This story is interesting. The NHL players’ Collective Bargaining Agreement expired. The NHL owners made their first offer. It was unreasonably harsh.
According to that article, the NHL owners demanded
- Reduce players’ share of revenues from 57% to 46%.
- Players must be in the NHL for 10 seasons before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
- Contracts can be at most 5 years.
- Eliminate salary arbitration.
- New players get 5 year contracts instead of 3 years.
These are severe concessions.
Actually, (3) is reasonable. Under the current CBA, teams were signing players to ridiculously long contracts, as a cap loophole.
The cut in revenue from 57% to 46% is harsh. That isn’t an 11% cut. It’s actually a 19% cut! (46/57=0.81)
If the owners cut the cap number by 19%, the other stuff is meaningless. With a really low cap, it makes no difference if all players are free agents right away, because the owners’ expenses are limited.
This is an offensive part of CBA negotiations. It’s due to the way State labor law works. Once you make an offer, you know that the final contract will be no better than that offer. Therefore, the owners ask for draconian concessions and then slowly reduce their demands, instead of making a reasonable initial offer.
The NHL Players’ union hired from MLB Players’ Association head Donald Fehr. If the owners aren’t making a serious offer, the players should make the following counteroffer.
- Eliminate the salary cap.
- All players become unrestricted free agents when their contract expires.
- Eliminate the draft. All new players are unrestricted free agents.
- The NHL commissioner must kiss each player’s ass.
With a 19% pay cut demand, it may make rational sense for the players to hold out and miss the season. At the end of the NBA lockout, the players were faced with giving up only 4%, or missing the whole season, making the deal somewhat attractive. However, the NBA players gave up too much in their CBA negotiations.
The owners’ offer is insulting to the NHL players. After cancelling a whole season, the CBA and salary cap was suppose to solve all of the NHL’s problems. It’s insulting for owners to come back now and demand even more severe concessions. The NHL owners saw the NBA and NFL get huge concessions from players in their negotiations. They’re trying to get similar concessions from the NHL players.
The NHL players have to decide if they’re prepared to miss one season or possibly even two seasons. If they are prepared to hold out, they should refuse. If not, they should bend over and accept it. There are professional hockey leagues in other countries, so locked-out NHL players have more options than NBA players. However, if a player was currently under contract, he’d have to sign a contract that lets him come back to the NHL if the lockout expires.
It is offensive, that the NHL made such a draconian demand in their first CBA offer. Unfortunately, State labor law forces owners to do that, because the initial offer becomes a baseline for future negotiations. If the owners started with a reasonable offer, then they’d be negotiating up from there.