The Stanley Cup Final is ongoing, and the Entry Draft is fast approaching, but concern about the next round of collective bargaining between the NHL and NHLPA is growing. Here’s a roundup of the latest.
-Yet another NHLPA player rep is optimistic his side and the league can get a new CBA in place without resorting to a work stoppage.
NY Rangers rep Brandon Dubinsky was recently quoted as saying he was “confident we’ll be able to make that happen”, adding both sides have a little more interest in getting something done.
That interest, likely shared by both sides, is an unwillingness to do anything which could have an adverse effect upon league revenue, which this season is a record $3.3 billion, up substantially from the $2.083 billion of 2003-04 (the final season under the previous CBA) and the $2.178 billion of 2005-06, the first season under the current one.
-MLive.com recently reported a lockout could hurt the Detroit Red Wings efforts to convince local taxpayers to foot the bill for a new downtown venue to replace the ageing Joe Louis Arena.
Red Wings owner Mike Illich is considered among the influential team owners, so it’ll be interesting to see if concern over getting a new arena built factors into his input during the next round of collective bargaining.
-Tony Gallagher of The Vancouver Province points out the NHL owners won’t be able to win fan support to their cause if they try to plead poverty again, especially with league revenue at an all-time high and US TV ratings on the rise.
Gallagher doubts calls to save American-based teams, which were struggling prior to the last lockout and imposition of this CBA, will resonate among Canadian hockey fans.
Indeed, there are no Canadian teams which need “saving” this time around, as the robust Canadian dollar over the course of the current CBA has been responsible for those teams spending toward the salary cap during that period.
– Hockey columnist Ray Ratto wondered if the NHL could really be stupid enough to risk losing another season to a work stoppage.
Ray, Ray, Ray. Surely, over the course of your many years covering the NHL, you’ve realized never to underestimate the ability of supposedly intelligent, university-educated corporate men to totally screw up the sports league in which they own franchises.
-At least this week we finally learned the league and the PA have exchanged dates over when to being CBA talks, though neither side is willing to reveal when they intend to actually start those talks.
Indeed, The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox doesn’t expect serious talks to start until sometime in September, if then.
– League Commissioner Gary Bettman also gave his annual, season-ending “State of the NHL” address on May 30th, where he stated the blatantly obvious by declaring labor peace was preferable to the alternative.
Bettman also dismissed worries of another work stoppage just because the two sides have yet to open talks.
“If someone is suggesting this, it’s either because there’s something in the water or people still have the NBA or NFL on the brain or they’re just looking for news on a slow day.”
“I don’t understand both the speculation and the degree of negativity that it connotes considering we, meaning the league and the players’ association, have yet to have a substantive discussion on what we may each be looking for in collective bargaining,”
Gee, Commissioner, maybe that’s because over the past twenty years, fans, bloggers and pundits have grown accustomed to labor strife in the NHL?
Custance points out it is one thing for teams at the bottom of the standings to lose money, but its another when teams like the San Jose Sharks have sold-out arenas and tightly-managed payrolls yet continue to lose money. “That’s not the players’ problem,” write Custance. “That’s a revenue-sharing problem”.
Under the current system, as Custance observes, the only teams eligible for revenue-sharing are those in the bottom half of the league in revenue which play in markets of 2.5 million viewers or less.
It’s been argued the big market owners (according to Forbes.com, those teams would include Toronto, NY Rangers, Montreal, Vancouver, Detroit, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia) wouldn’t approve of any significant improvement in revenue-sharing, and would fight it tooth and nail.
The reality, however, is they’ve actually engaged in additional revenue-sharing under the current CBA, approving the league’s temporary stewardship of the Phoenix Coyotes since 2009,of the Dallas Stars for the past two years prior to their recent purchase by new owner Tom Gaglardi, and the mid-season $10 million loan to New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek to help him repay part of his debts.
Expect the NHLPA to push hard for an improved system of revenue-sharing in the upcoming CBA talks.
– One of my readers recently crunched the numbers to show what the salary cap for next season will look like with and without a seven-percent rollback of the NHL players salaries.
Without a salary rollback, next season’s salary cap ceiling would be $70.3 million and the cap floor $54.3 million.
If the NHLPA activates its five percent escalator clause, the numbers jump to $73.815 million and $57.815 million.
With a seven percent rollback (to incorporate a 50-50 revenue split with the league), the cap would be just over $62.649 million, while the cap “floor” would be $46.649 million.
If the PA still has that five percent escalator under the next CBA, the numbers jump to just over $65.781 million and $49.781 million.
That’s assuming, of course, the gap between the cap ceiling and floor remains at $16 million.
As you can see, not much of a difference in what the salary cap could look like under a rollback, and what this season’s numbers were.