Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Don’t forget that the NHLPA’s paying Wade Redden and Cristobal Huet’s salaries this year

New York Rangers defenseman Wade Redden cleared waivers today and finds himself heading to Hartford to play for the Wolf Pack (as of February, the Connecticut Whale) of the AHL, and as the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell has his predictable, “It violates the spirit of the CBA!” hissy fit and the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman and Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski weigh in on the situation with less schadenfreude, no one seems to mention that when players on one-way contracts are waived and sent to the AHL (or, in Cristobal Huet’s case, Switzerland) to “bury” the player’s salary cap hits, it’s not the NHL teams who end up having to pay the cap hit. 

That money still counts against a team’s payroll, but once it disappears from the cap, who gets stuck with the eventual bill?  Why, the NHLPA’s members, of course, because one-way contractual money counts against “the players’ share” of revenues, as do salaries paid to injury replacements once teams exceed the cap via the Long-Term Injured Reserve exemption.  Are the CBA “hawks” like Campbell or the more moderate members of the media wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth about the concept that players both pay for general managers’ “mistakes” and, to some extent, have to pay the players who step up for their injured teammates?

Of course not.

During the Ilya Kovalchuk mess, I stuck with my guns and suggested that if nothing the Devils did violated the letter of the CBA’s law, it was and remains my opinion that the Devils didn’t do anything “wrong” by offering Kovalchuk a 17-year, $102 million contract because nothing in the CBA expressly prohibits any sort of term limit on contracts—unless you’re interpreting the “spirit of the CBA” as Richard Bloch chose to—and I’m not about to go back on my opinion and suggest that teams are doing anything “wrong” by clearing salary cap space via waiving players and sending them to the AHL. 

Nothing in the CBA prohibits this, and if teams want to utilize this option to help alleviate a cap crunch, that’s fine by me.  The rules the NHL and NHLPA agreed to play are nothing more and nothing less than, to use deputy commissioner Bill Daly’s term, not-so-“bright lines” that can be manipulated and to some extent exploited by NHL teams, and the same is true of the LTIR exemption.  If either party has a problem with the “spirit” of the CBA as applied in terms of the teams who may or may not utilize the tools available to them for the sake of establishing a competitive advantage, they should address these issues by collective bargaining and not the whims of arbitrators or members of the media crying foul.

At the same time, it must be underlined that it’s not the NHL that takes the financial hit in either situation.  Money NHL teams spend on one-way contracts which no longer count against a team’s salary cap figure still count against the players’ share, and as we all know, when teams exceed the 56-and-change-percentage of revenues which they’re required to spend on players’ salaries, the overage is paid back to the league by its players via escrow withholdings. 

When I mentioned this repeatedly this past summer, I found it hilariously ironic that no member of the NHL’s media corps, the passive-aggressive late-night Twitterer included, were willing to so much as utter a snappy comeback when their laments about players having to pay the brunt of the similarly-buried money hidden in the average value of lifetime contract-holding players’ salary cap hits were answered with this: “Sure, the players take a collective hit for the $15-20 million in funds that count against the players’ share instead of a team’s salary cap number, but it’s clearly met and exceeded by the salaries of players on one-way contracts who are sent to the AHL, never mind the players whose salaries are paid for by their peers thanks to the LTIR exemption”—and that’s the truth of the matter, and it comes as no surprise that the NHL-friendly media chooses to conveniently ignore this part of the equation.

The players’ escrow withholdings are largely drawn from AHL demotions, from both the Redden/Huet-range as well as the players who earn more meager salaries but find themselves ticketed for bus-riding, and the salaries of injury replacements accounted for by the LTIR exemption.  The similarly-buried dollar amounts which lifetime contracts account for are exceeded by a substantial margin by AHL demotions and LTIR exemptions.  That’s just how it works.

There’s nothing illegal going on in terms of violating CBA rules when GM’s pile as much of their cap management “mistakes” and injured players’ salaries onto the players’ share instead of engaging in player-purging gymnastics for the sake of the CBA’s supposed goal of competitive balance.  There’s nothing “wrong” with it, either.  The rules are the rules, and the players agreed to abide by them, too.  It simply merits highlighting, with a “bright line”-marking highlighter, that it’s not the NHL’s teams or owners who are fitting the bill in these sometimes incredibly expensive instances, especially on a cumulative basis. 

