. He left open the possibility that the announcement could come as early as Thursday night.

"Our managers and our clubs have a sense of the range, but in the final analysis we would like to be in a position where we and the Players' Association agree on the number, and we haven’t done that yet," Commissioner Bettman said. "There have been ongoing meetings. But our goal would be to move this as quickly as possible."

Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said the expectation is that the salary cap will land somewhere in the high 60s to low 70s (in millions of dollars). It was $64.3 million for the 2013-14 season.

"The League is working all those details right now, but probably high 60s is what we're assuming and we'll see how it works out," Fletcher said.

The salary cap is tied to revenue, and Commissioner Bettman said the League experienced record revenue for the 2013-14 season, though he did not offer a specific figure.

"That's actually one of the things we're continuing to crunch, but it is a record number, which is a testament to the strength of the game and our fans and how competitive things are," he said.

Commissioner Bettman also said that the Board of Governors stayed consistent with the various changes to rules and markings on the ice originally approved by the general managers and subsequently approved by the NHL Competition Committee.

Those include changes to procedures for overtime and the shootout, faceoffs after icings, the dimensions of the trapezoid and the hash marks outside the faceoff circles, an amendment to tripping penalty, a more liberal video review policy on pucks off the mesh and distinct kicking motion, and alterations to the rule governing embellishment.

The NHLPA Executive Board has to sign off on those changes. It meets July 16-19 in Pebble Beach, Calif.

"When everything's neatly bundled up, we'll issue a formal release giving you the details on all of that," Commissioner Bettman said.

Commissioner Bettman said the same thing for a proposal to alter the draft lottery. He did not offer any details on the proposal.

"That's something that the board reviewed as well, but again, before we make that change, we'd want to consult with the Players' Association, so I don't want to get ahead of ourselves," he said. "There's been a lot of discussion and rumor and speculation about it. Before we formally announce anything, we'd rather consult first with the Players' Association."

If it becomes official, the new overtime format would require the teams to switch ends for the five-minute extra period, creating the long-change factor that exists in the second period, historically the period that features the most goals. The arena ice crew will also be required to do a dry scrape of the ice before overtime rather than before the shootout.

The object is to increase offense in overtime so more games are decided before the shootout.

"In our game now the way it's played, teams play so hard that one bad change, it can make a difference," said Los Angeles Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. "Players are so good and when there's not a lot of room, suddenly one bad change and it ends up on a 2-on-1 or a 3-on-2. It does make a difference. This certainly will open up a few plays here and there. That long change is always a hard thing for most teams."

If the game goes to a shootout, under the approved changes, coaches would not be required to give a list of shooters but instead could go down the bench and pick players as the shootout progresses. Players would still be allowed to shoot only one time.

The League and the NHLPA are discussing the possibility of making the spin-o-rama illegal in shootouts. The Board of Governors also approved the recommendation to give the Situation Room in Toronto more latitude to review goals that may not fit one of the review categories but clearly were not scored in a legal fashion. This is under rule 38.4 in the NHL Rulebook, Situations Subject to Video Review.

An example would be the game-tying goal scored by the Detroit Red Wings against the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 18. Niklas Kronwall's shot was deflected off the mesh, came back into play, hit goalie Jonathan Quick's back and went into the net. Under the current rule that goal was not subject to video review, but if this change is approved the Situation Room would be allowed to review the goal and make a ruling on it.

In addition, the Board of Governors approved the proposal to widen the trapezoid on the goal line by two feet at each post and to extend the width of the hash marks outside the faceoff circles to five feet from their current 3 1/2 feet. They also agreed that a tripping penalty should be called on a player who trips another player regardless of whether he touches the puck first after diving and reaching out with his stick.

Also subject to change pending approval by the NHLPA Executive Board are rules governing faceoffs after an icing. One player on the offending team would be eligible to take the faceoff after an icing and a second violation would result in a two-minute penalty.

The Board also approved the general managers' proposal to change the wording of the embellishment rule to allow for an escalating scale of fines to the players and a fine to coaches of repeat offenders. The details are being worked out with the NHLPA.

"Moreso than the wording, an effective enforcement mechanism is something that we've discussed, and that's something that we're discussing with the Players' Association," Commissioner Bettman said.


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