NHL paychecks to be cut 12 percent for escrow

TORONTO -- The first paycheck NHL players receive this season will be cut by 12 percent so that money can be placed into escrow.

Players haven't been paid in 16 months, dating to the end of the regular season before the lockout.

As stated in the new collective bargaining agreement, player salaries can't take up more than 54 percent of league revenues. An escrow fund was put in place to ensure that owners would get their share of the pot should salaries exceed the allowed percentage.

All 13 checks that players get this season will be docked for escrow but the percentage will change. The NHL and the players' association will recalculate the percentage three more times this season, the next being in late November.

The 12 percent, which accounts for 713 players, is based on a $1.8 billion revenue estimate for the season, which is probably low. Revenues were $2.1 billion during the 2003-04 season, and that figure was based on a smaller definition of revenue than the hockey-related revenue definition of the new agreement.

"All of the early revenue indicators, including better than
expected season-ticket renewals and single-game ticket sales,
strong attendance figures, better than expected TV and radio
revenues and ratings, suggest the 2005-06 year is shaping up much
better than the conservative forecasts on which escrow dollars are
based," NHLPA executive director Ted Saskin said Sunday.

"I believe the positive momentum should continue and players
should receive a return of a significant portion of the escrow

If revenues hit $1.9 billion this season, the escrow payment drops to 6.9 percent. If revenues reach $2 billion, the escrow payment would only be 1.7 percent.

If the total goes up to $2.05 billion, then players would receive back more money at the end of the season than they put into escrow.