If we’re going to be talking about these issues ahead of the next round of CBA negotiations, we might as well tell the whole story instead of the part that’s convenient to furthering our respective points, and when we’re taking about contentious CBA issues, we should take players’ bones of contention into account as well.

Of non-NHLPA-related note: The Malik Report will launch sooner than later, so fear not: regular Red Wings coverage and long-winded commentary should resume shortly.

Update/edit 10:47 AM Tuesday: I’m sure someone has mentioned the fact that teams have to clear cap space for players who return from the LTIR, but I’m speaking very specifically about the many instances of season-ending player injuries, where teams can exceed the cap and don’t need to clear cap space to cover their cap-exceeding overage.

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Comments

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HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Welcome back, George, you were missed..

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 09/27/10 at 11:31 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

As soon as I saw Malik’s name on the byline I stopped reading, took a dump, warmed up some food, rotated the tires, put in for vacation, then came back to the computer to read.

Very nice George.

And who knew the mention of Jake Wood would grab so much attention.  Must be all the old farts….

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 09/28/10 at 12:16 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

And on my legs I’ve either got some flea bites off my cats,  bed bug bites, or that old herpes is flaring up.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 09/28/10 at 12:19 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

And somehow looking at the color dotted map of Detroit I couldn’t stop thinking of Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 09/28/10 at 12:21 AM ET

Avatar

Excellent read, George.

Can’t wait until the Malik Report is up and running.

Posted by Michael Smith from New Jersey on 09/28/10 at 12:28 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

This was a SHORT entry.  raspberry

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 12:28 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’m not about to go back on my opinion and suggest that teams are doing anything “wrong” by clearing salary cap space via waiving players and sending them to the AHL.

I sure as shit will.  The NHL and the league-friendly Bloch-head they got to interpret the bullshit spirit opened this fuching can of worms and they can eat from it the same way they’re trying to shove the wriggling fuchers down each of our throats.  If the “spirit” of the CBA is about competitive balance, then burying high-paid NHL-caliber talent either in the AHL or in Europe is a goddamn farce designed to spit in the face of the players, the fans, and the lawyers who all argued about doing things “in good faith.”

To summarize in the nicest possible way: *#$%@& this bullshit, especially for the Hawks who are *#$%@& everybody both ways running with violating the spirit of the cap on the front end with the Hossa deal and, of course with the reacharound on the back end by burying Huet in obscurity.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/28/10 at 12:39 AM ET

Nate A's avatar

If the “spirit” of the CBA is about competitive balance, then burying high-paid NHL-caliber talent either in the AHL or in Europe is a goddamn farce designed to spit in the face of the players, the fans, and the lawyers who all argued about doing things “in good faith.”

Truth.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 09/28/10 at 12:50 AM ET

Osrt's avatar

Do you walk with a limp George, cuz you a muthafuchin’ Pimp!

Great read and a solid argument that must be reckoned with. Careful, TPSH might want to rub&tug;your beard. Just saying.

Posted by Osrt on 09/28/10 at 12:56 AM ET

Osrt's avatar

Well said J.J. And another reason to hate the Hawks.

Posted by Osrt on 09/28/10 at 12:59 AM ET

Forklift's avatar

Hey, J.J. -

You know I don’t toe the party line here, but before you spew too much venom over the Hossa deal, remember Franzen and Zetterberg?

I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!

Posted by Forklift from Section 315 in the United Center on 09/28/10 at 01:12 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I know that the Franzen and Zetterberg deals would leave the Wings’ cap hit unchanged if the league hadn’t grandfathered in the new rules.  They’re the standard. The ONLY reason the Hossa deal didn’t get retroactively cancelled is because the league didn’t want to deal with the shitstorm they would have brought upon themselves about whether Chicago deserved to keep the cup they won with Hossa on their roster (short answer: yes, they deserve to keep the cup).

