The opening proposals from the NHL brass has been a lightning storm for the media and they not only released the hounds in their initial articles, but they sic'ed the entire kennel at the League.
The thing is, everybody needs to calm down and get off the soapbox screaming foul.
Let's look at this objectively.
Was the initial proposal ridiculous in contrast to the current CBA? Absolutely. This starting point is no more than a wish list and to show where the League and the Owners stand.
Like any negotiation, there has to be a starting point. You shoot for the moon and if you miss and hit the stars, then job well done.
It's the players turn to throw where they stand.
The current proposals from the league include:
- Reducing the players’ share of hockey-related revenue (HRR) from 57 to 46 percent.
- Redefining what is included in HRR
- Limiting contract lengths to five years
- Eliminating signing bonuses
- Eliminating salary arbitration
- Extending length of entry-level contracts from three to five years
- Raising eligibility for unrestricted free agency from seven to 10 years
The big killer to this is that if the cap dropped from $70.2 million to about $58 million (some project as low as $52.1), that would leave from 14-22 teams on the bubble as they would be above (some WELL above) the possible cap ceiling drop.
Some will say that the owners are getting greedy. But Let's be fair. The players are currently enjoying 57 percent of the revenue. That's 57 percent of lucrative $3.3 billion.
There are some players are enjoying upwards to $9 plus million a year.
I ask you. What in this good green and blue Earth does someone need with $9 million a year, or $5 million for that matter?
There are some valid points for the players where if they get hurt at a young age, then they have an entire life where they would need to make up for that, but then you have successful players that are in the prime that made their money and just want more.
Is the dollar worth justified?
Most of these players that make the crazy number in NHL salaries are making extra money in endorsements. Granted, it is not like athletes such as NBA's Miami Heat star LeBron James who makes twice as much in endorsements than he does in his day job; it's still much more than what the average Joe would make in years.
Sidney Crosby will make $10 million in seven years with Reebok. Add Gatorade, Tim Hortons, Bell, Canada Bread, Frameworth and Sport Chek, which is reported to be approximately $1.4 million a year each. This is a speculated amount average according to some marketing experts and I tend to believe the numbers are not too far off.
Getting back to the owners, they were crying that the players were getting greedy and that they were losing money. Back in 2004 that would be true. But now that the league are making revenue of $ 1.1 billion more than they were making back in 2004, that's simply not true. The salaries are not the way the were. Six players were making $10-11 million a year. The top six today are making $7.8 to 9.5 million a year with only Alexander Ovechkin making past the $9 million mark.
So more money made and less given to the players in terms of salaries would be a weak statement that they are losing money.
So if the owners want to cry greed today? They might want to have a mirror handy and look into it from time to time.
Sure some markets are suffering, but they are markets that do not embrace hockey and lack the tradition to support it year in and year out. Like any business, location, location, location is the key.
Edmonton is the smallest market, with the second smallest arena in Rexall Place. But for some reason, they have a healthy bank account. The smallest market in the league is propping the struggling markets south of the border. Go figure....
The Players Question the Market
The big issue with the league is that it has consistently been propping up teams that are hemorrhaging cash while there are markets in the northern part of the U.S. and Canada that would LOVE to have an NHL team in their city.
To the most part, the Sunbelt market experiment is a flop, with the exception of markets such as San Jose.
Markets such as New York, Southern Ontario, Quebec City and Seattle are prime locations for relocation or expansion (preferably relocation). Take some of these teams that are tanking in the bank and turn them into moneymakers.
The unfortunate side of some of these locations is that there may be some backlash to some neighboring teams.
The New Jersey Devils could face declining attendance if a team got into Brooklyn (if NBA's Brooklyn Net's CEO, Brett Yorkmark has his way).
In Southern Ontario, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs would feel no ill effects, but I'm not so sure about the Buffalo Sabres.
The Meeting of the Minds
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr will be meeting with Deputy Commissioner of the NHL, Bill Daly this week in hopes to get a deal done.
NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman wants to get a deal done before time runs out, but Fehr said he would prefer to get one done as soon as possible, according to SI.com.
Fehr is not a spring chicken in this game. He was the MLBPA Director from 1985 (acting since 1983) and left for the NHLPA in 2010. He handled the work stoppage during the MLB strike of '94-95 and knows full well the complications a work stoppage can bring on.
Some of the proposals seem fair and doable with little haggling. Other aspects are out to lunch and would seem that the League is grasping at straws.
I believe that there will be an agreement worked out and that there will be some pains to swallowing some big pills on both sides, but each will come out a winner...somewhat.
This is Cory Ducey saying "Hit Hard, But Keep It Clean".
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