Friday, September 7, 2012

Where Are We On NHL CBA Talks?

The NHL last proposed giving the players a 51.6% share of revenue in the first year of a new deal. The NHLPA said hang on a minute - that 51.6% figure is really a 46% share of revenue since the NHL defines revenue in a narrow way.

That takes us back to when the NHL initially proposed a 46% share for the players, to which Fehr said that's really 43%. 

So at this point what is more important than what percentage the players get and is how they define revenue begin with. Right now, the sides are looking at this from different angles. That's never good. The NHLPA wants a more expansive definition of hockey revenue.

We know that last night, special counsel to the NHLPA Stephen Fehr and Deputy Commissioner Bill "Tomato Juice" Daly (yes that's his nickname from his college football playing days) had dinner. No word on how that went, but I can report that Daly had the fish and Fehr the mutton.

So are we headed for a lockout? 

Things certainly don't look great. Daly (an antitrust lawyer by trade) said while he remains “hopeful”, it is “increasingly unlikely” that training camps will open on time. 

“It appears that based on the response we got from the Union last Friday, our talks have stalled, at least temporarily. While we certainly remain hopeful they will resume shortly, it is obviously becoming increasingly unlikely that NHL Training Camps will start on time" Daly declared.

Contract/settlement negotiations are filled with ebbs and flows, and they can be a funny beast. When all hope seems gone, things can turn quickly and things can get moving.

In this case, though, the concern is that there are fairly obvious areas of compromise. When I get a new case, I look to figure out the likely terms of settlement. At times, it can take longer to get there but the finalized terms of settlement are generally not too surprising.

The cap next years was supposed to be at $70.2 million and the NHL is proposing a new cap of $58 million. So a cap at around $64 million would likely do it. 

As well, the NHL wants to give the players a 46% share of revenue and the PA has proposed 54% share. So start it close to 54% and gradually drop it closer to 50% over the life of the CBA.

This bring me to another point - the length of the CBA. The NHLPA is proposing a 3 year CBA with a player option to renew for 1 year. That won't cut it - not even close. It needs to be 6 years or more since long term CBAs help promote stability and grow a league. So the NHLPA needs to move closer to 7 years.

Entry level contracts are 3 years and the NHL is proposing 5 years. So meet at 4 years.

So back to the concern - no settlement to date despite obvious areas of compromise. If there remains a meaningful divide between the sides a week away from the CBA expiring, a lockout remains possible. However, given the nature of negotiations, a lockout is not a certainty. For me, it remains too early to make that call.

The NFL also tried to claw back player revenue in 2011. The sides in that case also had obvious areas of compromise. There was a lockout but no games were lost. 

So perhaps those looking to recalibrate should stop asking whether there will be a lockout, and start asking whether the NHL will miss any regular season games.

1 comment:


1) the problem with all the folks who want both sides to "meet in the middle" is that it fails to account for the fact that:
a) The players gave up 24% last time and now are being asked to give up more
b) Whats to stop the owners from asking for another 10+% in 6 years?
2) The players are correctly seeing the writing on the wall and should stop the bleeding now before it gets even worse