TORONTO - Locked-out NHL players are expected to get back last season's escrow payment on Wednesday.
According to a union spokesman, players are set to be given 7.98 percent of what they earned last year, plus interest, on the day they were to have received their second paycheck of the currently delayed season.
The escrow payments will amount to about $80,000 for every million dollars a player earned, before deductions. For example, New York Rangers forward Brad Richards will gross approximately $960,000 after being the league's highest-paid player last season.
Under the terms of the recently expired collective bargaining agreement, players had a portion of their salaries deducted throughout the season and placed into an escrow account. Once the final accounting for the year was completed, which ensured the correct percentage of revenue was paid out in salaries, players were refunded accordingly.
The escrow checks will be distributed at an important time, as the lockout is about to eliminate another pay cycle. Players also missed a payment on Oct. 15, but that would have only covered four days of the regular season. This week's checks would have included the first full half-month pay period of the season.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr met with a group of players in Minnesota on Monday night and acknowledged in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that some of his constituents are concerned about lost wages that are mounting.
"That doesn't mean you make a bad agreement because of it," Fehr told the newspaper.
There have been no labor negotiations since Oct. 18, when the union countered a league offer with three proposals. Those were all quickly rejected by the NHL.
Since then, a league-imposed deadline to play a full season has passed, and the NHL cancelled all games through Nov. 30. The New Year's Day Winter Classic is also in danger of being called off if a new deal isn't reached soon.
Superstorm Sandy forced the NHL to close its New York headquarters on Monday and Tuesday, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated that the weather didn't affect the bargaining process. However, no progress has been made this week.