As I took a quick look through the NHLPA’s latest proposal, something caught my eye:
(Aside: I don’t even know why the NHLPA has bothered with its much vaunted app. Why not just make TSN.ca the official source of communications with the players and make a few bucks of something that’s inevitably leaked anyway?)
Our players’ share proposal is identical to yours in all material respects except for the amount of the transition payments added to the 50% share. There are no guarantees or fixed targets, other than a requirement that, beginning with the second year of the Agreement, players’ share, expressed in dollars, may not fall below its value for the prior season. This proposal allows us to determine players’ share regardless of the effects of the lockout and its aftermath.
The second sentence there is a gem: “There are no guarantees, except for the guarantee that the amount of dollars that the players get will never decrease” is what it says. So, basically, although the PA has now moved away from saying “We get $X as our share and if you guys grow the business at Y%, you get what you want”, they’re now saying “If you guys have a bad year, that’s your problem, not ours.”
In other words, if revenues ever do shrink, the players will make more than the 50/50 that the NHL is after. The NHLPA has moved away from their initial position here which was a hard number of dollars but only partly – what they’re saying is that they’ll take a hard number of dollars but rather than expressing that number as $X, it becomes a number that will be defined by whatever the NHL pulls in next year. Their share can then never be less than 50% of that amount.
It is therefore a move away from the linkage that the NHL fought so hard for in 2004. Personally (as someone who views the cap and the entire NHL structure as anathema), I don’t see what the problem is. The justification for this is that if the players should take less, part of what they should get for taking less is a transfer of risk of a bad financial year from the players to the owners. It also provides the owners with some incentive to do something about the three or four sucking chest wounds that it has in the southern part of the NHL – an easy way to grow revenues is to put teams into markets that will pay NHL prices to watch hockey.
One would assume that if the idea of running a risk that league revenues won’t be $1.8B or whatever the players wanted was a non-starter for the NHL, so too will guaranteeing any amount, even if that amount is set by whatever the NHL revenues happen to be next year. I’ll be very interested to see if the NHL is complaining about this when the two sides do their duelling press conferences at the end of the day.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org