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In 2006, Rick DiPietro was poised to become the next great American goaltender. Just six years (and countless injuries) later, his fifteen-year contract has become a sterling example of the type of contract the NHL now forbids. Aside from absurd duration, under the previous collective bargaining agreement (CBA), teams could also aggressively structure these multi-year deals to circumvent the salary cap.
A player’s cap hit is calculated by dividing the entire value of the contract by the number of years it covers, and soon after the cap was installed in 2005, crafty GMs quickly realized a loophole by front-loading these contracts. In 2009, Marian Hossa penned a twelve year deal that pays nearly eight million yearly for the first half of the deal, before precipitously dropping to just one million over the last four years. Hossa will be forty-two and likely retired when the contract ends. Yet despite receiving almost eight million dollars annually for most of the contract, the cap hit will be fixed at a modest 5.3million/year.
Under the new Memo of Understanding, however, teams can sign players to a maximum of seven years, and a player’s salary cannot fluctuate more than thirty-five percent from year to year. The closing of this loophole is a welcome provision of the recent agreement. Albatross contracts like those inked by DiPietro are now a ghost of the past; meanwhile the integrity of the salary cap is also restored. Instead of front-loaded contracts being instrumental in creating winning teams, rosters will more accurately represent present value, allowing for a greater balance of elite players across the league. With hockey still attempting to gain a foothold in the United States, more competitive teams can only serve to broaden the fan base and create fans in non-traditional hockey markets.
I'm a fairly new hockey fan. So as a fairly new fan, it was a surprise to me (and my husband!) how upset I've become about the current hockey lockout and the failure to negotiate a new contract. I didn't realize how much I look forward to hockey each year and how much I miss it and that's what's driving me to write this.
There have been many stories online about how divisive an issue this is. Some fans are only angry at the league, some fans are only angry at the players union and some fans are just angry period!
So what could hockey fans around the world do to motivate the NHL and the Player's Asso. to resolve their dispute? Why not ask hockey fans all over the world, regardless of their personal position on the issues, to write letters to the NHL or the Players' Association or both, to express their thoughts and frustration about the lockout and the failed contract negotiations?
If you like this idea, here are their addresses:
Episode 2 in the THREE FLAMES FANS web series.
For those foggy on the details of the lockout, we have two babes with accents walk you through it. And, of course, the Three Flames Fans share their thoughts on the aftermath.
Watch it below and hope you enjoy.
The NHL and NHLPA are not getting anywhere, so you both have to stop and read this. l will be a mediator for now or maybe the new Union replacement soon.
Who said the NHL can’t replace players' and still be successful. They did it after the 2004/2005 lockout when they replaced 241 players' that did not return. They either left through retirement or just stayed away after the last lockout. All I need is 51% of the players to join me, that is what is needed to be able to play this season. First we have to get some work done to show that we mean business. I know that there are players' that just want to play but don't want to be seen as a union buster because they would be looked down at. Well guys I am a union guy that see's the NHLPA not going anywhere and I'm here to help.
First I will start off by giving the NHLPA the truth that they don't want the players' to really know. Donald is still talking about the 24% the players' lost in the 2004/2005 lockout and the truth is he does not mention what they have gained since the lockout. I was reading the paper the other day and it is talking about how Joffrey Lupul has seen his salary rise 373% that is an average of 53% a season since the 2006 season. Donald does sell himself to the players' on what he has done for baseball and yes that is the number one or two sport in the United States. In some states hockey falls to maybe 7th or 8th behind Football, Baseball, Basketball, Golf, NASCAR, Soccer, Bowling and even Darts. I have got to hand it to you Mr. Fehr, I don't know how you have the players' convinced in believing in you at the expense of the season being lost and the 241 players that may not be playing next season. My message is to all players'. My union does care about every player on every team and we will get a contract done together as one.
