Sep 4, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT
This has not been an easy summer for the NHL by any means. Perhaps the post-Game 7 Vancouver riots acted as an ominous introduction for months in which most of the biggest stories were negative. From more manageable headaches like Drew Doughty‘s contract holdout situation to stomach-churning issues such as Sidney Crosby‘s battle with post-concussion syndrome and the troubling series of enforcer deaths, the notion that next season cannot come soon enough takes on added meaning in 2011.
Yet as bad as things have been lately, next summer could be foreboding in its own right for a reason few of us even want to consider: the possibility of another lockout. The league seems like it’s in much, much better shape heading into the summer of 2012 than it did going into the summer of 2004, but the fear is there since the Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire.
The good news is that the NHL isn’t likely to shoot for enormous changes like instituting a salary cap or attempting to radically improve the style of play (among other alterations that the damaging 2004-05 lockout gave way to). That doesn’t mean that the league and its players association won’t be locked in some tough battles, though.
Tony Gallagher took a look at some of the hot button issues that will likely be discussed next summer as the parties try to hash out another CBA. It’s a piece worth reading from top to bottom, but PHT will take a look at some of the most interesting bits.
Let’s start things off on two issues that might have an impact on the league’s poorest teams.
In speaking to a number of informed people around the league on both sides of the fence, it’s clear that one of the league’s biggest problems within the present agreement is the obligation to enforce a floor on the genuinely pathetic franchises around the league.
The teams that have been losing money and crying wolf for the past 10 years are now being forced to pay out in the neighbourhood of US$45 million, which is forcing them into a position of losing money in some cases, and the league will be looking toward either lowering the floor or eliminating it altogether. That is something the players will likely vigorously defend.
The Torontos, Montreals and Vancouvers keep handing over money to the same dud franchises year after year with the question being whether that will continue to be the case, and if so, will that pool of money increase or decrease? And how will it be comprised going forward.
A particularly wrangling issue is all playoff teams having to contribute one-third of all revenue sharing from their first-round take, a system that actually rewards franchises (most notably Toronto) for missing the playoffs.
That’s the interesting thing about the current CBA; there are provisions that both hurt and help the league’s less successful teams. (Then again, the high cap floor/playoff revenue sharing combo might have the worst impact on not-so-deep-pocketed clubs like the Nashville Predators, who use their guile more often than big pay checks to make the playoffs.) To make things fair, the league probably wouldn’t want to eliminate the salary cap floor without keeping a minimum payroll for teams who want to benefit from shared revenue.
Naturally, the big money questions will be the biggest sticking points. The other major money matter is guaranteed contracts (and owners’ urges to do away with them). Considering the dangers involved in the sport, it would be a hard sell to roll back guarantees. After all, who’s going to want to risk breaking a bone by blocking a shot if they could lose their job shortly afterward?
Gallagher’s most interesting point comes late in the article, where he claims that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr have already won some big labor battles in their day, so they might be more willing to avoid a big standoff. It would be great if that ends up being true, but we’ll need to wait and see if that bit of sunshine turns out to be the light at the end of a (hopefully short) negotiating tunnel or just an example of an incorrect but educated guess.
Oct 24, 2014, 2:04 AM EDT
Scott Hartnell’s four assists included a wondrous “kick-pass.”
Oct 24, 2014, 1:35 AM EDT
His 33rd goose egg breaks a brief tie with Rogie Vachon.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:14 AM EDT
This one didn’t come against Colorado, either.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:50 AM EDT
They’ll also have a tribute to Nathan Cirillo.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:49 AM EDT
Chris Kelly calls him “irreplaceable.”
Oct 24, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT
Grim times for Carolina.
Oct 23, 2014, 11:33 PM EDT
The Bruins haven’t confirmed or denied the dire update.
Oct 23, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT
Is “revenge” too strong of a word for it?
Oct 23, 2014, 10:44 PM EDT
Pekka Rinne wasn’t too shabby, either.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT
Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall made it happen.
Oct 23, 2014, 9:33 PM EDT
Bad update for the Islanders.
Oct 23, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT
Was it the big hit he landed on John Tavares?
Oct 23, 2014, 7:43 PM EDT
Might be for the best.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT
He’s hoping no one drops the gloves with Jordan tonight.
Oct 23, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT
Winnipeg’s offense could use the power forward.
Oct 23, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Colorado could really use a win.
Oct 23, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
“Mirco’s not going anywhere.”
Oct 23, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT
And it’s a pretty impressive projected top six.
Oct 23, 2014, 3:23 PM EDT
Washington’s looked pretty darn good under Barry Trotz.
Oct 23, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT
“I thought our team was really resilient,” said Dan Hamhuis.
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