Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

The 10,000 Pound Gorilla In The Room

As hockey fans enjoy the Stanley Cup playoffs, it is hard not to think about the problems on the horizon.  The Central Bargaining Agreement ends this summer.  There was a season lost to lockout the last time this occurred.  The NHL essentially broke the player’s union and dictated the CBA.  They brought in a salary cap and escrow system.  It turns out the NHL decided that isn’t good enough for them.  The main reason for that is the player’s union is still weak and will have little choice but to give in to NHL demands. 

Currently the players get 57% of defined NHL revenue under the salary cap system.  This number will be reduced to 50% or less.  Likely there will be some disruption in NHL play to accomplish this.  The pre-season will be interrupted and the start of the season may be delayed.

My thought on this is I want the NHL to shut up about this and just play hockey without interrupton.  The NHL has had a rapidly growing revenue base that grows much faster than inflation.  The league as a whole is healthy.  Some individual teams are not healthy financially and this is because they are in bad markets.  There may not be 30 legitimate NHL markets.  This isn’t a CBA issue.  Anyone suggesting the CBA should fix this is ignoring the problem that the markets lose money consistently and the CBA did not cause that.

I don’t really like the salary cap system.  I don’t like how it has created a league without elite teams.  There certainly aren’t any this year.  That is a loss for hockey fans.  There is nothing on the table likely to fix this.  The problem most fans bring up is that they want the salary floor lowered.  We want more zombie franchises with no chance of winning.  Probably some markets will be perpetual zombies that never have a significant payroll.  That is progress apparently.

It is hard to blame the players for any of this.  The NHL is demanding all the changes and the changes are not in hockey’s best interests.  The only interest that matters is the wallets of the NHL.  The players are irrelevant to the process.  They buckle under and accept whatever the NHL offers.  It is Donald Fehr`s job to find a way to make them relevant and I don`t see how he will succeed.  The fans are held hostage in the process.  There will likely be a disruption in play at the beginning of the season while billionaires (owners) bicker about how to get more money in their pockets and the millionaires (players) give in to their demands.  The new system will likely be even worse for the fan if history is a guide.  But hey we have the playoffs to enjoy and pretend that isn`t the real big story.

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Central Bargaining Agreement? Awesome.

Posted by Brain dead on 05/17/12 at 02:16 PM ET

habman's avatar

I believe that’s the COLLECTIVE Bargaining Agreement.

Posted by habman on 05/17/12 at 02:47 PM ET


there will be no lockout. no way. not gonna happen. the revenue # will not go down to 50% or less. it may go down a couple of percentage points, if at all, but will remain well over 50%. the salary cap will not be reduced. the floor, however, will be reduced. there will be changes to term length of player’s contracts and also buyouts. re-alignment will be negotiated as well as plans for expansion and relocation. the nhl will be a 32 team league at the end of the next cba. there is too much on the table for the owners to lockout players, and players will not strike. the notion that there will be no hockey to start the 2012-13 season is absurd and amateur.

Posted by PuckMucker from detroit on 05/17/12 at 02:50 PM ET

Keyser S.'s avatar

I believe it’s just called THE COLLECTIVE. You will be assimilated!

I have a hard time believing there’s going to be another lockout. There’s only so much hockey fans will endure. And it seems (mostly) everyone is happy. Players are making more money now than before. And hockey is popular in every nhl city and making oogles of money. Wait…..let make think about this.

Posted by Keyser S. on 05/17/12 at 02:56 PM ET


I actually think they’ll just sign a one-year extension and negotiate during the year. The GMs have been told, THIS WEEK, to assume the cap is 70 million next year. If the revenue were decreasing from 57 to 50% there’s no way to square the instructions given to the GMs.

The PA members and about 2/3 of the owners are making money hand over foot. There’s no way those parties shut it down for any prolonged period of time over the issues presently facing the league, which are primarily issues between 2 factions of owners and have nothing to do with the PA.

Posted by larry from pitt on 05/17/12 at 03:34 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The NFL and NBA have significantly weaker players’ unions than the NHL and MLB.

I expect the negotiations to go more like the MLB’s than the others.  I don’t expect that the players share will drop to 50% or that the bigger teams have the stomach to survive a long work stoppage to get that with the players constantly dragging their finances through the press.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/17/12 at 04:59 PM ET


I just hope they cinch up some of the loopholes in the CBA. Force teams like the Rangers to buyout their mistakes against the salary cap instead of bury them in the minors. I look at it that the Rangers shouldn’t be where they are right now if all was fair and equal. If they had to buyout Redden, Avery, Drury there is no way they would have 3 superstars on their team in Lundqvist, Gaborik and Richards. That or go the route of the NFL where the contracts aren’t guaranteed money.

Posted by jamEs from Cambridge, Ontario on 05/17/12 at 05:37 PM ET


One more thing. I assume the real rich teams (your Maple Leafs, your Canadiens, your Rangers) lose more money to revenue sharing and propping up the Coyotes than the $5 million or so they’d get from a 7% salary roll-back. That’s going to get them focused on interior issues, not the players’ salaries.

Posted by larry from pitt on 05/17/12 at 06:48 PM ET

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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