To The NHL:
Where do I begin? During the course of the last seven years since the last lockout, you have seen record growth; growth that many American businesses would kill to have. You have watched your sport increase its fan base year in and year out, even in markets where it usually would not make sense (Phoenix, Carolina, etc.). Now here we are: a month into another lockout, with no end in sight. You guys have had seven years to figure this issue out. You wait until a month before the season starts to even begin negotiating. And furthermore, you have done so, all the while pointing fingers at the NHLPA. You expect most fans to be ignorant to the nature of the business, and while some are, that does not make all of us. Why is it, that in every one of the CBA’s under Gary Bettman’s watch, has there not been one to be solved without a work stoppage? During his tenure as your head in command, he has caused twice as many missed games as any other commissioner in sports. Now when you translate this to any other business in history, you will not find one CEO of any business who is responsible for as much loss in production that is still gainfully employed by said business. It astounds me that you guys not only continue to employ this man, but you do it while encouraging his behavior of “well we will not meet without preconditions; we will not meet unless you are willing to operate under our framework,” mentality. You are a group of multi billionaires, yet you squabble over making even more. Meanwhile, you do not think about nor care about the person making burgers in your arena; or the person tearing tickets and directing traffic for your arena. You have not only harmed the well being of the sport, you have also damaged many people’s financial wellbeing who need that extra $8.50 an hour job. You make more while ordering your latte than they make in a month, yet you continue to demand more.
If the CBA is a working attempt to fix all the current problems in the NHL, can we also mention the Magic Point that appears in overtime games and is invisible in games that are decided in regulation? That is one of the most nonsensical rules ever devised.
The fix is quite simple (for those who payed attention in junior-high math): One game, one point. Period.
If Team A wins a regular-season hockey game in regulation, they are awarded one point. If the two teams are tied after regulation, the eventual winning team (via overtime play or the shootout) will be awarded 0.75 points, and Team B that lost in overtime will receive 0.25 points, still equaling the single point awarded for a single game. There's no reason for an extra point to *poof* into existence just because two teams cannot win in regulation. The winning team should not get the full value of the win because they could not triumph in 60 minutes, and the eventual losing team should get a twenty-five percent piece of the single-point pie for not losing in regulation. (Plus, the scaling is better: three overtime losses have equal weight to one overtime win and four OT losses equal a regulation win, rather than the current two OT losses equaling the points of a single regulation win.)
This way, we might see teams actually play late into the third period as if they wanted to win the game, and not just skate around like they're auditioning for Battle of the Blades. All due respect.
I think this would put a little more game in the product, and take out gaming the rules for the magic point.
Remember back in the late 80s when players like Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Hull, and Yzerman were racking up points; and Brendan Shanahan was racking up fights and PIMs? My how things have changed. Lemieux, having made his millions after freely roaming the ice for years protected by the likes of Troy Loney, Grant Jennings and Jay Caufield is now an owner. One that is more content bashing tough guys instead of respecting them. Shanahan, who first made his mark in the league because of his fists, is now dishing out suspensions at a torrid pace, as the league’s head disciplinarian.
The late 80s gave us a multidimensional game, full of both individual displays of scoring feats and enforcers who were actually allowed to enforce the game in the moment. Was the correlation a simple coincidence? Or did opposing players know that if they touched Wayne, Marty was coming for them? Or if Steve was touched, Bob wasn’t going to be far behind? Don’t even look at Brett cross-eyed… the Twister was watching your every move.
I have seen several games this that Stephen Walkom has refereed. I have been less than impressed with the on ice calls of the former Director of Officials..
First, I’ll admit that I believe being an NHL referee is the most difficult refereeing/umpiring job in sports.
Second, I proudly admit that I am a biased Red Wings fan.
While I am not wining about the Red Wings loss to the Preds on Saturday night 3-1. However, the standard of officiating in that game was amongst the worst I’ve seen. I am not only complaining about the wrong call taking away a Wings goal because the goaltender interference. However, ironically just after the GM meetings about player safety and addressing concussions, the pair refereeing the game obviously did not get the memo. Elbows directly targeting the head were ignored, , repeated punches to the head from behind allowed and charging/ boarding were let go.
I’m not sure every game is reviewed for the quality of officiating, but Terry Gregson, you need to ok at this one. Maybe Walkom is better suited to reviewing calls from the press box.
In honor of Black History Month, and in support of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone initiative, we present the All-Black Hockey Team over at Gunaxin Sports. The full roster is constructed entirely of active players, and is more balanced and talented then you might expect.
I think everyone would agree on eliminating head shots from the game is a good idea. We need to protect our players from hits to the head that can result in concussions or even more serious injury that can affect player’s careers or even the ability to lead a normal life. These headshots are now in the process of being eliminated at all levels of our game.
While this is good news, I watch the game and still worry that we are not doing enough to protect defensemen.
Two areas are concerning: touch icing and goalies being unable to play the puck outside of the trapezoid that put defensemen at risk.
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