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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Fair piece of the pie?


I've heard the arguments time and time again - the players want their piece of the revenue pie. I honestly have no problem with that. They deserve a fair chunk of the revenues.

What rubs me the wrong way is when a guy like Dan Russell, host of a nightly sports talk show in Vancouver, constantly harps on the owners for not wanting to give up a large enough portion of the league revenues to the players. Now hold on a minute here, I'm not saying that the owners are flat out right, but they have currently offered 54% of the beloved pie to the players; That's a bigger piece than the owners get and is a number that is surely negotiable.

So why does it seem to some that 54% to the players is not fair? Keep in mind that the owners are the employers and harbour all of the risk. The players take no risk whatsoever, their contracts are guaranteed. I have no problem with the owners wanting to guarantee costs in a similar fashion.

However, there's more to the story than simply selecting an appropriate number with which to split the pie. Much of the problem lies in the fact that the NHLPA has no trust in the owners to declare every bit of revenue. As well, the legaue has yet to help themselves out by proposing meaningfull revenue sharing and excercising some semblance of fiscal responsibility. And to those factors, I whole-heartedly agree. Independant sources must be employed to verify league revenue sources and revenue sharing is paramount.

So, will the NHL agree to help themselves? It has been rumoured that a last ditch proposal in the works, one that may have signs of compromise on certain issues. Bob McKenzie has some ideas as to what may be included in the new league offer, and there are some concepts that may catch the NHLPA's eye:
Revenue sharing: The NHL did not outline a specific revenue sharing plan, but said it would commit whatever dollars are necessary to ensure that small-market teams are able to spend the required dollars to meet the $32 million floor of the payroll range. The expectation is that any NHL revenue sharing plan would be based on a redistribution of playoff monies, not regular season revenue to any great extent.

Profit sharing: This is a new concept. The league apparently proposed that the NHL and NHLPA appoint a joint auditor to determine mutually agreeable league revenues and profits and that the owners and players would share all profits equally (50-50) in excess of $115 million. The NHL also proposed a heavy fine (using dollars and draft picks) system for teams found guilty of under-reporting revenues and profits.

Term: A six-year deal, not including the balance of this season (if there is to be one), with a provision that would allow the NHLPA to unilaterally terminate the CBA after four full seasons.
Maybe those concepts are enticing enough to allow for some movement on the NHLPA side. Again, I have no problem with the NHL asking to control salaries and link them to revenues. But in order to do that, they have to be fair, help themselves out and divy up the revenue. If the concepts reported above are accurate, maybe they all have something to talk about after all.

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