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Might the players’ proposal pit the owners against each other?

Jul 22, 2012, 2:29 PM EDT

Donald Fehr AP

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has yet to see what the NHLPA will counter their proposal with, but it’s possible the players’ union will come back with something a bit different. Rather than looking to cash in big for themselves, they may seek to pit the owners against each other.

Aaron Portzline from The Columbus Dispatch hears from the dean of Indiana University School of Law Gary Roberts (no, not the former Flames and Maple Leafs forward) who says a plan like that might just work.

“Knowing Donald Fehr, I will be shocked if that’s not part of his proposal, and a big part of it,” said Gary Roberts, dean of the Indiana University School of Law. “Salary caps do not work very well — or for very long — if you have a great disparity of revenue between clubs.

“You either set the cap so low that some teams make enormous profits — that doesn’t sit well with the players — or you set it so high that the clubs in smaller markets just can’t keep up.”

That sort of thing is precisely what’s going on now as many teams spend to the floor to maximize what they make while others spend to the cap (and then some) because they’re awash in profits. Meanwhile, they’ve all got to spend the same kind of money regardless of how much they take in. That kind of disparity doesn’t sit well with the teams fighting to turn a profit.

One solution Portzline shares from sources is letting teams trade their salary cap space to teams in need of more for picks or cash. Hey, it’s a creative solution albeit one that doesn’t sound likely to happen.

  1. mclovinhockey - Jul 22, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Leave the cap at 70…. Lower the floor for other teams… Its a business you have to spend money to make money and with that it’s also a sport so if you don’t spend what you can to maximize your team then your team will suck and your fans will be pissed.

    If the owner does not want to spend money why the hell should he make money.

  2. greatminnesotasportsmind - Jul 22, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Salary caps don’t work? Go ask the NFL if their salary cap doesn’t work. You know, the same NFL that is the high generating revenue sport. Baseball doesn’t have one which why New York and Boston always (almost) wins the East and wild card.

    Salary cap with a luxury tax doesn’t work. That is why it’s always San Antonio, Miami, LA, or Boston who wins the Finals.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

      The NFL is a poor comparison because they have such a short season. The cap has worked out pretty well so far

    • somekat - Jul 22, 2012 at 3:26 PM

      nfl also has the ability to release a player at any time, therby undoing mistakes. Not other professional union is going to agree to that, because if they do, it will never go away. The NBA has numerous ways to get around their “soft” cap, and I would call the dynamics of the NBA anything but as “parity”. I’m not saying that is the answer, or isn’t, but to just say that the NFL has a cap that works so it will work everywhere is overly simplistic.

      There should be a cap at some point, so that teams like the Rangers/Flyers/Red Wings don’t just spend everyone to death (this from a flyers fan), and there has to be a floor because a few teams will pull a KC Royals\Pitt Pirates and spend as little as possible.

      Without going into too much details, I’d think the best way would be some form of limited revenue sharing. Let teams run and profit off their own tv/radio deals, and make them go into a pool with ticket sales/merchandise. Obviously taht wouldn’t work exactly, because a ticket for some of the teams I mentioned costs more than some of the bad teams, but something along those lines

      • emperorzero - Jul 22, 2012 at 3:34 PM

        I agree you have to have some sort of revenue sharing and then there also has to be a guarantee that the money goes to player salaries/expenses and the owners just don’t pocket it. Steinbrenner was angry for years that teams like the Brewers, Twins, and Pirate were just pocketing the revenue shared.

      • DED - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Except that all that spending the Rangers did had diminishing returns in the years after they won the Cup. I don’t know if their philosophy to develop young talent vs. just buying free agents would’ve come about if the lockout and the impending salary cap that was heralded would’ve ever happened.

        At least Detroit made some effort to develop young talent and scout out promising young talent around the league.

    • adlent - Jul 22, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      What he said was:

      ““Salary caps do not work very well — or for very long — if you have a great disparity of revenue between clubs.”

      The NFL has probably the best revenue sharing model in all of sports which helps subsidize the smaller market teams. The NHL does not have a great revenue sharing model which means the clubs struggling to turn profits are penalized with the higher caps and inability to spend to be competitive.

      • somekat - Jul 22, 2012 at 4:03 PM

        But the NFL can only sustain it’s sharing model because it’s national TV contract is ridiculous, just with the money from that contract, every team is profitable. The NFL model is unique, and honestly, any union that didn’t already have it, would fight tooth and nail to stop it from being implemented.

        I gurantee the owners would agree to a bunch of other concessions is the union was willing to give up guranteed contracts. The fact that they are in place, and aren’t in the NFL, makes any comparison of their pay systems apples and oranges.

  3. firemarshal1 - Jul 22, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    NHL players need to realize they play for the fans, who pay for their outrageous salaries. I’m for ANY proposal (labor deal) that lowers ticket prices for the FANS. Sorry, but you guys have priced yourselves out from the common fan base. To the Owners (Mr. Synder-Flyers owner), stop giving out ridiculous contracts, like the Shea Weber deal.

    • paperlions - Jul 22, 2012 at 8:39 PM

      You realize, don’t you…that if player salaries were cut in 1/2, ticket prices would remain unchanged or go up? Ticket prices are NOT determined by player salaries, they are determined by the market…and fans will pay those crazy prices. Prices determine salaries….not the other way around…if you cut salaries, all you do is give the no-talent fungible owners much larger profits.

      • DED - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        To support paperlions’ point, I can afford one Ranger game/year, but there are plenty of fans in NYC to buy those seats and sell out every night (Glad I’ve got MSG network). Meanwhile playoff tickets in Phoenix were going for about half of what Ranger fans for regular season tickets.

  4. jmbates10 - Jul 22, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    TOUCHE ……firemarshall1…

  5. rainyday56 - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Yeah NHLPA, go ahead, divide the ownership. You’ll probably push the owners of the original six plus Philadelphia to bolt the league and set up a super league where only they can compete. (Vancouver could join but won’t be invited ’cause the big boys of the NHL hate those guys) It will be happening in Euro soccer in a few years with Man U, the two Spanish teams and the other couple multi billion dollar teams forming their own league. Why not push the inevitable and make it possible for 75% of your membership to make U.S.Major League Soccer money down the road?

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