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Schneider thinks NHL will blink on contract rights

Nov 14, 2012, 2:48 PM EDT

Cory Schneider Getty Images

Canucks goalie Cory Schneider doesn’t believe the players have more to lose than the owners when it comes to the ongoing lockout.

“We don’t agree with that internally,” Schneider said, as per The Province. “It’s doing a lot of harm to them, too. It’s mutually assured destruction.”

It’s an interesting comment, since the consensus opinion among observers is that the owners will be hurt less by a lengthy lockout.

As we wrote a few weeks ago, an NHL franchise isn’t an NHL player. The first has an indefinite life span and a value that’s determined by the expectation of future revenues; the other has an average career length of four to five seasons and a value that falls to zero once that career is over.

There are also franchises that bled money under the last CBA, so whatever damage is done in the short term is less of a concern than getting the right deal for the future. In fact, for some of those teams, there may be less damage done during the lockout than would be done under terms of the old CBA.

As they say, no deal is better than a bad deal.

On the bright side, both sides have agreed to reach a 50-50 split in revenues eventually, so arguably the biggest “future” issue has been decided.

The remaining “future” issue is contract rights. The NHL wants to cap contract lengths at five years and bump the age of unrestricted free agency eligibility to 28 (or eight years of service), plus other changes.

But Schneider doesn’t believe the owners are willing to lose a season over those issues.

“The detriment it would cause the players on the contracting rights is far greater than the benefits the owners would gain,” he said.

“For them, to make (contract rights) their last stand, on all of them, doesn’t make sense to us.”

  1. DED - Nov 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    I can see the 5-year limit. It protects the owners from their own stupidity. Bumping up UFA to 28 (or 8yrs exp) is a bit steep though. Too much of a sacrifice on the part of the player.

  2. paledevil - Nov 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Something about the phrase “like i know your going to ” has FUELED this drama from the beginning.. If one reads/hears “your gonna crack” they aint gonna crack…So be it ..To the death…

  3. dprouse - Nov 14, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    If the NHL was ready to give on contracting issues, they would have done so last week. The fact that they didn’t, and in fact walked away from the table when the NHLPA wouldn’t budge, tells you that Schneider is wrong – the owners are, in fact, willing to go to the wall on this. In the meantime, the players are about to miss their third pay of the season tomorrow. You can argue as to whether you think the owners are right or wrong, but they clearly hold the hammer here, and are quite prepared to use it.

    I would turn Schneider’s question around – if you are a veteran player in the last year of your contract, watching your last chance to earn another contract slipping away, would you think that this was worth losing the season? Revenue splits have already been decided, and “make whole” is really only relevant for a few high end players. Now your union is asking you to throw away the season over the age of free agency and contract lengths? If that’s me, I might want to ask Donald Fehr what his Plan “B” is, because as we all know, Bob Goodenow didn’t have one.

    • elvispocomo - Nov 14, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      That’s the same process the NHL used for their mid-October offer (50/50, “make whole” provision, etc). They said that’s the best they could do and told the NHLPA they wouldn’t meet unless it was to talk about making tweaks to their offer, rather than discuss things in general.

      Well, the NHLPA didn’t budge on having to accept that as a last offer and the NHL came back to the table to talk in general about the CBA as well as made a significant change to the make whole provision. Why shouldn’t the players think this is all more bluff and bluster from the NHL rather than truly their last/best offer?

  4. billsin20xx - Nov 14, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    The ‘make whole’ provision is for everybody. To go to 50/50 they would have to have all the players take a pay cut AGAIN (24% last contract). Obviously it would hit the higher paid players more, but it would hit everybody.
    As a fan I like the long term contracts, it really depresses me when a player you think of as a life time player for your team bids himself out after 5 years.

  5. fortwaynekomets - Nov 14, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    I think the 5 year max signing is ludicrous!!!

    I was just thinking this.summer… damn will I even be a Bruins fan in 2014?? cause there losing all their young talent if they choose to not resign match new contracts!

    I like to see a good core group of players on a team for atleast 5 years. not maximum. teams need to realize they do.t always need to “shake things up” if they don’t win the cup, maybe if your a last place team, but just realize not every year can belong to everyone! which is what makes the cup so amazing!

  6. bigtganks - Nov 14, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    5 years from now these players will all say whether they’re in the league or not, “wow, that was stupid of us to not just get a deal done, we lost so much money that we’ll never get back” while the owners will say “see, it worked out well for both of us”.

    That’s what’s happened every other time previous to this…

  7. fortwaynekomets - Nov 14, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    7 letters my friends… ECHL & AHL.

  8. thomaspratt - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    The way this is playing out, the players would have to be foolish not to believe that the owners will be coming after guaranteed contracts the next time the CBA expires. In that context, taking a stand on contract rights makes perfect sense. Players can probably live with 7% less HRR, but restricting their freedom to move would cost them all more over the long term.

    I don’t think there is much need to restrict the long term, back diving contracts. They have been failures for most teams that have signed them — Luongo is a great example of a contract that has come back to haunt the Canucks. I think most teams will have learned not to sign them, and at the same time, they are a good tool for a team like Nashville to lock up a franchise cornerstone like Weber.

    The one legitimate contracting issue I see for the league is reestablishing the second contract, so players don’t go from their entry level deal right to a long term, high value deal.

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