TORONTO -- Locked-out NHL players had the pain of missing their first full pay period offset Tuesday when they received last season's escrow cheque.
Players were returned 7.98 per cent of what they earned last year, plus interest, one day before their second paycheque of the 2012-13 season would have been due, according to a spokesman for the NHL Players' Association.
The escrow payments amount to about $80,000 for every million dollars a player earned -- before deductions. For example, New York Rangers forward Brad Richards grossed approximately $960,000 after being the league's highest-paid player last season.
Under the terms of the expired collective bargaining agreement, NHL players had a portion of their salaries deducted throughout the season and placed into an escrow account. Once the final accounting for a year was completed, which ensured the correct percentage of revenue was paid out in salaries, players were refunded accordingly.
Tuesday's escrow payment came at an important time with the lockout set to eliminate another pay cycle. Players also missed a cheque on Oct. 15, but that would only have covered four days of work. The paycheque they were to have been given Wednesday would have been for a full half-month period.
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 some of his constituents are concerned about lost wages that are mounting during the lockout.
"But that doesn't mean you make a bad agreement because of it," Fehr told the newspaper.
The NHL's labour talks have been on hold since Oct. 18, when the NHLPA countered a league offer with three proposals of its own. Each of those was quickly rejected.
Since then, a league-imposed deadline to play a full season passed without further talks and the NHL cancelled all games through Nov. 30. The Jan. 1 Winter Classic outdoor game is expected to be wiped off the schedule later this week.
Superstorm Sandy forced the NHL to close its New York headquarters on Monday and Tuesday, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated it didn't affect the bargaining process. However, he added in an email there was no progress to report on the labour front.
Fine for Czechs' racism
PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- The Czech Republic's ice hockey federation says it has fined a club after its fans aimed racist chants toward Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds, who is playing in the top Czech league during the NHL lockout.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the federation said the Chomutov Pirates were fined 30,000 koruna ($1,554) by its disciplinary committee for the chants directed toward Simmonds, who currently plays for the Liberec White Tigers.
The incident took place during Sunday's game between the Pirates and the Tigers.
Chomutov has apologized to Simmonds, who is black, and the club said it would do everything it can to prevent any such abuse in the future.
Last year, a banana was thrown at Simmonds from the stands during an NHL pre-season game in London, Ont.
-- The Canadian Press, with files from AP