Not many people would have predicted that the length of the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) would be a major obstacle to work around in order to reach a new deal. But on day 100 of the NHL lockout, the CBA term is a very important issue for the players and owners.
According to Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com, the NHL and NHLPA have a two-year difference in their demands for the CBA term, with the owners proposing a decade-long deal and the players an eight-year agreement.
Let's examine the pros and cons of a 10-year CBA and decide if this length is a good one for the future of the NHL.
Pro: An Extended Period of Labor Peace
After one players strike and three lockouts in the last 20 years, wouldn't it be nice to go an entire decade without greedy lockouts hurting the NHL and the sport of hockey?
There have been 2,323 NHL regular season games lost because of labor disputes over the last 20 years, and Gary Bettman has been the commissioner when all of those games were missed.
The commissioner with the second-most games lost during that same time period is Bud Selig of Major League Baseball. But the 938 games lost during his tenure look like a small figure when compared to Bettman's total.
The best thing about a 10-year CBA is that there wouldn't be any more lockouts until after 2020.
Pro: Revenues Would Grow to New Heights
Since the NHL has hurt its brand and financial success with three lockouts in the last two decades, it's time for a prolonged period of labor peace to ensure that the sport is able to prosper for a long time and not have its growth interrupted or ruined by a labor dispute.
Player salaries and franchise values have risen since the previous lockout in 2005, and to ensure that the league's financial health improves in the future, the game cannot lose revenue because of lockouts.
When there are no lockouts, league revenues are allowed to grow, and player salaries increase because of the higher revenue numbers. Therefore, a 10-year CBA term is a win-win financial situation for the owners and the union.
Having a 10-year CBA would also make the NHL more attractive to major corporate sponsors And if more of these companies invest in the league, the revenue pie that the owners and players split would grow.
Pro: The NHL's 100th Anniversary Would Not be Affected
The NHL's 100th anniversary is in 1917, and with a 10-year CBA term, the league wouldn't be in danger of missing the anniversary or part of the season because of a lockout.
There would probably be several celebrations put on by the league, and maybe even some specific teams, during the 2017-18 season because of the significance of the anniversary.
While the 2017-18 season won't be the 100th NHL season because of the 2004-05 lockout, it will mark a whole century of the league's existence.
One team that would be celebrating it's 100th anniversary in 2017 is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are one of the NHL's marquee teams and the highest valued at $1 billion, according to Forbes.
The owners don't want to interfere with that season, and it's hard to imagine that any hockey fan would have a problem with that. Nobody wants a very special NHL season to be negatively impacted by a work stoppage.
Con: Player Concessions Would Last for 10 Years
It's no secret that the players have made considerable concessions to the owners in negotiations since the summer, and the bad part about a 10-year CBA from the union's perspective is that these concessions would last for an entire decade (unless the next agreement has an opt-out clause).
Giving the owners some of the player contract rights that the union has enjoyed for the past seven years is difficult to do, but agreeing to lose them for a period of 10 years is even harder.
Slashing seven percent off your split of hockey-related revenue (HRR) for 10 years (players have agreed to go from a favorable 57-43 split to an even 50-50) is also not beneficial to the players, especially when salaries rose at such an impressive rate during the previous CBA.
A 10-year CBA would force the players to wait a long time before being able to win these concessions back in negotiations. That's not an ideal situation for the union.
The finally tally reads three "pros" and one "con." When you really look at this CBA term issue closely, it's hard to find many reasons why a 10-year agreement is a bad idea, aside from some problems the players might come up with.
The NHL, more than any other sports league in North America, needs at least 10 years or more of labor peace to ensure that the league can build a successful business that isn't constantly interrupted by the greed and hatred found in lockouts.
Having a new CBA of at least 10 years in length should be a no-brainer decision by both the NHL owners and players. But as we have seen multiple times throughout this lockout, compromises have been hard to come by.
Final Verdict: A 10-year CBA term is a great idea