Another Lockout Looming?

Wait, not the NHL…didn’t they just do this?

Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press recently did a piece breaking down the expiring collective bargaining agreement in the NHL.

NHLPA Director Donald Fehr (left) and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

SALARY CAP: The cap is based on the players’ share of league revenues. The players’ share ranges anywhere from 54-57%. Net revenue ranges from 2-2.7 billion. 

In 2004, the players’ share was around 65%. The Owners argued that if the players’ share was cut, the bottom feeder teams could become more successful with more spending money. 

Slashing the players share of revenue won’t make continual crappy teams magically become perennial Cup contenders. Just ask Edmonton, New York Islanders, Phoenix, and Atlanta…wait, no Winnipeg.

CBA ISSUES: It’s expected the league will attempt to move the players’ share of league revenues closer to 50%, as the NFL and NBA recently did in their CBAs. The league also wants to work on its entry-level and arbitration systems that help it control salary management. The 7% decrease in revenue will be the biggest holdup.

Per the Sports Business Journal:
“Players were widely viewed as the losers in the 2004-05 NHL lockout after they agreed to an entirely new system proposed by the owners, one that includes a salary cap that features an escrow system for player salaries. The league holds a portion of players’ salaries in escrow until the end of the year, allowing the NHL to give players an exact percentage of leaguewide revenue. Last season, players received 57 percent.”

Interesting Asterisk: Brain Injuries
All players undergo a “Exit Medical” at the end of the season. Any player NOT cleared cannot be bought out and must be paid their full salaries (lockout or not). The concussion topic is rather murky. It’s not like a torn ACL where an X-ray or MRI can show the progress. How can a doc truly determine what symptoms a player is dealing with psychologically? How many players will embellish symptoms simply to keep their contract?

From everything I’ve heard, expect negotiations to get ugly, with another work stoppage likely. Of course the players shot down the realignment provisions earlier in the year, stoking the fire first.

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