The NHL Standstill: September 15th Is Coming

I wouldn’t expect anything good to happen on the NHL front anytime soon.  The NHL Owners hated the proposal that the NHLPA submitted, and the players thought that it was pretty fair.  This always spells disaster when negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, or when you’re negotiating anything really.  It is very curious though, that two players, Mike Fisher (Nashville) and Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia) were given new contract extensions on August 20th, and Taylor Hall (Edmonton) was given a contract extension today.  I mean, I get that the lockout hasn’t started yet, but with a lockout coming, I find it strange that an Owner and a General Manager would be okay with giving out a new contract to guys so close to the end of the CBA.  Not to mention the fact that Hartnell’s deal is a six-year contract and Hall’s is a seven-year contract.  The importance of that is the Owners initial CBA proposal included a section/rule to limit all player contracts to a maximum of five years.  So why would they do this?  Is this not hypocritical?  Or are they trying to get them locked up and hope that his contract will not be rolled back to five years with a new CBA?  Or are they using this as a way to get a longer contract through one last time?  It just doesn’t seem kosher to me.

On a different note, Gary Bettman wants to compare the NHL lockout to the NBA and NFL lockouts.  The only issue is that the NBA and NFL Owners were at least somewhat reasonable in their initial demands, especially when you compare them to what the NHL demanded.  A great site, called Down Goes Brown, posted an article ripping Bettman on this earlier, and it’s quite funny and yet, still informative.

TSN, Canada’s version of ESPN but with minimal Tebow and maximum hockey, summarized the major differences between the two-sides with this:

“The union put forth an offer last week that includes a smaller percentage of revenues for players over the next three seasons in exchange for an expanded revenue sharing program to help struggling teams. The NHLPA estimated that players would be giving up US $465 million in salaries if the league continued on its pace of seven per cent growth each season.

The league’s proposal called for a 24 per cent decrease in player salaries — accomplished by lowering the union’s share of revenue — while introducing new contract restrictions, including a five-year cap on contracts.

The NHLPA has made it clear that it would like to see an increase in revenue sharing and proposed the creation of an industry growth fund that would see $100 million contributed each year for struggling teams. It would be part of a wider plan totalling $250 million in annual redistributed funds and Bettman would be given the chance to decide how the money from the industry growth fund is spread around.

The NHL is largely happy with the current economic system, but has made no secret of the fact it would like to see the end to heavily front-loaded, long-term contacts. As part of its proposal, deals would be capped at five years and would be required to pay the same amount each season.”

Needless to say there are some serious issues at hand here, and as I’ve said multiple times before, they’re not getting solved anytime soon.  It’s such a shame that a league that finally had such a great season and was so successful is just going to throw it all away.  I still think the best case scenario is getting the lockout resolved by November or December, and having 10-20 games before the Winter Classic comes around.  You can guarantee that the lockout will be over by the Winter Classic though, because based on rough estimates I’ve made based on ticket prices, commercials, sponsors, etc, the league stands to lose a potential of $25 Million in revenue, easily.  That may not be huge in the grand scheme of things, but is pretty unheard of for only one hockey game.

Negotiations are supposed to resume tomorrow, so everybody start praying.

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