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What The NHL CBA Proposal Really Says

from Jonathan Willis of the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,

If the NHL gets its way on some of its demands – particularly it’s insistence that players sign five-year deals capped at the rookie maximum – that trickle will expand. To use an Oilers’ example, why would Nail Yakupov be willing to sign for five years on a contract with a base salary of less than $1 million when he could expect to make much more money much sooner in Russia? Particularly if, upon the completion of his five-year entry-level NHL deal, he could look forward to five more years of restricted free agency? Even if he were willing to do so, it seems likely that future drafts would see European players increasingly consider the Kontinental Hockey League as a viable option.

Another interesting wrinkle is the NHL/KHL memorandum of understanding. As things stand, the KHL respects NHL contracts, not poaching talent on deals, and the NHL does likewise. If, however, the NHL starts kneecapping its teams’ ability to compete financially with the KHL, the incentive of the Russian league to respect NHL rules would undoubtedly be greatly reduced.

The possibility exists that the league owners don’t care. What they’re asking for is a huge spike in the amount of money they get to take home, massive restrictions on the negotiating power of individual players, and a much longer time period before talented youngsters start earning big money.


Filed in: NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink


RWBill's avatar

Makng over $70000 a game, this is not really a big deal for him.

Posted by RWBill on 07/14/12 at 06:19 PM ET


It’s funny how otherwise red-blooded capitalist get just plain red when it comes to hockey player earning what the market bears.

Posted by Callmejerry on 07/14/12 at 07:20 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Yep.  It’s already hard enough to convince Eastern European talent to come over. This is going to be the death knell.

The REAL problem comes the first time highly-touted Canadian boys decide that they want to start over in the KHL because they can make more money.  The NHL doesn’t take the European competition seriously and that is going to bite them in the ass.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/14/12 at 08:37 PM ET

YYZerman's avatar

It’s crazy to think that even Canadian players will want to play in the NHL. I know it’s their “dream”, but the deal keeps getting worse after that. They’re locked into a team for 10 years. That’s pretty much a players career. What if they don’t like the coach or the coach doesn’t like them but the owner likes the coach? Maybe the players should ask for a “no trade” for every player in their first ridiculous offer. I just can’t believe they even proposed this. It makes it seem like they don’t even want a deal.

Posted by YYZerman from Detroit, Michigan on 07/14/12 at 09:14 PM ET


Well they were pretty much locked into their drafted for 10+ years under the old CBA when the UFA age was 31.

Even with this I don’t see US and Canadian players going over to the KHL, if this does happen (it won’t it is an initial offer in a negotiation). NA players don’t have the value to the KHL like the Russian players do to give big offers. And like othersnhave said the NHL doesn’t care if the Russians come over as long as the topnNA players stay.

Posted by Jkrdevil on 07/14/12 at 09:39 PM ET

Primis's avatar

There is no “competing” with the KHL financially.  Some, not all, of the KHL teams could afford to overpay one or two NHLers max.  And not long-term probably as many of the KHL teams have financial struggles of their own.

And that’s still assuming any given player is willing to uproot, move to Russia, and risk himself in various ways (poor medical staff, exposure to the mob, loss of personal rights, political pressure, etc).

The KHL still will not be threat to the NHL.  There is no KHL waiting there with teams looking to pillage 5 or 6 NHLers per club.  Economics simply won’t allow it.  TYhe KHL is not a Boogeyman.

Posted by Primis on 07/14/12 at 10:18 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

well yeah they can go play in the KHL & gamble on their life with every airplane flight

Posted by Evilpens on 07/14/12 at 10:30 PM ET

Alan's avatar

The shortsightedness of the NHL with regards to its competition will be its downfall.

But sure, go ahead and put these restrictions in place, and watch as every player worth a damn signs in Russia instead.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 07/14/12 at 10:31 PM ET


I think there is a general overestimation about a) the attraction to playing overseas regardless of increased rate and b) the actual existence of enough increased compensation to make a difference.

That said, I think the NHL’s general idea is moderately self-destructive, and I tend to think I’m right because their last CBA was moderately self-destructive, as was the one before that.

The fundamental flaw that the NHL seems unable to recognize is that it is impossible to legislate the stupidity and desperation of GMs and Owners out of the game.  There is no CBA in existence which can make Scott Howson into a competent GM.  There is no CBA in existence which could make the previous owners of the Lightning successful owners.

Et cetera.

In any CBA for any league that enjoys anything less than NFL-level support there will always be 6-8 teams who struggle to perform economically because there are always at least 6-8 badly run, poorly owned teams in any given league.

That’s a feature of competitive sports, not a bug which Bettman ought to be targeting.  If there is no real, substantive penalty for being stupid then it’s almost impossible for there to be any real, substantive benefits to intelligence.

The stupid mistake Bettman makes over and over again is in trying to legislate competitive variety out of his sport.  IMO he tries to do this because in order for the NHL to ‘grow’ (in his opinion) he needs non-traditional markets to succeed in the league, and in order for that to happen he has to try and make ‘success’ as much of a dice roll as possible.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/14/12 at 10:41 PM ET

Primis's avatar

But sure, go ahead and put these restrictions in place, and watch as every player worth a damn signs in Russia instead.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 07/14/12 at 08:31 PM ET

As I pointed out in the post above yours, the KHL is not a viable competitor in that regard.  Scores of players CANNOT just defect, because the finances aren’t there for the KHL to sign them.

The KHL’s own finances own’t allow them to.  Forget caps and rules: the KHL is hanging by a shoestring financially NOW as it stands, they cannot suddenly go out and signing NHLers.  Nor can they compete and offer the NHLers more than the NHL.

In the end, it would just mean a few more Russians (and I do mean a few, just a handful) because that’s all the KHL can afford.

Posted by Primis on 07/15/12 at 01:48 AM ET


Maybe North American players won’t want to play in Russia, but Swedes and Finns might. A proposal like this would open the door to domestic competition, I would think. Increasing the UFA age and tying players to two five year contracts will make signing with a new league attractive.

Posted by Thomas from Bellingham, WA on 07/15/12 at 05:38 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Yeah AGAIN if you want to gamble with your Life every time you get on a plane

Posted by Evilpens on 07/15/12 at 06:24 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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