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Crosby: Why change contract rights of “the most competitive league in the world”?

Nov 12, 2012, 2:43 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby Getty Images

With the NHL and NHLPA at a stalemate on revamped contract rules for a new CBA, one of the league’s marquee players is wondering why owners want to change the system at all.

“They’re trying to take away all the contracting rights,” Sidney Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The question I’d ask is why would we change that? I think we all think it’s the most competitive league in the world so why would you go and change that — the way contracts go and the way teams can operate?”

The proposed contracting rights, as outlined in Donald Fehr’s memo to NHLPA members, are:

Losing a year of salary arbitration eligibility, allowing the team to file for salary arbitration in any year that the player can file, extending UFA eligibility to age 28 or 8 seasons, limiting contracts to 5 years, and permitting only 5% year to year variability in player contracts.

The contract length issue is similar to that of the NBA, which implemented a five-year maximum in its latest collective bargaining agreement.

Crosby’s issue with the revamped plan is that it takes the “skill” out of being a general manager.

“If you try to change all these things, Ray’s [Shero, the Penguins GM] hands are going to be tied,” he explained. “That takes his skill of being a GM or his strength of having to that decision away. So I don’t really see the point.”

Of note, Crosby signed a 12-year, $104.4 million extension with Pittsburgh in June. The deal begins in 2013-14.

  1. rabidbillsfan - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Don’t really understand that argument. Is all it does is close the gap between good GM’s and bad GM’s, it doesn’t eliminate it. It, in theroy, should result in alot more parity in the NHL. You limit the amount of mistakes a GM can make before you even start FA or negotiaiting new contracts. In the long run, it will help players at the level just below Crosby. Instead of throwing Boatloads of cash at a guy who may bust, you get an extra year to verify that he is “The One”. If, for whatever reason, he doesn’t pan out, you only are on the hook for 5 years and its a manigable cap hit. You also don’t have to worry about competeing with other GM’s who have owners with ‘Deeper”pockets as much, limiting the amount of money you hand out to a time-frame of 5 years makes the yearly cap hit a sticking point for every team, not just small-market teams. Arbitration is really the only thing I don’t like, and I don’t like it for either side, it elimantes bargaining in good faith between some players and the clubs.

    • jimw81 - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      no this is just punishment for deals that gm made under the ok of the owner. this is just small market teams crying foul.

  2. ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    I think cap circumventing deals widen the disparity between wealthy teams and poor teams. BUT, I have to give Crosby a lot of credit. He stuck around during negotiations and has been a vocal leader for the players as whole. I may not agree with Fehr’s view of revenue sharing and how to run a competitive league, but if and when this lockout ends, Sid hasn’t ducked out of the lime light when his fellow players needed him.

    Now, am I aware that player’s such as Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang who are two years away from UFA give Crosby a reason for taking the stance he has? Absolutely! But He hasn’t put his head in the sand and left it to others to deal with. That, in my opinion shows character.

  3. blomfeld - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Question: “The question I’d ask is why would we change that?”

    Answer: 12-years @ $104.4 million extension

    As an ardent and “values-driven” fan of the LA Kings for 39 years, I’m on record here for acknowledging Crosby’s decency and greatness. Nevertheless, the fact remains that he and all other players with contracts > 5 years are in the wrong and they know it. Signing on to these “ludicrous” deals was nothing but a show of “poor judgement” on their part and in some cases it was even bordering on “malice”. Just because you can get away with something doesn’t make it right. If you find a cash laden wallet on the street, you don’t go and keep it because you think no one will “find out” do you ? Of course not ! Instead you’ll make “every” effort to find the owner and then return it to him/her in “good order” post haste. And so should it be with these ridiculous “til death do us part” contracts. All of these people like Crosby, Luongo, Parise, Suter, Kovalchuk, Ovechkin and even Quick, should do the “right” thing now and agree to have their respective contracts immediately amended to a maximum length of 5 years and not a day more. Furthermore, they should issue a “collective” apology for their poor judgement and promise to “never” again embrace greed in such a shameless and unabashed way.

    • davebabychreturns - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      Crosby would get the $12m/year he is owed in the first three years of his new contract whether he’d signed after a massive change to allowable contract structure in the NHL or not.

      The fact is that maximum contract lengths and maximum salary fluctuations mean more players getting paid at or near the maximum salary which means more teams building towards greatness and then being forced to dismantle shortly afterwards.

