NHL CBA: 5 Biggest Differences Between 2012 and 2005 Labor Disputes
As NHL fans prepare for the possibility of a second lost season in the last decade because of a labor dispute, it's important to understand what has changed since the last time the league locked out the players.
There are several important issues that will take a while for the players and owners to sort out since they will have a profound impact on the future of the sport.
Let's examine the biggest differences between the 2012 and 2005 labor disputes.
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Back in 2004, the NHL's television deal wasn't anything similar to the 10-year, $2 billion deal that they struck in April of 2011 with NBC.
The hope among fans is that networks, most notably NBC, will pressure the league to get a deal done so the television schedule isn't interrupted by a lockout.
NBC is currently scheduled to begin broadcasting NHL games on the day after Thanksgiving, when the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins will meet in an epic Eastern Conference showdown at TD Garden.
The NHL is one of the most important parts of the NBC Sports Network, so there is a lot at stake in these labor negotiations for NBC. Not having hockey games to broadcast would not help the growth of the NBC Sports Network.
When you look at the poor history of the league's television partnerships, the players and owners need to realize that their current situation is really good, and not something worth damaging.
Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs (center).
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The salary cap ended up being one of the most fiercely debated parts of the current CBA, but in the years that have followed, you could argue that it has helped the game.
The cap floor and cap ceiling number will likely be the major changes made to the salary cap this time around.
While some people would like to see the cap floor go away, having it in place makes sure that all owners put at least some effort into putting a competitive team on the ice for the fans to enjoy and the franchise to make money.
The only changes that should be made to the cap floor are eliminating or lowering it. Teams cannot be forced into financial hardship if they don't have the funds needed to reach the floor. If there are too many teams that think they will have trouble meeting the cap floor, then getting rid of it is the best idea.
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When the players unanimously voted to appoint Donald Fehr as the executive director of the NHLPA two years ago, they made the right choice.
However, Fehr does have some unsuccessful history in these kinds of labor negotiations. He was the executive director of the MLBPA in 1994 when a strike forced that season to be cut short, which resulted in the World Series not being played for the first time since 1903.
To Fehr's credit, he is more suited for the job than Bob Goodenow was back in 2004. Goodenow, who was the NHLPA executive director during the last lockout, turned out to be one of the people who received most of the blame for the 2004-05 season not being played. Looking back, he really did deserve a good amount of the blame for what happened.
He was very firm throughout the last lockout, but wasn't a good enough leader for the players, and his stubbornness didn't help a deal between the players and owners get done in time to save the 2004-05 season.
The KHL Could Be a Problem
Even though the KHL is only five years old, it is a very strong league that NHL players would do well in.
The quality of the KHL is only going to get better as it develops more, and the NHL should be definitely worried that many of its best players, not just those who are Russian, could leave for the KHL if it appears that there is a strong chance the 2012-13 NHL season may not be played.
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Brendan Shanahan's role as league disciplinarian, along with a large number of highly-criticized suspensions, took the level of interest in player discipline to a whole new level last season.
While player discipline was part of the CBA negotiations in 2004, it could be a much larger part this time around.
Take a look at some of the player discipline changes that should be part of the new CBA. Feel free to offer your own opinions in the comment section.
- Player Fines: Right now, the max amount of money a player can be fined regarding player discipline is $2,500, which is way too low. Players who don't do something serious enough to be suspended are usually fined the max amount of money under the current CBA. It would be surprising if this figure was not increased in the new CBA.
- Appeal Process: Commissioner Gary Bettman handles all appeals of player discipline rulings under the current CBA, and it's clear that the players are unhappy with this process, and it's hard to blame them. It's not very fair, and there are much better ways of handling these appeals.
- Establishing a Suspension Model: Having a more detailed model that helps determine how long a player is to be suspended for would be a great addition to the league's supplemental discipline process. Last season, there were way too many suspension decisions that didn't seem to follow any sort of precedent, which led to some shocking inconsistency in the length of suspensions given to certain players. Establishing a better guideline for suspensions would help the process tremendously.
The league started to finally establish a good model for player discipline last season, and with a few changes, the process could be the best in sports for years to come.