Hossa’s deal is “similar”, but they aren’t close.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/28/10 at 01:20 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

George

It is great that somebody is spelling out how unfriendly the CBA is to the players as it currently exists.  We know that the NHL is going to try to re-open some provisions and make it even less player friendly if it can get away with it and a good portion of the public will be on the NHL’s side hoping the players give in - which is what happened in 2005.  The NHL management wrote this CBA and the players got a raw deal.  The NHL will make it even worse for the players if they get the opportunity.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 09/28/10 at 01:49 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

As soon as I saw Malik’s name on the byline I stopped reading, took a dump, warmed up some food, rotated the tires, put in for vacation, then came back to the computer to read.

Damn good to have an orderly sense of priorities…I usually try to grab a shake too, if you know what i mean.

And who knew the mention of Jake Wood would grab so much attention.  Must be all the old farts….

Holy Hell if I woulda bet my broken Dick McAuliffe autograph-model bat that no one woulda given a damn about Jake Wood…Little-known factoid: Jake Wood’s brother Richard (yeah, that’s right Richard Wood muthafuchas!) played in the NFL!!!

Do you walk with a limp George, cuz you a muthafuchin’ Pimp!

Having a bad-ass pimp cane makes me soooo Jake Wood!!

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 09/28/10 at 02:43 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I hate the concept that anybody has to pay to play, so to speak, and the players get screwed seven ways from Sunday in the current agreement, but there’s at least a way to deal with the 10-15% in escrow they’ve been paying of late—by working through the collective bargaining process—and it’s both important for the players to know how to rectify the situation so that they get involved with the PA…

And it’s important to know that they’re stuck with the CBA they agreed to abide by without any sort of third party saying, “Okay, player without a law or business degree, here’s what this means for you.” 

When Ted Saskin, Trevor Linden and, to some extent Vincent Damphousse overthrew Bob Goodenow, they cobbled together the remainder of the CBA they, Bill Daly and the NHL’s lawyers (McCambridge and Bob Batterman included) had already crafted, and they told the PA to sign off on it without much fuss. 

As much of a vocal PA supporter as I am, the players signed off on what they’re working with, and while I really hate escrow and how the players pay into it (again, more from LTIR and Redden/Huet cases by far than “lifetime” deals), I hate the concept that even players on two-way deals have to fight against an AHL salary cap of $105,000 (that’s a big reason why so many borderline NHL’ers are going to Europe: they can make much more money with just as realistic a chance of being recalled to the NHL as any AHL’er who’s subject to re-entry waivers), I hate many aspects of the CBA that are both player-unfriendly and team-unfriendly—the whole purpose of the CBA is to destabilize teams and disperse talent around the league, and that hurts teams that draft and develop well, which seems like nonsense to me as someone who pays money to watch his team win and wants to invest in jerseys that won’t become useless next season—but we’re at the point where even I can’t rip into the document too heavily given that the Kovalchuk ruling got everybody thinking about what happens next.

What should happen next is that both sides will address the sticky wickets that drive them nuts, like escrow, the revenue sharing program that daffily raids teams’ playoff revenues (their biggest moneymaker) for the sake of the league’s “weaker sister” teams, the narrow payroll range, lifetime deals, you name it, and hopefully both sides will come to a new CBA that they can live with before this one expires in 2012.

I keep on getting the feeling that it’s the NHL that would be more than willing to lock out its players once again to roll back salaries, reduce the players’ share, etc. than the NHLPA, Donald Fehr included, would be willing to strike for the first time since 92, and in the third, “We’ll burn down the village in order to save it” scenario over the course of 15 seasons, I think the NHL’s vastly underestimating the concept that it can tell its fans to take a year off and come crawling back when the league feels like doing business…

But that Levitt report bull**** worked before, and it might work again. 

I don’t mean to go on like myself on a damn tangent from hell, but the CBA stinks in many respects for players and teams alike, and they’re the ones that have to sit down and work out their differences, at least to a, “We can live with the compromise” point, sooner than later so that the paying fans like you and me can keep paying their salaries during the 2012-2013 season. 

In the interim, I’m gonna keep talking about issues from a PA-friendly perspective, but at the same time, the rules are the rules.  Even if they suck.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 02:46 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 12:46 AM ET

George, your status as resident “voice-of-reason” hereby remains intact.  Though the finer points of the current CBA going forward are yet to be hammered out through collective bargaining, the reality remains that the current deal is so bad that it actually fails to serve the interest of anyone involved.  Players.  Fans.  Management.  Lose.  Lose.  Lose.  Not exactly a recipe for the long term health of the game, and a source of concern for those of us who continue to give a damn.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 09/28/10 at 03:13 AM ET

Lucce's avatar

Excellent reading once again.

