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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The New Proposal


From TSN, the details have been laid out:

Under the league's offer, the new collective bargaining agreement would begin with the union's Dec. 9 proposal - which featured a luxury tax - then evolve into the league proposal of Feb. 2 - based on a salary cap - if it was deemed that the union's model no longer worked.

Four so-called triggers would decide when the model would switch:

- If the league pays out more than 55 per cent of its revenues in salaries.

- If any three teams have a of payroll more than $42 million US

- If average payroll of the three highest-spending teams is more than 33 per cent higher than the average of the three lowest spending teams.

- If average team compensation exceeds $36.5 million US.
So, in essence, is the NHLPA rejecting its own proposal? Are they stipulating that their December 9th proposal is inherently flawed and still remains inflationary in nature and has no hope of working?

Well, not exactly. What the problem likely is is the trigger points, which are essentially the limits set in each and every NHL proposal to date. Bettman has made a brilliant move here. What he's done is made an offer that, on the face of it anyways, has "accepted" the players' proposal and attempted to hide their salary cap in it anyways. The problem is, the cap is not well hidden and it's no wonder the players rejected this.

On the other hand, maybe the triggers are negotiable. The triggers represent the NHL's proposed limits for the salary cap concept, and maybe the NHLPA should look at those numbers and try and reach a compromise by adjusting those values. After all, if their Dec. 9th deal does in fact work well enough as they argue it will, then reasonable triggers shouldn't become a factor. Guarantee it like Jeremy Roenick said the NHLPA would.

Of course that would mean that each side would then have to agree upon what league revenues are. What a mess that would be.

The NHLPA should at least look at this concept, and maybe they can work from it and reach trigger points that make sense to both sides. I don't happen to agree 100% with the owner's cost certainty concepts, nor do I disagree entirely with the players' stance. What I do believe, is that there is a compromise in there somewhere, and if they do not find it now, they never will.



2 Comments:

  • At 2:49 PM, Blogger tealfan said…

    The problem is not just the trigger points. The problem is also that the NHLPA's offer was reportedly a six-year CBA with the luxury tax implemented for three years as an experiment. The owners could switch to a salary cap only if it were determined that the luxury tax had failed to control salaries during that three-year trial period.

    As the TSN article that you linked to points out, the NHL's "final" proposal put the triggers into effect immediately, and Goodenow determined that at least one of the triggers would already be met. Therefore, although the NHL appeared on the surface to be willing to accept the luxury tax experiment, the triggers might allow them to impose the salary cap immediately.

    One other point that didn't get much mention about the NHL's next-to-last offer (I'm not sure if it was in their "final" offer): If the NHL ended up paying out more than the specified percentage of revenues, the NHLPA would be required to repay the NHL for the "overpayment".

    Now, think about that for just a second. You have 30 NHL teams, a number of whom (NYR, TOR, PHI, DAL, COL, STL, DET) will probably bump up against whatever salary cap is implemented. If the 30 teams, all of which have different agendas and cannot, by law, coordinate their payrolls other than through the cap in the CBA, happen to spend more than the specified percentage of the league's total revenues, THE UNION MUST PAY THEM BACK FOR THEIR OWN OVERSPENDING!

    In essence, the NHL's next-to-last proposal did include a luxury tax -- not on the teams themselves, but on the NHLPA, which doesn't have direct control over the salaries offered by the teams to their players.

     
  • At 4:26 PM, Blogger Brett Mirtle said…

    I agree with you that the latest NHL proposal is a complete joke, but I think there could be a workable deal there somewhere if the so called "triggers" were actually down to Earth - just as I also believe that there's a very workable deal (probably much more so) in the December 9th proposal by the NHLPA.

    If you ask me now, the Dec. 9th offer is starting to look much more attractive at this point if the numbers, i.e. thresholds and tax rates, could be negotiated, as I'm sure they would have been.

    As you say:

    "The problem is also that the NHLPA's offer was reportedly a six-year CBA with the luxury tax implemented for three years as an experiment. The owners could switch to a salary cap only if it were determined that the luxury tax had failed to control salaries during that three-year trial period."

    That still leaves the question as to who actually decides if it's working or not after the suggested time frame?

    The owners may cry poor once a certain threshold has been reached, yet the players may see things differently with the exact same data. So maybe in the end, a hybrid deal would never be feasible?

    Anyways, upon further examination, your points about the players paying back money is well received here. The NHL is obviously not interested in compromise and their attempt to disguise their salary cap yesterday was comical - after listening to Bettman again today (on a replay of yesterday's conference), I found myself laughing out loud, because really...how could he deliver that garbage to the public with a straight face?

     

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