As the two sides with a stake in the NHL labour wars seemingly stumble to reach a common ground, time is quickly ticking away. Each side seems entrenched and the major issue has become the split in the revenues between the players and the teams. More specifically, the biggest stumbling block seems to be how quickly they get to the target.
OWNERS WANT RESET
It came to the front today that Gary Bettman will not be satisfied with anything but a “reset” of player salaries in the format of another salary rollback. Then, once they get there, then they will consider raising the bar based on revenue increases.
While the NHLPA agreed to a 24% salary rollback in 2005 as a part of the last CBA, there isn’t much chance that they will allow that to happen this time around. And in my opinion, they shouldn’t have to. These contracts were negotiated under the terms of the CBA and the salary cap that were agreed upon. The owners (via their General Managers) once again couldn’t control themselves and the spending got out of control, especially in large markets where teams tried to buy their way out of mistakes (Wade Redden, Jeff Finger to name a couple). The contracts were bargained in good faith and the GMs continue to hand out huge multi – year deals while the owners cry poor. You would think that, as a group, they would learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of their colleagues. While I acknowledge that the 57% of revenues that the players were allotted last season is too much, but that was the agreement that was made.
PLAYERS MAKING CONCESSIONS
The players came to the NHL today armed with a proposal that acknowledged the percentage was unfair, and proposed a gradual reduction in percentages over the course of a few years to get to a level acceptable to both sides. (I wonder where that Idea came from…oh yeah, it’s pretty much what I suggested weeks ago.) Obviously since this was part of my solution, I think this is the way to go. The league needs to realize that they are responsible for the situation the find themselves in, and not expect the players to bail them out again this time around. Under the NHLPA (and my) proposal, with average growth of revenues there should be no need to take a pay cut, there just will not be the rapid growth that you have seen in past years. Eventually they will reach a level acceptable to both sides (50-50 or otherwise). If it takes three or four years to get there, so be it.
The NHL claimed a massive victory last time around with the enforcement of a salary cap, and they couldn’t wait to find ways around it. Now they want the players to bail them out of their own doing? That is a ludicrous expectation and one that will likely cost us all at least a couple months of hockey (at least at the NHL level).
So you know where I stand, firmly on the player’s side in this battle. How about you?