On the biggest Swedish fanbase site today, redwings are ranked as number nine in their countdown. I believe we will be runner up for presidents trophy.

Posted by Lucce from Kingdom of Zweden on 09/28/10 at 03:24 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

[applause]

Been waiting for one of the authors on KK to bring this perspective, it is sorely needed.

I tend to side with the players as well, but to me, the most important thing is what you said in your comment after the post—the current CBA punishes teams for doing well, and that’s about as backwards as it can get. If you do well on the ice, you can be sure you’ll have to lose a small handful of the players you drafted and/or developed. If you do well in the pocketbook, you have to subsidize Phoenix and Nashville, when you should be using that money to put back into your own organization.

This is the problem with the CBA that I cannot live with. I don’t like a cap either, but I realize that’s inevitable. I also realize that some form of revenue sharing is inevitable. But there has to be a way to let teams who succeed reap the benefits of their hard work.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/28/10 at 10:02 AM ET

Andy from FightNight's avatar

As I said on Twitter last night, I really think the next CBA should have a clause that guards against this. If a player with a one-way deal and a cap hit over a certain level (maybe 1.5 mill, or some level like that) gets demoted to the AHL or shipped to Europe, his cap hit, or at least parts of it, should stay on the books. That way teams can’t wiggle away from their mistakes and guys like Redden and Huet doesn’t get banished from the NHL long term just because their agents were a little too good and their teams a little too stupid when negotiating their contracts.

Posted by Andy from FightNight on 09/28/10 at 11:12 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

I’m glad someone understands enough of the CBA AND has an English degree to enable him to explain it to me.

With in-your-face PA representation we may see a strike/lockout of a vicious and harmful character previously unseen in hockey, which may be saying something.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 09/28/10 at 11:13 AM ET

Nate A's avatar

The rules are the rules. And normally I’d agree. But the league and the Bloch decision turned the rules into double standards. They cant have “spirit of the cap” both ways, and the PA should be throwing that right back in their stupid faces.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 09/28/10 at 12:28 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

As I said on Twitter last night, I really think the next CBA should have a clause that guards against this. If a player with a one-way deal and a cap hit over a certain level (maybe 1.5 mill, or some level like that) gets demoted to the AHL or shipped to Europe, his cap hit, or at least parts of it, should stay on the books. That way teams can’t wiggle away from their mistakes and guys like Redden and Huet doesn’t get banished from the NHL long term just because their agents were a little too good and their teams a little too stupid when negotiating their contracts.

Posted by Andy from FightNight on 09/28/10 at 09:12 AM ET

I think that’s really only half the equation… important, yes, but only part of the full solution. That type of change is good in that it helps the players with escrow and it gives the shrewd front offices a little edge.

But forcing teams to live with their cap mistakes is just negative reinforcement… it punishes the crummy clubs, sure, but does nothing to reward the good ones. The good clubs that develop talent and fill their buildings are still going to be subject to having to let talent walk away when entry-level contracts for their best players expire, and they still have to bail out Phoenix, Nashville, Atlanta, and Florida.

Mistakes should have consequences, so I like the idea. I’m just saying that I think it’s even more important to have rewards for success. Otherwise, we run the risk of having a league of complete mediocrity, where it’s more beneficial to have a decent club than it is to have a truly great one.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/28/10 at 12:35 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

With in-your-face PA representation we may see a strike/lockout of a vicious and harmful character previously unseen in hockey, which may be saying something.

Posted by RWBill from the Capital of the Confederacy. on 09/28/10 at 09:13 AM ET

If there’s a stoppage, I’d bet a cold case of your favorite watery, domestic brew that it’s a lockout.

The PA will not strike. They can’t afford it. Remember how heavily they were blamed for work stoppages that they weren’t responsible for?

It seems like there’s something in most fans’ psyches that makes them look at millionaire athletes and think that the athletes should simply act as if they’re being gifted their lots in life. It may seem to the average Joe that playing in the NHL is a privilege, but it’s not like the players just get paid millions to fap it all day.

