Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bargaining In Not So Good Faith

Another day, another missed opportunity for the NHL and NHLPA to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. Sadly there are going to be more days like this mainly because right now neither side really is serious about working out a new agreement.

As frustrating as it is now to be an NHL fan, fair warning things are going to get worse until someone becomes more interested in achieving labor peace than they are winning the battle of public relations. Neither side has a gun pointed at their heads so neither side really has any kind of incentive to sit down and work things out.

Want to prove that theory then suggest to both sides that they submit to mediation or even worse binding arbitration. I have a better chance of hitting the lottery than either side acknowledging that the system is broken for both sides not just one.

The NHL owners need to acknowledge that they share a large shame of blame for creating a system that they themselves broke. How do you win every possible concession from the NHLPA and yet still screw things up?

In a sport where there are piles of money to be made; the NHL finds more ways to lose money and they need to blame themselves not the salaries that the players make. No other professional sports league in North America is as poorly run as the NHL and it will remain that way even if the NHLPA gives them every concession they the NHL demands.

The NHLPA needs to wake up and realize that if they too don't help the NHL save it from itself then sooner not later will teams go out of business. Is it fair no it isn't but at the same time tossing grenades in the form of NHL revenue sharing when you know that the idea is more about pitting NHL owner vs NHL owner than solving a problem.

It is hard to feel sorry for either side but right now it is time for both sides to realize that both need to compromise and work as REAL partners not pretend ones. For that to happen then the NHL owners need to realize they need the players as much as the NHLPA needs the owners.

Contract limits: the players do need to accept that salary cap busting contracts have to end. These "lifetime" contracts that cheat the cap hurt the league and the sport.

The length of an NHL contract should be tied to the length of the average NHL career whatever that number might be. Still the NHL should not be rewarded for the players once again "rescuing" them from themselves.

In return the NHL needs to increase their contributions toward pensions, offer improved post-career medical coverage, and post-career counseling to help players adjust to life after hockey.

Entry Level Contracts and Free Agency: Changes are needed here starting with entry level contracts so try these. First ELCs are for 5 years but after the 3rd NHL season are 1-way contracts. After the ELCs then year 6 if the team and player can not agree to a new contract then one side can choose arbitration.

If the NHL team refuses arbitration then the player becomes an unrestricted free agent. But if the player accepts arbitration then it is a 2 year deal after which the player can become an unrestricted free agent.

Entry Level compensation base salary can be no higher than 925,000 a year, no more signing bonuses but raises are tied to performance levels and will fall under current Schedule A and Schedule B rules,

As I already mentioned 1st three seasons are 2-way deal while years 4 and 5 are 1-way. A team however will have the option to buyout a player after year 3 under the same rules regarding buyouts with 1 difference no more stashing players in the AHL.

Year 4 and 5 players sent to the AHL will still have base salary counts toward cap. If a UFA player does not work out then no more stashing Wade Reddens in the minor leagues for years either as you either buy him out or after 2nd AHL season buyout rate drops to 1/3 of remaining contract.

Sorry players willing to choose money over playing in the NHL should no longer be rewarded. Have some pride and take the buyout.

Escrow Deductions And Revenue: I have to admit that the escrow deduction bothers me a lot. If my employer says he is going to pay me X dollars the I expect X dollars not X-Y waiting on revenue.

I don't have all the answers but if the NHL wants to deduct X dollars in salary from the players and tie it to revenue then there has to be a way to tie it in with revenue sharing.

Perhaps a base salary with a revenue bonus tied to the salary cap. I get nervous when I see teams that barely spend towards the salary cap minimum so I would penalize teams that are not at the cap floor on opening night.

In return I also think that while the idea of improved revenue sharing in the NHL is a good idea at the same time I want it tied to management performance and limit
how much a team receives.

Put it simply, teams that produce winning product on the ice can generate their own revenue. Why should teams that consistently fail to make the playoffs be rewarded for their failures?

Just like players receive performance bonuses then why not reward those teams who generate their own revenue? In today's NHL there are way too many ways to produce winning teams that failing to make the playoffs for 4-5 straight years is more a sign of poor management than anything else.

The more you win the bigger a piece of the revenue sharing. I see it as an incentive plan to get teams to better manage their resources.

You don't have to "tank" build a winning team by the draft. Rebuilding or retooling should only take 2-3 years tops if you manage your team right.

The players in return for salary contract limits will get a bigger say in areas like rule changes and safety issues. The CBA would be for 5 years with both sides having the right to extend it for another year each.

If one side chooses not to exercise that option then no more waiting 180 days before the CBA expires. If you want a new CBA then now you need to begin contract talks 180 days before the CBA expires.

Both sides will be required to first make an effort to work out a deal. If there is no deal after 90 days of talks then mediation must take place before either side can cause a labor stoppage.

A side can choose to ignore the efforts of the mediator but at least the fans will know which side is blowing them off. Is this perfect no not at all as I am sure people can find hundreds of ways to poke holes in this.

But at least I tried which is more than I can say for either the NHL or NHLPA.

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