New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin wants the NHL to change a facet its payroll mechanism before players agree to the league’s Return to Play plan.
The 28-year-old left winger spelled out on his Twitter account when he believes wrong with the league’s escrow system, in which owners withhold money from players’ paychecks to ensure the proper revenue split is achieved by the end of the season. Under the current collective-bargaining agreement, players and teams each receive 50 percent of the league’s revenue.
Panarin wrote, “I am very much looking forward to the playoffs with the New York Rangers. I have concerns not only about the health of players and their families but also about the long term prosperity of the NHL.
“For nearly two decades, the Players have protected the owners income with escrow, including throughout this pandemic crisis, even as owners’ equity continues to grow exponentially. It is time to fix the escrow. We as players cannot report to camp to resume play without already having an agreement in place. We are all in this together.”
The escrow amount is 14 percent, according to multiple media reports.
The New York Post reported Thursday that the NHL Players’ Association is set to vote on the league’s protocols for training camp (Phase 3 of the Return to Play outline) and the postseason (Phase 4).
Panarin also addressed his disappointment about the NHL staging its 24-team playoffs in two as-yet-unnamed hub cities rather than having teams compete in their home markets. NHL training camps are scheduled to open July 10, with the expanded postseason due to start around July 30.
He wrote, “I know the process for selection of the Hub Cities is ongoing. I sincerely wish that my teammates and I could train and play games at MSG and bring employment and economic opportunity safely back to New York City for Ranger fans and all New Yorkers.”
Panarin just completed the first season of a seven-year, $81.5 million contract he signed with the Rangers last summer, when he left the Columbus Blue Jackets as a free agent. He had 32 goals and 63 assists in 69 games during his initial season for New York, tying for second in the NHL in assists and tying for third in points.
The winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year) in 2015-16 with the Blackhawks, Panarin played two seasons in Chicago before playing two seasons in Columbus.