As fans wait for the NHL and NHLPA to finalize a CBA that will end the lockout and give us labor peace in hockey for at least five years, some people will already start to make predictions on what the agreement after that will look like.
Well, maybe not right away, but the CBA after the one being negotiated now could be very interesting depending on how much the league grows during the next decade or so.
Let's predict what the CBA will look like in 10 years.
Hockey-Related Revenue (HRR) Split
As soon as the lockout ends and the league opens its doors to millions of fans who desperately want to attend NHL games, the league will begin to recover financially.
Heading into the 2013-14 season, the league will enter its first full season under the new CBA. At that point, the league will expect its revenue growth to climb at an impressive rate.
By the end of the next agreement, whether it's for a seven-year term or a decade-long term, the NHL should be earning over $5 billion in revenue. The $5 billion number is a conservative prediction, and it could certainly be higher if the NHL continues to grow in United States markets.
At the conclusion of the next CBA, we can expect the league and its players to be splitting HRR 50-50. There's no reason why that split should change going forward unless costs unexpectedly rise in a major way.
If the league's revenue grows, and the new Canadian television deal in 2014 is gigantic (which it probably will be), the owners and players should have plenty of money to share 50-50.
Player Contracting Rights
|Term Limits ||Seven years because by the time we need another CBA, the players should be making enough money where they wouldn't mind accepting some kind of term limit.|
|Entry-Level Contracts (ELCs) ||Three-year term limit for ELCs|
|UFA Eligibility ||Players will become eligible for unrestricted free agency when they are 28 years old or have eight years of NHL experience.|
|Salary Arbitration ||No changes from previous CBA.|
The issue of revenue sharing could be much different in the CBA 10 years from now because it's possible that some struggling teams will be re-located to traditional hockey markets where they wouldn't need revenue sharing money to be financially strong.
If teams such as the Phoenix Coyotes or Florida Panthers leave their current markets over the next decade, the amount of teams that need revenue sharing could be smaller than it is now.
If the NHL expands during the life of the new CBA and multiple teams are added, the revenue-sharing pool could be impacted by that too.
As costs and revenue inevitably go up in the future, the amount of money in the revenue-sharing pool 10 years from now could be $250 million or more.
According to Ren Lavoie of RDS, the two sides have talked about a new deal with a decade-long term this week, and this is certainly the ideal situation for the owners.
NHL talked yesterday about the possibility of having a 10 year deal for the next CBA.— Renaud Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) December 5, 2012
The owners usually win these labor disputes, whether it's a small victory or a major one like in 2005. Having a longer CBA term benefits them, whereas the players will want a shorter term so they can win back some of the things they lost in the previous lockout sooner.
I would expect the agreement in place 10 years from now to have an eight-year term because it would give the owners a lengthy deal, but wouldn't be too long for the players.