The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/03/11 at 06:34 PM ET
The Hockey News’s John Grigg reports that neither the NHL nor the NHLPA are necessarily happy with the fact that the league’s CBA currently allows players with one-way contracts to be “banished” to the AHL, with the NHL disliking the fact that the salaries of “banished” players don’t count against the players’ share of revenues, and the PA obviously disliking the fact that the hard cap’s yielding players who find themselves stuck in the NHL until their contracts expire. Grigg says that both sides hope to rectify the issue in the next CBA, but the concept of allowing players to “opt out” of their contracts and leave money on the table isn’t exactly a “slam dunk”:
[A] source told me the NHLPA would, obviously, argue the problem is ultimately created by the cap itself. If there wasn’t a cap, teams wouldn’t send players down, rather they would keep them, buy them out or search the trade market for a suitor. The union fears the existance of an opt-out clause would lead to pressure from teams, and the media, to have a player void his contract or else be sent down. Although the agent I spoke with didn’t believe pressure from anyone would be much of an issue. You can be sure the PA wants to see its guys in the NHL if they’re good enough, but it would push for a new buyout system, not a system in which players have to leave their money on the table.
According to the agent, the NHL terms the burying of one-way contracts in the AHL as “leakage,” as in cap money leaking out of the league. Last year there was about $30 million that wasn’t counted towards NHL teams’ total cap hit. While that helps some individual clubs operate, it affects the owners’ cumulative bottom line because that’s $30 million that wasn’t counted against the league’s hockey-related revenues. It’s those revenues that dictate how much money the players, as a group, take home each year and how much money the owners don’t.
“The league doesn’t want any leakage at all,” the agent said.
So a compromise is needed and will be addressed during the next round of collective bargaining negotiations. But that’s a season away and you’ve got to feel for the guys stuck in the minors right now and wonder if they’d take advantage of opting out. Such a clause wouldn’t be difficult to write, about 15 minutes worth of work according to the agent. The only thing that would hold up the process is acrimony between the league and the NHLPA.
If it got done, an opt-out clause would be a stop gap for both sides. The NHL wouldn’t have to deal with as much leakage and players would have options if priced out of the best league in the world. Seems like a win-win. And only fair.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.