Thursday, July 14, 2005

2 Minutes for Unnecessary Roughness

Factoring in the NHL's 24% rollback on existing players' salaries, total players' salaries would have equalled 57% of league revenues. The proposed CBA caps salaries at 54% of league revenues. So did fans really miss out on NHL hockey this past year for a mere 3%? Without knowing the full details of the CBA (we won't know them until after the CBA is ratified by the owners and players), the quick answer is no. From the details we do know, the new CBA was something that they could have negotiated last summer.

  • Linkage - Everyone knew linkage was going to be part of any new CBA.
  • Salary Cap - Ditto. The only thing we didn't agree on was whether it was going to be a hard cap or simply act like some sort of a salary threshold to determine a luxury tax.
  • Entry Level Salaries - There wouldn't have been much argument about entry level salaries. Both sides were willing to lower them to 1994 levels minus the easily-attainable bonuses.
  • More Liberal Free Agency - We all knew that this was the one big bone the owners were going to throw at the players. Rather than being tied to one team until they were 31 years old, give them more options at a much earlier time in their careers.
  • Revised Salary Arbitration - This was already part of both sides' proposals early on in negotations.

So if practically every other hockey fan and media outlet - see TSN, Brian Burke, The Hockey News - knew what the new CBA was going to look like, why did it take 301 days for the lockout to be settled?

Well for one thing, both sides firmly entrenched themselves in their respective positions. Neither side was willing to move. Neither side was willing to negotiate. In fact, if the players had accepted the reality that the new CBA was going to include some sort of linkage very early in the negotation process - not until after the full season was cancelled - there very well could have been NHL hockey last year.

But I suppose that's neither here nor there. We'll finally see the NHL in October. Give both side coincidental minors for unnecessary roughness and let's move on.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 11:13 PM


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