Big news leaked out yesterday on the NHL front, big enough for me to take time out of my schedule in Rochester to write about it. I first read it on the Puck Daddy Blog from Yahoo Sports, and the news was far from good; it sounded like a blueprint for a lockout. The five terms that the NHL Owners had sent to the NHLPA that they want to get done leaked out and they were bad; now granted this is the start of negotiations and as businessmen the Owners are bound to start off with a proposal highly in their favor, but this proposal all but assures a lockout.
The five terms are as follows:
- The NHL wants to reduce the players share of revenue from 57% down to 46%.
- They want to make it so that a player cannot sign a contract longer than 5 years.
- They want to make it so that a player is not an Unrestricted Free Agent until he plays 10 years in the NHL.
- They want to make rookie entry-level contracts 5 years in length instead of 3 years.
- They want to get rid of salary arbitration as means to come to a contract agreement for restricted free agents.
This is literally guaranteeing a lockout. As I said earlier in an article I wrote for DieHard Sport, the lockout is a foregone conclusion at this point. There is no way that players will allow long-term contracts to be eliminated, especially with the guarantee of health being so low in today’s game. They will also never agree to having to play for 10 years before being able to change teams. This would handcuff really good players to absolutely horrible squads for far too long. And they will also never agree to an 11% reduction in their cut of the revenue; this I can guarantee.
The Players are also expected to endure a 22% salary rollback, which they will most assuredly balk at. I hoped that negotiations could start smoothly with a more reasonable proposal, but I was sadly mistaken. It has to be noted that, according to Forbes, only 11 teams made money last year. But, Owners of the teams that do not make money, still go out and spend a ton of it. Granted, they are trying to stay competitive and make more money in revenue from playoff success, but then they need to have a more reasonable expectation when it comes to negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Now this is not just a hockey problem, it’s a sports problem, and it only get’s worse with inflation. This is not to say that I think all Professional Athlete’s are overpaid, I think most of them deserve the money they make, but I do have a problem with Owner’s crying poor to get a CBA in their favor, and then going out and getting into absurd bidding war’s with one another and eventually overpaying a player. To put things in perspective, the third best quarterback in the NFL, Drew Brees, just signed a five-year $100 Million deal with $60 Million guaranteed. This ties the record for most guaranteed money given to a player that was set by Calvin Johnson earlier this summer. Yet, this is less guaranteed money than the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets just gave to their Center Brook Lopez. I don’t know much about basketball, but in no argument can you convince me that Brook Lopez deserves more or the same amount of guaranteed money as Calvin Johnson or Drew Brees; I will simply call you a dumbass and tell you to shut up.
The positive to take away from this proposal is that it is early on in the negotiations, and the fat lady has not sung yet. The Owners and Players could still have an epiphany and reach an agreement, and fortunately, the CBA is not set to expire for another almost two months. There is hope, and there is time, even if there is still very little of it and things have gotten off to an extremely rough start. Hockey God’s help us.