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Monday, 16 July 2012

NHL CBA Setting the Battle Grounds

How many of you are holding out hope or are optimistic that the 2012-2013 NHL season will start on time? Unfortunately those hopes took a major blow on the weekend after the NHL offered their new CBA proposal to the NHLPA. By the terms of the first offer it's clear this is going to be a battle fought to the bitter end.

Let's get right to the bottom of the CBA "negotiations". NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr don't like each other. Both are power hungry guys who wont backdown and don't like to lose. Bettman may not be interested in playing nice with Mr. Fehr to save the season, and in the end it may come down to who blinks first.

What Gary Bettman has proposed

  • Reduce player revenue shares from 57% to 46
  • Limit the lengths of contracts to 5 years
  • Players have to wait 10 years to become Unrestricted Free Agents
  • Get rid of signing bonuses
  • NHL Entry level contracts extended to 5 years (instead of 3)
  • End future salary arbitrations
  • To get rid of front loaded contracts, the money must be the same or less in each of the 5 years.
Can you spell trouble? Out of the points the NHL has offered, I can see only 1 being approved by the NHLPA and that's the length of contracts can only be 5 years maximum. Players and owners have mentioned in the past they aren't fans of the long term 12 year deals that seem to be all the rage right now. Yes it's nice for a team to lock up a franchise player, but if you have multiple players tied up for 8 years how are younger players supposed to break into the league?

But the real hinging point around the CBA is the revenue between the league, players and owners. The players want more revenue while the league wants to give them less. A recipe for disaster. While I am in the boat that says the players are already making for too much money to play hockey, the reduced revenue proposal is ludicrous. Look at it this way; The league revenue right now is at $3.3 billion which has sky rocketed since the last lockout where revenue was $2.2 billion. During the last CBA/lockout the players had a revenue percentage of 75, and that was a much smaller cut as opposed to them making that amount with todays revenue. But here's the kicker since the lockout out each NHL team is making $47.3 million as opposed to $18.3 million before the lockout. Some teams are crying poor and instead of sorting the revenue out amongst the other owners they have decided to take it out against the players. But the players have a different idea, they want a bigger piece of the pie. Considering the players are the major reason the NHL has revenue they should be getting a little more of the revenue they are making the NHL. 

While this was just the first proposition and the revenue for players will end up being different in the end. The NHL needs to be careful about losing players to the dreaded KHL. As of right now the KHL doesn't have any issues throwing large sums of money to lure players away from the NHL, and it may work. Especially with young rookies who if this CBA gets passed will have to wait 5 years before getting a half decent contract. So if the Mr. Bettman isn't careful the KHL will end up with a lot of young talented hockey players that had their sights on the NHL. 

But the good news for hockey fans is this is just step one in a very long process. What the two sides are doing right now are offering their versions of what they want in a perfect NHL. There is still a lot of debating ahead before October and one side has to cave. 

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