From Larry Brooks:
Indeed, several general managers have told Slap Shots they believe a rollback of up to 15 percent plus a round of amnesty buyouts will be necessary at the end of next season in order to accommodate a decrease in the 2010-11 cap that is expected to be meaningful.
A significant drop in the salary cap seems pretty likely to me – there’s a story floating around out there involving a leaked NBA memo cautioning its member teams that their salary cap will be down significantly for the 2010-11 season. I don’t see Brooks’ idea as being very likely to happen though. The PA would have to agree to this and I have a hard time imagining that they would. I kind of see this as a different issue than applying the 5% escalator. Unless a majority of NHL players are without contracts at the end of a given year, it’s never in the interest of the membership as a whole to have the escalator applied. The majority of players would always benefit from a smaller cap, as they’ll get a larger piece of the pie. Still though, agreeing to that is a bit academic – it’s not hard numbers or anything.
A 15% hit is something real. It’s not some ethereal thing that will only come into play at the end of the year. Assuming Brooks’ sources are right though, and such a request will be made, one has to be impressed by the brass balls on NHL management. A year of hockey lost to get an idiot proof CBA, and it takes five years to get to the point where they return, cap in hand, to ask the majority of the players to make concessions to help them get out of the fix.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the way to avoid having to deal with this issue was percentage contracts. As I said in February:
Amend the CBA so that it provides that contracts are expressed in terms of percentage of cap, not absolute dollars. This is, in my view, desireable because it means that general managers would be focused on what percentage of a team’s payroll a player should earn – something that is (in theory, right Dustin Penner?) their strength – rather than having to figure out what percentage of cap is appropriate for that player AND THEN figure out what that amount will be in the 2015-16 season or whatever.
This is also, in my view, desireable from the position of the PA as a whole. Right now, they’re fighting one another for every dollar. If the cap jumps suddenly or falls suddenly, a certain group of them get an unearned windfall – if it jumps a lot, those players who are free agents will get a huge benefit over those who have signed longer term contracts, in that that largesse will be rained upon them. If it falls suddenly, those who have guaranteed contracts already will get a windfall in that the ones without contracts are left fighting over the diminished cap space that remains.
This is more true than ever, I think. The PA should demand this in the next CBA, just to prevent demands like 15% rollbacks and issues like the cap escalator from arising and dividing their membership.