The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/25/11 at 08:04 PM ET
As noted earlier, the Carolina Hurricanes, among other smaller and mid-market teams, find themselves a little financially squeezed by the fact that the league’s revenues have exceeded the $3 billion mark, thus yielding a salary cap “floor” of $48.3 million and a cap ceiling of $64.3 million, which are obviously much higher numbers than the league was working with coming out of the lockout, but as the smaller-market franchises begin to lament a CBA which they wholeheartedly supported, negotiated between Bill Daly and a sycophant in Ted Saskin, because a) the “payroll range” is determined by league-wide revenues instead of team-by-team revenues and b) because one Gary Bettman’s dream CBA involved parity, thus a $15 million gap between floor and ceiling instead of a more reasonable $20-25 million one…
The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell insists that, when the NHL and NHLPA engage in CBA negotiations after whatever happens happens in terms of the NFL and NBA’s lockouts, it’s the PA that should take another salary rollback because they’re earning too much of the pie, especially after applying their 5% inflator, thus making the PA the “bad guys,” if not the “fall guys,” upon which the smaller-market teams should foist blame:
And like the economy in the United States, that kind of spending hurts a lot of teams. And with a new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon after next summer, teams are going to be wedded to contracts that will take them up to the floor this season, then will have to deal with the repercussions that will come with a new agreement. That means the same NHL Players’ Association that has insisted on bumping up the salary cap every year with its inflator will almost certainly have to accept a league-wide rollback in salaries as part of the next negotiations.
“It’s an unusual landscape right now,” said Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney, “because I’m quite frankly not sure what’s going to happen, whether teams will just go berserk and the teams that have money blow their brains out…whether it’s guys who you think should be paid at $2 million are making $4 million or $5 million, time will tell.”
Well, isn’t that nice. A collective bargaining agreement that was supposed to solve so many problems doesn’t seem to have done a thing for anyone. The league was hoping to get away from crazy contracts, but now you have teams spending more money than they want just because they have to do so. You have players taking more every year, then complaining about paying escrow and you have as big, perhaps even bigger, chasm between the haves and have nots of the NHL.
It’s the NHL’s general managers and owners who sign checks, and they’re the ones who have jacked up the “marketplace” to silly levels by spending like there’s no tomorrow. That’s not the NHLPA’s fault—and the players understand that escrow is part of the deal because the league will always encourage its teams to spend more than what’s allotted to the PA if they can get a refund for any overages…
None of this will matter July 1 when teams trip over themselves to sign Brad Richards to an enormous long-term deal. We’re thinking eight years at about $50 million, heavily front-loaded with the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers beating each other’s brains out to get him.
Six years after all of this was supposed to be solved, the market again needs a correction. The NHL talks about tweaking the CBA, but it’s going to take a lot more than that for this league to get it right.
The clock is ticking. The league and its players’ association has one more year to make it work. From this vantage point, it sure looks as though they have an awful lot of work to do.
That’s very true, but to suggest that the NHLPA should pay for the “correction” when some of these smaller and mid-market owners might be asking whether that tight payroll range and a cap determined by league-wide revenues instead of perhaps an average or median number has come to bite them in the butt means that it’s worth locking out both players and fans all over again to bail themselves out and re-set the stupid mistake meter.
There is no CBA that’s going to “protect the owners and GM’s from themselves,” and there’s simply no purpose in following the NFL and NBA’s league in engaging in another lockout when the owners, the NHL and the NHLPA can sit down and work out amenable solutions to the issues they’re concerned about without playing the nuclear option that is a league-imposed “work stoppage.”
The village has been burned down in order to save it two times over the past fifteen years, and testing fans’ patience again, especially based on empty promises and out-and-out lies about “inflationary spirals” in ticket prices being reduced once again or “all franchises being stable in the markets they’re currently located in” simply won’t cut it.
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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.