I’m not arguing their jobs are critically important to a society the way a doctor, soldier, teacher, etc. are. But they are jobs nonetheless, jobs that frankly demand an attention to detail and determination that I highly doubt most of us have to put into our jobs, because they are constantly under scrutiny as a result of their large paychecks and the public nature of their work.

Also, it seems like these fans forget that they’re the ones that enable these athletes to make so much money. We buy the tickets, watch the telecasts, order CenterIce, buy hats, t-shirts, and jerseys…

Lastly, I think there’s something in this same psyche where fans think that the athlete is a spoiled, rich, entitled brat, and therefore the other side of the argument (the owners and league) must be better, must be the lowly but noble peasants. They never stop to think and realize that the owners are actually far richer than the players they pay. And that just like fans have the ability to control the situation with their pocketbooks, the owners have a tenfold ability to do so… if they don’t want to sign a player for $X, they don’t have to.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/28/10 at 12:46 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

There’s no way in hell that the NHLPA will strike.  Fehr and the PA understand that any sort of player-led “work stoppage” would kill the sport.  The players have no desire to strike, either—they want to play during the 2012-2013 season. 

It’s the NHL’s seeming willingness to conduct a third lockout that scares me.  Even with Donald Fehr at the helm, the NHLPA should be considered a “dove” to the NHL’s “hawks” in terms of any sort of desire to screw with their fans for the sake of “cleaning up mistakes.”

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 01:02 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

In all honesty, I don’t have a problem with teams sending players down to the minors to clear cap space from a “we’re going to be able to keep the ‘band’ together” standpoint and a fan’s standpoint—or signing them to two-way deals, as the Wings have with Downey and Maltby, and are going to end up sending one-way contracts in Meech and possibly Ritola down, because dropping Meech = the Wings being able to keep another important roster player, but I have a problem with where the money comes from.

It should come from HRR, not the players’ share.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 01:13 PM ET

Forklift's avatar

The worst part of this whole mess is, the owners locked out for a year in order to get a salary cap, and are now doing everything in their power to circumnavigate said cap.

I expect them to lock out again in 2012. Faux our lives.

Posted by Forklift from Section 315 in the United Center on 09/28/10 at 01:54 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

As I said on XM Radio’s Home Ice, this kind of mess brings into account the fact that Brian Burke’s “I’ll take on some cap space to further a trade” proposal would help rectify this situation.  If a player wants to play in the NHL, the concept of taking on some “dead space” while remaining a part of a team’s cap hit instead of shoving it onto the players’ share would help teams move players they no longer find palatable without having to dump them in the AHL.

There are many variables involved here and there are many possible solutions to these sticky wickets.  The more we talk about solutions—and the more we admit that, to some extent, both sides need to talk about the parts of the agreement they find unpalatable BEFORE any sort of lockout agenda develops—the better.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 02:01 PM ET

Avatar

Why, the NHLPA’s members, of course, because one-way contractual money counts against “the players’ share” of revenues

Nope.  All one way contracts do not count against the Players Share of revenues.

Escrow and the 54-57% Players Share is based on Actual Club Salary.

Players on loan are not on the Club’s Active Roster, Injured
Reserve, Injured Non Roster or Non Roster lists, and do NOT count as
part of a teams Actual Club Salary - which is what is used to calculate
aggregate compensation and compared against the 54-57% Players Share for
escrow.

The money being paid to Redden & Huet is in addition to the Player’s
guaranteed 57% - so it is not taking any money from other players.

CBA Article 50.2(c):

(c) “Actual Club Salary.” “Actual Club Salary” shall mean the entire
aggregate amount committed by each Club in a League Year, annualized,
but calculated
daily, to be paid or earned as Player Salaries and Bonuses in that
League Year (and which
is intended to include any and all other commitments to Players as set
forth below), with
such Player Salaries and Bonuses calculated in accordance with this
Section 50.2(c).
Actual Club Salary does not include Benefits. Actual Club Salary is
utilized to calculate
the League-wide Player Compensation, as contrasted with Averaged Club
Salary, set
forth in Section 50.5(d)(i) below, which is utilized to determine a
Club’s Payroll Room.
For purposes of calculating League-wide Player Compensation for a given
League Year,
as set forth in the Final HRR Report, the Actual Club Salary shall
include the Players’
Salaries and Bonuses and any other amounts of money paid by the Clubs
(except that
Deferred Salaries and Deferred Bonuses are included in Actual Club
Salary in the League
Year when earned, not when paid), including any amounts deposited into
the Escrow
Account.

