NHL Offers Players 50/50 Revenue Split

October 17, 2012

Features, Hockey

As Arkansas fans have been known to say during their tire fire of a season:

“False hope is worse than death.”

Those words have never rang so true.  The saga that is the NHL lockout has taken an interesting turn this evening as reports are indicating that the NHL is offering its players union a 50/50 revenue split. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well let’s pore over some of the reported details.

The 50/50 split of hockey related revenue sounds completely fair, doesn’t it? Well that depends on what the two sides believe “hockey related revenue” is.  Sure, it seems fair to offer the players half the pie but if the size of the pie is much smaller thanks to omissions of HRR, then what does it really matter? The owners would undoubtedly find loopholes to minimize the HRR and keep more money in their pockets. The important portion of this is that the league is not asking for any salary rollbacks, a sticking point of earlier negotiations.

Another likely sticking point for the Players’ Association could be the proposed five-year maximum contract length.

This, no doubt, has been brought on by teams offering contracts of ten years and up in recent years. The NBA, where commissioner Gary Bettman did his time before getting the reigns to the NHL, uses this model and it seems to work well for them but don’t expect this one to stick.

Also changing would be the time/age restrictions on unrestricted free agency.  Currently, a player must be either 27 years old or have been in the league for seven years before they can do so; the league has revised this in their offer to 8yrs/28yrs old.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the NHLPA fought this one a bit more than the max-length portion as that added year can be very important for players. Also, entry level contracts would increase in length from three years to four so it’s clear that the rookies are getting thrown under the train on this one.  Which is fine with me because that just means teams with a kick-ass young nucleus (Edmonton) can keep them together a little longer.

One of the last major points of this proposal is to increase revenue sharing from the $150M  of the last deal to $200M which should see the smaller market teams that are struggling (looking at you Florida, Phoenix, and Columbus) get a little bit of extra help.

All that being said, Bettman has stated that if the deal is accepted by the players (and they have nine days to do so), the league will start on November 2nd with the full 82-game slate to come.  Which would be AWESOME.

The proposal, on the whole, looks pretty fair.  But the players won’t accept it.  Hopefully (and that’s the operative word here), the players counter with something along the lines of a 52/48 split in year one, 51/49 split in year two, and 50/50 going forward.  They’ll also counter the contract-length to something a little higher, probably 6 or 7  years max.  I expect them to be fine with the revenue sharing but reject the added year-to-free agency.

I’m trying to be optimistic here because this is a good sign but if the players reject this deal, they risk a legitimate repeat of 2004/05 and will undoubtedly push away any sympathy anyone might have had for them.

Let’s hope this gets settled so I can get some hockey back in my life.

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