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NHL Lockout: Another Salary Rollback Should Be a Non-Starter for the NHLPA

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 30:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media prior to Game One between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Prudential Center on May 30, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Steve SilvermanFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2016

All is quiet on the collective bargaining front.

That does not mean that Gary Bettman and his minions aren't trying to work on a deal with Donald Fehr and his NHL Players' Association outside the public eye, but there are few public signals that there is an urgency to get a deal done immediately.

The two sides have only a few days until the league's Sept. 15 deadline hits. On that date, if there is no new CBA between the league and the NHLPA, Bettman says the league will lock out its players—again.

This sounds like an instant replay of the 2004-05 lockout, which cost the NHL a full season. There was no hockey. There was no All-Star Game and there was no Stanley Cup.

While few are predicting another work stoppage would last a full season, nobody knows. Bettman's negotiation tactics have been to demand that the players accept much of the brunt of the league's financial problems on their backs.

The last time around, players were forced to accept a 24 percent salary rollback.

This time around, the league is not technically asking players to accept a "salary rollback." However, that's just technical talk. In its negotiations, the league is redefining the term "hockey-related revenues" that it uses. These changes mean the players get a smaller piece of the pie.

In the NHL's last offer to the NHLPA, players were offered a deal that included a $58 million salary cap for the 2012-13 season. That cap number would go up to $60 million in 2013-14 and $62 million the following season (All figures are from an SI.com report).

Under the current CBA, the salary cap for the 2012-13 season would be $70.2 million.

The NHLPA countered with a three-year offer that has a $69 million salary cap in 2012-13, followed by $71 million and $75 million the next two years.

The gap between the owners' offer and what the players are willing to accept makes it difficult for the two sides to come to an agreement.

The NHLPA would like to see a greater dependence on revenue sharing among the club owners to make up for the shortfall that is impacting some of the league's lower-revenue teams while the elite teams make money (source: USAToday.com).

That idea has not picked up steam among the owners who have been making a profit. At least not publicly.

Until the NHL is ready to include greater revenue sharing as a way to help out teams that are losing money, it is simply asking players to carry the league's financial burdens. No matter how it is labeled, this means players are being asked to accept additional salary rollbacks.

After hammering the players with a rollback following the 2004-05 lockout, it's simply a non-starter for the NHLPA.

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