For each League Year, “Actual Club Salary” for each Club shall be
calculated as the sum of the following amounts:

(i) The aggregate Player Salaries and Bonuses paid or earned for that
League Year for all Players on the Club’s Active Roster, Injured
Reserve, Injured Non Roster and Non Roster
; plus

(ii) All amounts earned in that League Year by Players on account of
Deferred Salary and Deferred Bonuses (in accordance with Section
50.2(a) and Section 50.2(b) respectively); plus

(iii) All Ordinary Course Buyout Amounts paid in that League Year (in
accordance with Section 50.9(i)); plus

(iv) All Player Salary and Bonuses earned in a League Year by a Player
who is in the second or later year of a multi-year SPC which was
signed when the Player was age 35 or older (as of June 30 prior to
the League Year in which the SPC is to be effective), regardless of
whether, or where, the Player is playing, except to the extent the
Player is playing under his SPC in the minor leagues, in which
case only the Player Salary and Bonuses in excess of $100,000
shall count towards the calculation of Actual Club Salary; plus

(v) For SPCs entered into prior to the execution of this Agreement, the
face amount of any vested option, the face amount resultant from a
salary revision, a salary or bonus guarantee, or other such
compensatory provision in such 1995 Standard Player Contracts
(see also Exhibit 16 of this Agreement regarding options); plus

(vi) With respect to any new Player Salary or Bonus dispute between a
Player and a Club arising after the execution of this Agreement
(i.e., relating to Player Salary and Bonuses payable on account of
the 2005-06 League Year or any subsequent League Year), any
amount paid (excluding interest) in satisfaction of any award or
judgment relating to, or settlement of, any such dispute, but only to
the extent that such amounts have not otherwise been included in
the Player’s Player Salary or Bonuses.

Posted by kdb209 on 09/28/10 at 02:17 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

What a great discussion. These are important issues that affect the game of hockey. These issue affect everyone involved in hockey, not just the owner’s and players, but the fans, arena workers, merchandise sellers, businesses near the arenas,etc. Which explains why none of the pen(i)s trolls that have been spamming A2Y over the last couple of weeks have posted in this thread.

The sad fact of the matter is that a hockey lockout/strike next season won’t even merit a footnote in sports media coverage because of the expected NFL and NBA lockouts/strikes. Satan Bettman and his Satanic Brother Satan Fehr need to get their head out of there asses and realize they are not dealing with the NBA or MLB, but a marginalized sport that trails nascar and even soccer (in some markets). If they can resolve their issues without a work stoppage and the NFL the NBA have work stoppages next fall, then the NHL will receive much more coverage on the evil four letter and other media outlets.

If Bettman and Fehr have even a quarter of the intelligence that they are alleged to have, the two would sit down this afternoon with a single pen and sheet of paper and extend the contract under the current terms by one year. Then, when/if the NFL and NBA work stoppages occur, the NHL will be there for the sports media and sports fan with exciting games to watch.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 09/28/10 at 02:22 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

If it’s in terms of buried money, how does the ACS account for HRR?  That’s the sticky wicket here—that HRR that exceeds the salary cap is certainly paid out by teams, but my understanding of the CBA is that the money’s paid back via escrow withholdings:

<blokcquote>Actual Club Salary is
utilized to calculate
the League-wide Player Compensation, as contrasted with Averaged Club
Salary, set
forth in Section 50.5(d)(i) below, which is utilized to determine a
Club’s Payroll Room.
For purposes of calculating League-wide Player Compensation for a given
League Year,
as set forth in the Final HRR Report, the Actual Club Salary shall
include the Players’
Salaries and Bonuses and any other amounts of money paid by the Clubs
(except that
Deferred Salaries and Deferred Bonuses are included in Actual Club
Salary in the League
Year when earned, not when paid), including any amounts deposited into
the Escrow
Account. <blockquote>

There’s the escrow issue, right there, and if league-wide player compensation exceeds 56-and-change percent of revenues, it has to be paid back via escrow.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 02:34 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

In all honesty, I don’t have a problem with teams sending players down to the minors to clear cap space from a “we’re going to be able to keep the ‘band’ together” standpoint and a fan’s standpoint—or signing them to two-way deals, as the Wings have with Downey and Maltby, and are going to end up sending one-way contracts in Meech and possibly Ritola down, because dropping Meech = the Wings being able to keep another important roster player, but I have a problem with where the money comes from.

