The NHL's Laughable Collective Bargaining Agreement Is a Serious Problem

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The NHL's Laughable Collective Bargaining Agreement Is a Serious Problem
(Photo by: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

 

The salary cap has been scrutinized for quite some time. People have misused or abused it. Many facets of it hurt today's game in more ways then one. It attacks both players, teams and the league. How on earth, with lawyers on both sides when this piece of net was being written, did it manage to ever be signed and agreed by all parties?

Teams going around the salary cap was to be expected, we all knew it was going to happen. No matter what was said during the lockout, in no way did anyways actually expect the cap to bring bottom-feeders or teams without a market closer to a postseason run.

They may have said it, but they where lying straight to your face.

Before we divulge into the madness that is Hossa's contract with Chicago, Luongo's contract with Vancouver or Pronger's contract with Philadelphia, the cap is so ineffective and hurtful in so many other ways it's important to stress those other points as well.

 

No-Trade Clause

We might as well call this the Dany Heatley clause. This guy ruined his own reputation and damaged his teams as well all by himself. Not only did the specifics of the potential trade with Edmonton get leaked (by the way, Cogliano, Smid, and Penner aren't exactly feeling the love from Edmonton at this point) but he tied the hands of his GM, limiting the amount of free agents his team will be able to attract.

Who wants to play on a team where there best player is leaving you out to dry?

Maybe the leaked details wheren't Heatley's fault, but if there was some provision of a pre-arranged list of five teams he would go to at the beginning of his contract then you would have to wonder, would this mess have been anything other then a big name trade a team would make after not making the postseason?

If you want to use a No-Trade clause when a team is trying to sign a player long term, and is using that as a no bargaining chip you can't help but point out that the team agreed to it. If they where willing to agree to it, how much of a problem can it be?

Well, look at where Ottawa stands now. 

Either do away with the No-Trades or have a list drafted which they can't object to. Plain and simple.

 

Long-term contracts

Ok, this is a big one.

The amount of thievery that goes on in the NHL should be reported to the cops, and if it were, Chicago would be Al Capone.

How on earth do you sign Marian Hossa, easily an $8 million player (or more), for a cap hit of roughly $5 million?

In a world where the salary cap is supposed to even out the playing field for teams, how do you explain Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Stall on the same team?

Towes, Cane, and Hossa?

Heatley, Alfredsson, and Spezza?

Lecavalier, Stamkos, St. Louis, and Hedman?

Maybe you're sitting and saying every team has players like that. Ok, stop kidding yourself.

These teams signed these players to contracts so long it makes you want to puke. How can you justify Hossa playing until he is beyond his 40s? Everyone, including Chicago and Hossa at the time of signing knew damned well that Hossa is going to retire before he reaches the end of his contract, and he will be bought out so the cap hit shrinks drastically.

But then enter the argument of the Vancouver Canucks; Luongo is being paid money he should be paying, and when you analyze salaries of comparable goalies over 40 the price being paid would be the same.

True. 

But there's more to it. How on God's green earth do you expect Luongo to play beyond his 40s? He will be close to 43 in his last year of his contract, and I think the number is only eight goalies who have ever, since the 1920's have played at that age.

The wear and tear of today's goalies, never mind the fact that Luongo is playing more games consistently, is much higher. 

When you take a close look only Dominik Hasek has played games beyond his 40's since 1970. He played 56 games for the Detroit Red Wings the season he turned 42 and 41 matches in the season he turned 43. As Ken Campbell of THN says "Chances are, Luongo will retire after the 2018-19 season when the big money stops rolling in.

Let’s, for a moment, assume that will be the case. That means the Canucks will have paid Luongo $60.38 million over nine years. Spread over that time period, the cap hit would be $6.71 million, so, essentially, the Canucks save almost $1.4 million in cap relief over the course of nine seasons."

A good point indeed.

 

Revenue Sharing

You may agree with the concept of spreading the wealth to teams who weren't as successful, but the perspective from those teams aren't as rosy.

Take an example from the Montreal Canadiens. 

The increased Canadian Dollar means more money being left from their pocket since contracts are signed in US currency. That factor can't be blamed on the CBA but revenue sharing can. More money is being shifted from the pockets of the owners to players, but also revenue is being shifted to teams that don't perform as well in terms of attendance, merchandising and concessions. 

Canadiens (Soon to be ex) Owner George Gillett says "We're paying substantially more in revenue sharing (and salaries) than we're saving against the old system. Some of these things are going to need examination."

I'm all for helping out the Islanders, the Coyotes and the Panthers whose markets just simply aren't in the mood to support their teams; they have nothing to support. That goes on the weight of the ownership and the General Managers, they have to build a winning team for their fans to support.

At one point enough is enough and you have to draw a line as to how much revenue from the league and other teams you are going to shift to those non-performers and just potentially move them to a market where performance isn't as much of a factor in terms of attendance. 

 

Escrow Funds from Player Salaries

The CBA has it's upside and downside for teams and players too. One example of how the CBA is unfair towards players is as such;

In short, this year the CBA requires that some 14 percent of their total salaries be set aside for revenue shortfalls. This year alone the NHL is, and I quote, "poised to take some $120 million in cash from the escrow fund that was set up to insure that salary costs don't exceed the projected $58.7 million per-team cap."

In other words, because of the teams in the league not generating enough revenue, these monies set aside from players paychecks will go towards revenue instead of salary to insure the minimum balance. This is obviously a bad point for the players, who would be willing to fight tooth and nail for over a tenth of their paycheck. 

 

Guaranteed Contracts

As you know, teams can buy out of a contract but still pay a portion of their salary. The thing is, if a player (see Niedermayer) decides to sit out and just not play, the team can only suspend him.

But the second he decides to come back and play, provided it is before the trade deadline when full rosters must be met, they must lift the suspension and allow him to play. The team cannot force him to retire or do anything to start playing again except for sitting and waiting. 

These guaranteed contracts present a number of problems and unfairness. Nothing is stopping a team from signing a veteran player with mileage left (Sundin, Niedermayer) and having him sit out, without pay, until the trade deadline so that player doesn't get worn out for the playoffs. 

 

These are just a portion of the bones I have to pick with the CBA. Disagree or agree, let me see it in the comments.

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