      People can claim that parity makes the league more enjoyable but tell that to Blackhawks fans who had to watch one of the best teams of the post lockout era be stripped of its depth and turned into an also-ran due to cap restrictions (granted they exploited cap loopholes mercilessly during their ascent as a franchise).

      And as a Kings fan surely you can appreciate that it would be hard to keep a team like that together in an environment like this.. guys like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter will be paid upwards of $6.5m in cash per year over the next couple of years, players like Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick would have even higher cap hits, and when it comes time to re-sign Anze Kopitar he’d probably be into the $8m’s because there’d be no way to get him under contract for anything beyond (what should be) his absolute peak as a player.

      The league’s weak sisters are already rewarded by the salary cap, by the draft and so on.. putting an even heavier pressure against successful teams by implementing restrictions like these will continue to diminish fan loyalties by creating further player movement, and diminish popular rivalries as teams are forced to make hard choices to stay under a lower cap while somehow handing out higher cap hits.

      Obviously things should probably not go on like they are right now (where only the most blatant violations of the spirit of the CBA can be stopped) but all of these restrictions together would truly stifle any potential dynasty that might form over the next few seasons.

      Fortunately we are still in a negotiation process and many of these sticking points will look very different by the time it wraps up.

      • blomfeld - Nov 12, 2012 at 5:26 PM

        davebabychreturns – I hear what you’re saying friend, however I maintain that it’s best to keep it simple … nobody should get more than a 5 year contract, period. For example, assuming say there’s a 60 million team cap. Then if some team wants to go and spend 50 million “per year” on just one guy and only have 10 million left for the other 19 spots on the roster, then “go right on ahead” I say ! Look, one player does “not” guarantee you anything (ie: Wayne Gretzky) and neither does two or three for that matter. The problem with these uber-long contracts is that they’re based on “wishful thinking” which in turn leads to eventual trouble … or “short term” gain for “long term” pain, for lack of a better expression. Yeah, the Kings may look good today. But I can almost guarantee you that the Carter, Richards and Kopitar contracts will eventually lead to financial upset. Look at what happened with your own Canucks. Just two years after signing for 65 million, Luongo is now a AIG-sized financial “ball&chain” which the Canucks are trying desperately to rid themselves free of. The point is that “nobody” can know what will happen to a player over the course of “years” ? … especially in a fast-paced and violent game like hockey. And therefore this contract “insanity” should be limited to 5 years and not a day more, so as to safeguard teams and ultimately the league, from having to pay for the messes created by idiotic signings such as Dipietro and Yashin.

      • woodstakes - Nov 13, 2012 at 2:58 PM

        blomfeld, thank you for stepping off the soap box and showing that you clearly understand what is right here. I like your and davebaby ideas about the contracts and I agree with you guys wholeheartedly. The only thing I disliked is your (blomfeld) idea about how the PLAYERS did this out of possible “malice”. Look, although i’m sure the players are as much at fault here as the GM’s that signed these deals, BUT these players you are talking about are ‘Franchise’ players and are or will be the “Face” of said franchise.

        While I agree these are “ludicrous” contracts, however no where in your earlier statement did you place any blame on the owners/gm’s. Why is that?? Why is it all the players and agents fault and not the franchise’s faults when these things happen? Isn’t it in the best interest of the Pens to keep the face of their franchise for the lifetime of his career?? Were they not motivated into keeping him just as much as Crosby was in staying?? All i’m saying is don’t just blame the players for this.

        First of all this CBA was negotiated last time and the owner’s/gm’s have shown they need their hands held in order to protect themselves.Secondly, who knows what the ‘teams’ offered these guys right off the bat. I don’t remember seeing anywhere that stated “Crosby seeking.. Parise seeking… Suter seeking…” rhetoric that you see in other sports where FA’s come available and in Crosby’s case it was an extension. So people please stop blaming one side of these things when it clearly is as much the owners faults as it is the players.

        Also, I would argue that these players would likely make more money over the same amount of time if you divided their contracts into multiple contracts. Teams frontload these contracts while they are in their primes and lower its rate over the bottom half of their careers. I’m betting (using Parise as an example) that if Parise stays healthy and keeps getting better as he has, that a 33 yr old Parise would sign a contract in his 2nd contract that’s worth a lot more than the last 5 yrs of his current contract.

    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      I can’t disagree with your reasoning but we both know that isn’t going to happen. Both parties are on the hook for the ludicrous deals. The owner’s for offering them as well as the players and the NHLPA fo accepting and approving them.