It should come from HRR, not the players’ share.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 11:13 AM ET

I don’t have a problem with it either, but I guess my point is that the only reason I support it is because the NHL has no other mechanism by which it rewards clubs for success. If there were a “proper” mechanism (like a “Bird Rule” or something) by which clubs like Detroit could retain the talent they drafted and/or developed, then I’d support closing this loophole because A) it wouldn’t hold players’ careers hostage because their club made bad decisions, and B) it would give a further edge to those clubs that are making good, shrewd signings, and avoiding overpaying for less.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/28/10 at 02:40 PM ET

Avatar

If it’s in terms of buried money, how does the ACS account for HRR?  That’s the sticky wicket here—that HRR that exceeds the salary cap is certainly paid out by teams, but my understanding of the CBA is that the money’s paid back via escrow withholdings:

“Actual Club Salary is utilized to calculate the League-wide Player Compensation, as contrasted with Averaged Club Salary, set forth in Section 50.5(d)(i) below, which is utilized to determine a Club’s Payroll Room.”

The 54-57% Players Share is based on Actual Club Salary.

If “League-wide Player Compensation”  - which includes total Actual Club Salary (50.2(c)) and Benefits (50.3(a)) - exceeds the 54-57% Players Share of HRR, then that excess is taken from the Player’s escrow.

However, the Salary paid to Redden & Huet (& any other players loaned to another league) is explicitly excluded from the team’s Actual Club Salary under 50.2(c)(i) since Redden & Huet are not on the teams Active Roster, Injured Reserve, Injured Non Roster, or Non Roster lists:

(i) The aggregate Player Salaries and Bonuses paid or earned for that
League Year for all Players on the Club’s Active Roster, Injured
Reserve, Injured Non Roster and Non Roster
; plus

So Redden’s & Huet’s salries are not included in their teams Actual Club Salaries (or in League-wide Player Compensation) and thus have no impact on escrow.  No one else is paying for those salaries (except of course for Charles dolan and Rocky Wirtz).

This is different from the case of players on LTIR - who would be either on the Injured Reserve or Injured Non Roster lists - whose salaries (as well as their replacements’ salaries) would be included in Actual Club Salary.

Posted by kdb209 on 09/28/10 at 03:25 PM ET

Avatar

If either party has a problem with the “spirit” of the CBA as applied in terms of the teams who may or may not utilize the tools available to them for the sake of establishing a competitive advantage, they should address these issues by collective bargaining and not the whims of arbitrators or members of the media crying foul.

Why is collective bargaining inherently better than using an arbitrator?  In both situations, both sides come to an agreement and live by the decision.  The complaint about arbitration being “bad” and “whimsical” seems like its just because the abitration decision didn’t go the way you thought it should.  Both parties agreed to settle the dispute via an arbitrator, that agreement was their bargaining.  They could have continued to go to arbitration on subsequent contracts as well, hoping for a better outcome, but instead they choose to come to an agreement and more clearly define the terms of the CBA regarding “intentionally circumventing the CBA”. 

Someone needed to draw a line in the sand.  I’m glad the two sides got together and did it, I just don’t understand why they would say “here are the new rules, the Devils/Kovy have never submitted a contract that will fit within these rules, but we’re going to let one more contract violate these rules, and then its over”

Posted by Entropy on 09/28/10 at 03:42 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

So Redden’s & Huet’s salries are not included in their teams Actual Club Salaries (or in League-wide Player Compensation) and thus have no impact on escrow.  No one else is paying for those salaries (except of course for Charles dolan and Rocky Wirtz).

This is different from the case of players on LTIR - who would be either on the Injured Reserve or Injured Non Roster lists - whose salaries (as well as their replacements’ salaries) would be included in Actual Club Salary.

