NHL Lockout Looms in the Future

Latest News

September 12th – The NHL and NHLPA met in New York to try to agree on a fair CBA as both sides know they will have to make compromises in order to save the season. In total, over 275 players made their way to New York to make their voices be heard. At the end of the day, NHLPA head executive, Donald Fehr, proposed a new proposal to the NHL. It was consistent with the union’s last offer. The league offered a counter proposal but it has neither been accepted or declined as of yet. The sides will meet yet again Thursday September 14, to work towards a solution.

Background

As the prior Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expired, and no new one in its place, the NHL may very well be facing a lockout in the coming days.  NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, said if there is no CBA agreed on by both the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) by 12:00am Sunday, he will lockout the players.

2004 seems so far back, yet so similar to today.  A similar CBA dispute led to a lockout that cancelled the entire 2004-2005 NHL season.  In fact, this is potentially the league’s third lockout since 1994.  Owners, players, and fans all mourned the loss of the season.  This hurt NHL revenue, attendance, and popularity dropped the following season.  But over time, both have risen back up and now hockey is at an all-time high in all three categories.

The entire revenue for the NHL in 2005 was $2.1B.  Over the past seven years, that number has exponentially grown to over $3.1B and is expected to only grow even more.  Under the former CBA, the players get 57% of the league’s revenue to be divided equally between all teams.  This number is known better as the team’s salary cap.  Last year’s salary cap was $64.3M while this year’s salary cap would grow to $70.2M.  This is a lot more than the first salary cap established in the 2005-2006 season, which was $39M.

The league wants to cut the player’s current share of 57% of the money down to below 50%.  The league has backed off of asking the players to take a 24% pay cut and take one that is closer to 7%.  The owners also want to limit contracts and make higher requirements for players to become unrestricted free agents (UFAs).  For example, Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17 year contract with New Jersey would be against the CBA.

Both sides have been gearing up for a lockout all season.  Most free agents this past season wanted signing bonuses which are guaranteed whether there is or isn’t a season.  Most notably this included Zach Parise and Ryan Suter who signed identical contracts with a $25M signing bonuses over the next three years.  The league protected itself by allowing the annual Winter Classic to be cancelled up to a single day prior to January 1st.

What a NHL Lockout Would Mean

There is no benefit for anyone in the case of a lockout. 

  • The owners can’t make money if the players aren’t playing. 
  • The players don’t get paid unless a CBA is agreed on.  Paul Bissonnette is currently taking applications to play for a beer league team on Twitter.  Many older players including Martin Brodeur, Teemu Selanne, Daniel Alfredsson, and Jaromir Jagr, may never have a chance to play in the league again if a lockout occurs.
  • Maybe most importantly, the fans have no hockey to watch or spend money on.  It may take the league a while to get all these new fans back, if they do decide to come back after a lockout is over.
  • Even more, arena workers will be out of work and local businesses will be hurt financially.  It is estimated that the city of Boston will lose over $1M of local business and revenue for every game that is missed.
  • The league may lose sponsorships that would cost them millions or more.

What You Can Do

What does hockey mean to you?  Can you watch this and not get emotional or get goose bumps?

As a fan, you can watch the video, spread knowledge, and sign the official petition of the lockout.  Almost 25,000 fans have already signed it.  Help get #NoLockout and #TogetherWeCan trending on Twitter.

Will the NHL be locked out Sunday morning or will the NHL and NHLPA agree on a new CBA?

More to Come..

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