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Explaining the players’ desire for a higher 2013-14 salary cap

Jan 4, 2013, 4:27 PM EDT

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If you’ve ever wondered why there’s such a fight over the 2013-14 salary cap despite the fact league revenues will be split 50-50 whether the cap is $60 million or $123 billion, the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle has a good explanation from the NHLPA’s perspective.

The players were aiming for a number close to $67.5-million, but this week have lowered their expectations to $65-million.

Either one of the players’ numbers would mean a portion of their salaries would likely be lost to escrow that season; the league’s number ($60 million), meanwhile, would mean free agents looking for new homes may not have many options.

Selfishly speaking, players with contracts likely want the cap lower and players without them want it higher, making this another polarizing issue for the NHLPA to deal with.

Given how negotiations have gone, however, players appear to have settled on pushing for a higher cap in order to allow freedom of movement and higher salaries, with free agents better able to sign where (and for a salary) they want.

From the NHL’s perspective, a $60 million salary cap for 2013-14 would likely force big-spending teams to shed assets. In addition, it could restrict the ability of prized free agents to sign with big-spending teams.

Given the league’s desire for (obsession with?) parity, it’s not hard to understand why it would like to see more talent spread around. While teams like St. Louis and Phoenix have been successful with relatively low payrolls, evidence suggests it’s far more difficult to win the Stanley Cup on a budget.

Related: Some GMs would welcome chance to “dismantle” teams, Bettman tells players

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