Posted by kdb209 on 09/28/10 at 01:25 PM ET

I think you are mostly correct. I think the caveat is how the NHL defines a “loaned” player. The CBA, as usual, is a little murky. It first says that everyone on the reserve list counts as part of the ACS, then it says, oh, well not loaned players.

Then when describing loaned players, it expressly talks about how the AHL is the only recognized minor league NHL players can be loaned to. But then there are vague passages where it makes reference to a player being loaned to a European club.

So, go figure… smile

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/28/10 at 03:54 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Oy vey, things get curiouser and curiouser…

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 03:58 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Why is collective bargaining inherently better than using an arbitrator?

I think this was an inference you made, not something George was saying or even trying to imply.

In both situations, both sides come to an agreement and live by the decision.  The complaint about arbitration being “bad” and “whimsical” seems like its just because the abitration decision didn’t go the way you thought it should.  Both parties agreed to settle the dispute via an arbitrator, that agreement was their bargaining.  They could have continued to go to arbitration on subsequent contracts as well, hoping for a better outcome, but instead they choose to come to an agreement and more clearly define the terms of the CBA regarding “intentionally circumventing the CBA”.

Posted by Entropy on 09/28/10 at 01:42 PM ET

That’s not really the point. Arbitration is a fine way to determine if the Kovalchuk contract (or any other contract) violates some rule (or mystical spirit) of the CBA. Again, I don’t think George has said or even implied that he thinks arbitration bad or a problem in the context of settling a decision about a single contract that is borderline foul.

I don’t want to put words into George’s mouth, so I’ll just say this part as MY opinion.

The problem with the situation was that the NHL has used the arbitration decision to force an ultimatum upon the NHLPA—either alienate Kovalchuk and a small group of important star players by rejecting this deal, or alienate your “middle class” by accepting the deal to modify the CBA “on the fly.”

This is akin to the NHLPA trying to stage a strike in the middle of a season in which they already have a full CBA in place and agreed upon, demanding changes to that existing, signed agreement in order for them to continue to work under the contract they already agreed to work under… in really funny terms, it’s like… “No takesies backsies!”

Could you imagine how many fans would be furious with the players if they tried something like that? Meanwhile, the league office does it and most fans either A) barely notice or B) support the decision because perception of athletes versus owners in the American sports landscape is seriously weird.

In short, I’m of the school that the NHL got the CBA they wanted, and now they should have to deal with it as is till it expires. If anything, the PAs concession on this issue, allowing the league to amend the PA on the fly, shows that they want nothing more than to AVOID another work-stoppage. So all the Fehr Fear Mongers can take a chill pill…

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 09/28/10 at 04:08 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

However, the Salary paid to Redden & Huet (& any other players loaned to another league) is explicitly excluded from the team’s Actual Club Salary under 50.2(c)(i) since Redden & Huet are not on the teams Active Roster, Injured Reserve, Injured Non Roster, or Non Roster lists:

What makes up the “Non Roster List”?

Wouldn’t Redden & Huet be listed as Non Roster players while their salaries are being paid?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/28/10 at 04:19 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Arbitration in itself isn’t a good or bad thing—in the Kovalchuk case, the NHL very specifically chose to take a case to a specific arbitrator based upon the assumption, and it was a correct assumption, that they could amend the CBA without collectively bargaining it and force that amendment down the players’ throats. 

It was expressly calculated to establish a limitation on the ways which “lifetime” contracts were structured by finding an NHL-friendly arbitrator and arguing a case they knew he’d buy into instead of sitting down with the PA and amending the agreement in a quid pro quo manner.

As for who counts as a “roster” or “non-roster” player, I think this clause helps explain why it’s so damn complicated to figure out whether the team or the players are paying for that AHL player’s salary.  As far as I know, a player sent to the AHL is not a roster player.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/28/10 at 04:24 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

CapGeek.com has Huet listed as a Non-Roster player.

For Detroit, they have guys like Jordan Owens, Corey Emmerton, Mattias Ritola, and even Hat-Trick Dick Axelsson listed as Non-Roster player.

I have a feeling that each of those salaries being paid DO count towards the players’ share.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/28/10 at 04:33 PM ET

Pharazon's avatar

JJ, all those Wings guys you mentioned are on 2 way contracts, doesn’t the AHL team fot the bill for those?

Posted by Pharazon from England on 09/28/10 at 04:40 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com