Heading Off A Cliff

Gary Bettman announced today that the NHL will lock the players out if they do not reach an agreement by September 15th. While there is still plenty of time before that deadline, it’s getting hard to see how any deal is possible.

I don’t think Gary Bettman and the rest of the owners have thought this through.  The 2004-05 season was scrapped because the owners insisted on a salary cap to give them “cost certainty”.  They got that cap, but apparently that wasn’t good enough.  Now they want to cut the players’ share of league revenues from 57% to 43%. They also want to cap contract length, eliminate salary arbitration and not allow unrestricted free agency until ten years. It’s hard to see how the players would want to even meet halfway on any of these issues because they gave up so much when they agreed to a deal in 2005, including a salary rollback of 24%.

Meanwhile, we the fans are once again an afterthought. Nothing shocking about that, but the NHL is pressing its luck here. The league has mostly recovered from the disaster of 2004-05, but I doubt they could survive another long lockout. Perhaps cooler heads will prevail and we won’t have to found out, but I am not optimistic. 


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  • blmeanie  On August 10, 2012 at 6:23 am

    curse of the Thrash coming down on the NHL, see what you get for moving the Thrashers?

    • nysportsfanatic  On August 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

      So the 2004 strike was probably punishment for the Flames relocating to Calgary?

      I have a neighbor who is from Atlanta, huge fan of those teams and UGA. He really enjoyed this comment.

  • blmeanie  On August 10, 2012 at 9:48 am

    The flames were before my time here but yeah, you would see some Flames sweaters at games still after all those years. Bettman is a moron, but the owners are to blame if he gets their support. Suicidal if they lock out again.

    • nysportsfanatic  On August 10, 2012 at 11:27 am

      I remember reading a SI story when Bettman was made commissioner. The point of it was that he came from the NBA and nobody felt he knew anything about hockey. The money quote was some executive in the NHL who said, “I gave him a puck and he tried to open it.”

  • blmeanie  On August 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Bobby Orr has commented on it, while he is one of my most respected players EVER, his bias as a former player and current agent is clearly showing with his comments. I have a hard time with the players getting 57% of the cut when the cut is tiny due to no rich TV package like the NFL or MLB or even the NBA.

    How did everybody feel the players got screwed last go around when they ended with 57% of the pie? Not letting the owners off the hook because they are stupid to continue on with Bettman but something is wrong if you go through a painful lockout, lose a season and still have the players get that much.

    • nysportsfanatic  On August 12, 2012 at 11:11 pm


      The key things were that the players agreed in 2005 to a hard salary cap and they collectively cut their pay by a quarter. And the BS line we were fed at the time was that it was all to keep the cost for the fans reasonable.

      Bettman told us after the 2004-05 lockout that the NHL had achieved “cost certainty” because they claimed to be paying out 75% of league revenue to the players. Yet they are now going to lock the players out again. Why is that? Unlike baseball, you can’t have a team like the Yankees blow other teams away payroll-wise. In fact, the salary cap insures that teams can only spend up to 57% of the league revenue. So, their is a level playing field, the problem is the owners installed a minimum salary cap.

      The minimum cap is $16 million below the maximum and with league revenues exploding, that means the league minimum is now higher than the original salary cap decided after the 2004-05 season. No wonder the owners are upset….

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