NHL CBA News Roundup – June 19, 2012.

For those of you weary with trade rumors and the entry draft hype, here’s a look back at the notable NHL CBA news of the past week-and-a-half.

In a June 10th column regarding the Avalanche and the upcoming CBA, Adrian Dater reminds us the $70.3 million projected salary cap for next season could end up being “meaningless” under a new CBA, as that number could be reduced.

Dater believes most teams will avoid spending up to that total, for if it declines by a few million, they would risk being stuck trying to dump salary.

That’s certainly true if the salary cap ceiling is lowered without a rollback of existing salaries. On the other hand, if there is a rollback, which might be necessary if the league pushes for a reduction in the players share of revenue, then those with payrolls close to the $70.3 million cap would see them reduced accordingly with the cap ceiling.

We don’t know for sure what the outcome will be, though most pundits believe the players share of revenue will drop from its current 57% down to perhaps an even split with the team owners.

 

Tony Gallagher of The Vancouver Province wrote on June 12th determining the true worth of each NHL franchise is a “thoroughly complicated business”, which could result in the NHLPA seeking “better techniques to learn more accurately the true value of the players’ financial contributions to these teams”.

The problem is most NHL teams are part of much larger business empires. It could also explain why some wealthy team owners are resistant to revenue sharing, as it’s possible what they’re making from their teams may be shuttled toward shoring up other business interests, or the team may not be doing as well, requiring infusions of cash from the owner’s other businesses to keep it afloat.

 

Adam Proteau of The Hockey News believes it’ll be difficult for the owners to get the fans and the media on their side this time around.

The problem is the team owners got the cost certainty system they wanted due to a season-killing lockout, and face a difficult time justifying another potential lockout if the basis is fixing the very system they claimed would resolve their ills.

Proteau offers a mea culpa for his role in spreading the NHL disinformation in the previous lockout, saying he won’t believe what comes from the league and their media “watercarriers” this time around.

He then gets to the heart of the matter: “How can the players have lost a labour negotiation – yet still hold the owners upside down by the ankles and shake them free of all their money?”

Proteau then answers his own question, pointing out it is the owners and their general managers who exploit loopholes in the CBA for their own advantage (like front-loading contracts), it is the league and the team owners who continue to finance “the money pit” in Arizona (Phoenix Coyotes), and the owners can’t control themselves by continuing to toss out big money contracts.

Ultimately, he believes the ultimate goal of another lockout will be the same as the last one: improving the franchise values, at the expense of the players salaries.

This piece also raises an interesting question over how the league intends to control the spin this time around. Proteau’s correct that it’ll be difficult for the league and the team owners to garner the same level of sympathy from the fans and media. Laying blame solely on the players won’t be an easy sell this time.

That’s assuming, of course, the league and the owners give a damn what the fans believe this time around. They curried our favour last time because they were afraid a long lockout would cost them at the gate later. But we fans came back in droves following the lockout, resulting in league revenues over $3 billion for 2011-12, compared to $1.9 billion in 2003-04 (before the last lockout), so they might feel it’s not as worthwhile to sell the fans and the press on another work stoppage, as they could believe  we’ll all come running back again.

You can argue that’s a dangerous assumption, but considering how things worked out last time, it’s hard to argue they’ll turn off the fan base by staging another, potentially shorter, lockout this time.

 

CSNNE.com’s Bruins beat reporter Joe Haggerty speculated on June 13th over the possibility of another lockout, though he suspects it’ll be far shorter than the season-killer of 2004-05, stretching no longer than next January at the latest.

It’s an opinion, however, not shared by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, who subsequently told Haggerty he was optimistic next season wouldn’t be adversely affected by labour negotiations.

Maybe I’m an eternal optimist on this stuff, but I think there will be no time missed,” said Chiarelli. “I hope we’ve learned from our last go-round. We always try to improve it, but I think the [NHL] product is pretty good.” 

I don’t know Donald Fehr aside from what I’ve seen of him in the past, but I think he’s a deal-maker,” said Chiarelli. “I know he does his job. I hope the two sides get together soon, but I’m an optimist.

There seems to be more player interaction and involvement [with league affairs]. Specifically with the competition committee and a lot of the things that take place between the league and the teams, and that will help facilitate all of this. At least I hope that it does. We’ve got Brendan Shanahan involved in the player safety department, we’ve got the competition committee and we’ve got the standards committee. I think [the players] are closer to the business than they’ve ever been and I would think that will help.” 

 

A final piece of optimism: the online bookmaker Bovada predicts 1/5 odds a new CBA will be in place before the expiration of the current one on September 15.

Anyone wanna piece of that action?

1 Comment

  1. A possible solution to the players not wanting a roll-back and the league wanting to lower the players’ share of revenue is a progressive drop in the players’ share over several years but a freeze on the cap ceiling and floor at the levels to be set in the next few days until the revenue grows enough for whatever new formula to pass those levels.

    For example, in an eight year contract the % could drop to 55 in the first year 53 in the third, 51 in the fifth and 50 in the seventh.

    To make it work, the cap could never drop, so when the % drops but revenues don’t grow enough to offset it there is no lowering of the cap, so no drop in players’ salaries.

    The “next” cap could stay in place for years, but teams are guaranteed no increase unless the revenues drive it and the players don’t have to eat another roll-back.