      I don’t fault Crosby for igning that deal bak in June. You can add Zetterberg, Franzen, Hossa and Pronger to the lit you created. The penguins hadn’t engaged in these kind of deals until Crosby’s contract and considering it had become a trend that wa occuring in the league I don’t blame them for going down that path with him.

    • emperorzero - Nov 12, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      I would disagree with the players giving up contracts 5+. It’s a foregone conclusion they are going to have to take a cut in revenue, which I don’t have a problem with. But, two things players should strive to keep is the current free agency system and the length of contract. Hainv g the ability to pick where you are going to play – and how long you will be there – are two things the players shouldn’t have to give up. I can see why the league would want to “cripple” the ability for players to move (or stay), but that is something the players I really do think should fight to keep.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      HAHAHHAHAHA they’re wrong and they know it? The Pens ownership OFFERED those terms to Crosby! He didn’t make the deal himself.

  4. thedavesiknowiknow - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:33 PM

  5. jimw81 - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    league is going have to cave on this issue. teams are going to find ways to exploit new cba anyway.

    • imleftcoast - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Players are going to have to cave. Owners aren’t going to cave on closing a loophole that goes against the purpose of a cap.

  6. id4joey - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    I obviously don’t have a horse in this race, and I certainly would like to see NHL hockey asap. I can understand the players not wanting to give up what they have, and owners wanting to increase their bank accounts. The question is, who will stand up and be the Robert Kraft in this conflict? Who has the ability to bring both sides to give up a little, w/o having either side completely lose face?

    • therealjr - Nov 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM

      There is no Bob Kraft. See, that’s why the NFL missed no games and the NHL is where it is. NHL better hire that PR guru after this is over, they are going to have to figure out some way to spin their declining attendance, lower ratings and how that ‘pie’ they once were so excited about has significantly eroded. When the NHL comes back, it’s getting nothing from me but a big finger. If they started playing 12/1, maybe I would consider dropping it by the playoffs. If they try to jam another fraudulent 48 game season down our throats, no thanks.

  7. jernster21 - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    The players think these offers are trying to fleece them – the league is actually fleecing its own owners in attempt to prevent these problems from cropping up next time around and hopefully preventing another lockout come the expiration of the next CBA – in the end, isn’t that doing the players a favor too?

  8. steelturf76 - Nov 12, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    I’m not trying to stick up for either side, the NHL and the NHLPA, because I think that both sides are being asses, but I am under the impression that before any contract can be signed between a player and the team that the contract has to be approved by the league anyways, so that would mean, to me anyways, that it is the NHL’S fault in the first place for all of these long-term lucrative contracts. If the owners didn’t/don’t want these kind of contracts that lasts for so long of a time frame then why would they of agreed to the contracts that have already been signed? Kind of hypocritical to me to offer/sign players to these contracts and now all of a sudden want them abolished. I also feel that they need to get rid of guaranteed contracts, you either play good enough to earn what you are being paid or get fired/cut. If any regular employee for a regular employee don’t fulfill their job like their boss asks them to do that employee would be let go and the employer will find someone to replace them, what makes athletes any different?

    • jernster21 - Nov 12, 2012 at 5:31 PM

      They basically had to approve the contracts because they weren’t in violation of the CBA – the one contract they did disallow was Kovalchuk’s – it was then restructured and approved like many of the other long term contracts they previously signed off on.

      If the NHL asked for guaranteed contracts to go away then the PA would ask for the salary cap to go away….they can’t even agree on things that shouldn’t have even caused this lockout let alone issues that would trigger world war 3.

  9. thailer35 - Nov 12, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Most competitive league in the world? No. More so than the NBA or MLB? Plausible. But to say the NHL is MORE competitive than the NFL beyond a reasonable doubt? Ridiculousness.

    • somekat - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:28 PM

      The fact that as many teams have won the Cup since 1995 would beg to differ. The NFL may have parity as far as teams making the playoffs, but the Superbowl is still won by on of the “elite” teams most of teh time.

      That being said, when Crosby is willing to give up his salary, and trade it with the “income” from Columbus, or Pheonix, or any of the other bankrupt teams, then he can talk about it. Until then, you are an idiot, a talented idiot, but an idiot none the less. Shut up and play hockey, and stop acting like you have a clue what should be in the contract agreements of a “fair” league

  10. csilojohnson - Nov 13, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    blomfeld, someone had to offer that contract. To compare it to finding a wallet on the ground is just a bad analogy.

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