Commentary, opinion and news on the world of hockey.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Roenick sounds off


I know this is probably old news for most of you, but I found some of Jermey Roenick's comments quite interesting.
"My main message right now is the game is more important than egos. The players need to give back what I think has gotten out of hand, in terms of salaries," Roenick said. "Our game is great, our game is popular, but not popular enough to control $8, $9 or $10-million salaries going out.

"The owners maybe have to be open to the idea of revenue sharing. They want to have a partnership with the players. They need to have a partnership with themselves."

"(It's) not just the fact we're not playing, but the fact there's such tension between the two sides that a deal cannot be reached," Roenick said. "Especially after how far the players have come and what we've given up. We've given up the 24 percent. We've actually stuck our neck out to offer them cost certainty.

"We guaranteed it. If it did not do what we said it would do, and put a drag down on salaries after three years, we would go to their system and accept a salary cap," Roenick said. "Something that's equal for both sides."

"We believe, with the deal we offered them, salaries would decrease, would drag and would in turn, create that cost-certainty atmosphere for the owners to make more money. The salaries would not escalate as high. The average salary would probably drop a little bit, but still maintain a strong dollar for the second and third-line player and still your top players are still going to be able to make $5, $6 million, which is a lot of money these days."
I find myself nodding in agreement with several points that he makes.

1. He admits that salaries are out of control and the NHL cannot sustain the current level of player compensation. The fact that a small group of moronic owners are to blame for the problem in the first place matters not at this point.

2. The players have to give back and the owners must revenue share. This is a no brainer. More important than the salary rollback is the fact that the owners have to make more than a cosmetic attempt to help themselves here.

3. But what I find most interesting is "If it did not do what we said it would do, and put a drag down on salaries after three years, we would go to their system and accept a salary cap."

I was not certain that the players had agreed to change to a salary cap system if their own proposals didn't pan out. I heard some talk about the cap issues being opened for further discussion after a period of time, but it's not in the fine print of their Dec. 9 proposal (which actually asks for a six year term, by the way). And I never heard the words 'we will accept a salary cap if our system breaks down'.

So I find it rather interesting to hear Roenick say that.

But if it were true that should the NHLPA system not do it's job within three years, and if the NHLPA would be willing to put it in writing that they would switch to a cap system, then I see no reason as to why there should not have been a season this year. Especially since the NHLPA's offer included a 24% salary rollback and was likely negotiable in key areas such as luxury tax thresholds and penalties, arbitration and qualifying offers. There could be a workable deal in there, at least for the next three years. So if what Roenick says is actually true, then why not give it a shot and if it doesn't work, hold the NHLPA to it's word - put in a salary cap.

3 Comments:

  • At 5:38 PM, Blogger tealfan said…

    >But if it were true that should the NHLPA system not
    >do it's job within three years, and if the NHLPA would
    >be willing to put it in writing that they would switch
    >to a cap system, then I see no reason as to why there
    >should not have been a season this year.

    I heard a similar report, but according to what I heard the NHL demanded that the NHLPA also agree not to charge the league with collusion if the salary cap were triggered. The NHLPA refused.

    The concern is, of course, that the team owners would ignore the salary drags in the first three years -- whether on purpose or just business as usual -- and then say, "See! We have to have the cap. We're imposing it now." The NHLPA would then almost certainly sue, claiming that the NHL conspired to make the luxury tax system fail so they could unilaterally impose the cap in the fourth year.

    Unfortunately, as much as the proposal appeals to me, I can't really see any way to make it work. Either the NHL puts itself at risk of a lawsuit over collusion or the NHLPA gives the NHL carte blanche to screw up the luxury tax and then impose the salary cap they wanted all along.

    However, if you take it as a given that a cap is going to happen, one thing I really do like about the proposal is that it gives teams a few seasons to adjust their payrolls to get under it. No dispersal drafts, no firesale trades, etc., only a gradual adjustment required from the pre-cap era to the post-cap era.

     
  • At 6:26 PM, Blogger Brett Mirtle said…

    You raise good points.

    To add further to what you were saying, I also surmise that no matter what would happen at the end of three years, there would be polarized opinions on whether the system was actually working or not. The NHL view may be entirely different than what the NHLPA sees.

    Both sides may have an entirely different definition for "what's working". For example, revenues may go up and the inflation of salaries may be halted somewhat, but perhaps not enough for the NHL to accept long term. At the same time, the NHLPA may interpret the exact same data as clear proof that their system does work.

    So really, that leaves them no better of than now. Good grief, can't these guys agree on anything?!?

     
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