Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/29/07 at 02:53 PM ET
from Neil F. Abbott of Sports Business Journal (paid sub.),
However, there are flaws in the CBA that are causing many GMs significant problems.
For example, teams make decisions in July and August on player contracts. Once decided, a contract under this system becomes inviolate. The warm and fuzzy joy of July signings become the chill of December when you are in 14th place in an eight-team playoff race. Restructuring or altering existing deals is prohibited. It is all or none and the built-in inflexibility of the CBA hinders a GM’s ability to make needed changes that are apparent in December but hidden in July.
Teams are also prevented from rewarding a player who has exceeded expectations and is on a multiyear deal. For example, a 26-year-old on a two-year deal cannot earn any incentive bonuses. If he is successful in year one, the team cannot redo his deal or award him a bonus. While the team could grant him an extension for a third year he must play for the salary set in year two. The absence of a bonus pool for every team prevents a GM from rewarding success and developing continuity in his lineup. A team cannot tear up an existing deal and reward a player who had proved his mettle. This CBA makes it more likely than not that good players will be forced to a new team to achieve the market value they earn by performance with their old team.
Neil F. Abbott has been a sports business lawyer in Boston for 25 years and has represented professional hockey players since 1981.
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