Collective Bargaining Agreement- Possible Lockout?
The NHL and the NHLPA's relationship has been one of the most dysfunctional relationships between a sports league and its' players in recent sports history. The lockout during the 2004-05 season put a big divot in NHL spectators, considering the NHL lost their television contract to ESPN and the primetime contract for a game a week on ABC. Luckily, the NHL has gained viewership, revenue, attendance, and youth participation since the league lost a full season.
Going into the offseason, it was reported that both sides of the CBA were seeking an appropriate deal. The NHL and the board of governors offered the first proposal for a new CBA right before talks began between the players association and the league. As reported by multiple media outlets, the proposed CBA cuts 19% of players revenue. The past CBA states that the players will see 57% of the revenue, but the proposed CBA is calling for 46% of hockey related revenue to be allocated to the players.
Besides the shrinking of the hockey-related revenues, the proposed CBA had plenty of other aspects to which the players did not see as 'fair'. First, contract length would not be longer than five years. Not only would no contract go for more than five years, but the player will be paid the same each year, making it impossible to front-load or back-load contracts. To go along with limiting the amount of money players could see in their career, the proposed CBA would not allow any salary arbitration or any signing bonuses a player might receive for signing a contract with a team.
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Clearly, there are two sides to every story. The owners of the NHL have been waiting since the last lockout to change some of their mistakes. Teams like the Phoenix Coyotes cannot continue running at a deficit every season. NHL players have had a while under the old CBA, which made them the most paid players association in terms of percentage's with 57%. Considering the NHL is dwarfed by the fanhood of the NFL and NBA, it is impossible for the NHLPA to think they can keep receiving 57% of hockey-related revenues.
The NHL and NHLPA have had meetings since the end of the season, with nothing much stemming from the talks. The proposed CBA clearly did not halt talks considering talks continued on Friday. Although many media sources reported the proposed CBA as a sign of "war" between the NHL and NHLPA, it probably just serves as a rough draft at the negotiation table. If the NHL actually will not budge on any of the issues and no progress comes from the next couple of talks, then the league's actions can be considered 'season-threatening'.
By: Stephen London
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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