In the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, the owners were content to hold out a year in hopes that the players would cave. Luckily for the owners, the players collapsed over the second summer of the lockout and the league was saved. With the owners’ first proposal now on the table, the owners seem ready to lose another season to meet their ridiculous demands. Unless their proposal is flexible, the ice may never freeze over in NHL arenas this season.
According to reports, the owners’ proposal features five key elements. A rollback of players’ revenue of league money from 57% to 46%. An elimination of salary arbitration for restricted free agents and an increase of unrestricted free agency to ten years in the league. The owners also want a five-year cap on all contracts and a lengthening of entry-level contracts from three years to five years.
Every one of these proposals hurts players, while trying to cover up for owner’s mistakes over the last seven years since the players agreed to the salary cap. League revenues have skyrocketed since the last lockout, which has pushed the cap limit over 30 million dollars. This seems like the most negotiable number because NBA players are making 50 percent of revenues. Look for the cross owner league to be happy to settle on this number. Although, it seems that players understand that without a better revenue sharing system among the teams themselves, any rollback of the salary cap will only result in another CBA stand off over the same issue.
All the other measures limit players’ ability to receive money. The normal payday avenues for players are suddenly shut off after teams have handed out ridiculous 100 million dollar deals. The cap length for contracts is a particularly bad idea as shown from the NBA. With a salary cap and contract length cap, the stars have no incentive to go to smaller markets, which takes the parity out of the league.
This is the first offer from the NHL owners and the divide between the two sides will only be known when the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) announces their terms. However, I don’t think anyone in hockey expected the owners to take such a hard stance in this CBA. The failures that have occurred since the last CBA was finalized are almost entirely their fault. How do they sell the players that they should pay for the owner’s sins? Another lockout would be devastating for the NHL and this time the bounce back might never come.