First CBA Shots Fired

Let the real negotiation begin.  The NHL owners threw out the first real proposal to stop any labor unrest in the hockey world, but it may have simply made that inevitable.  It is a proposal that seeks to lower the player share of revenue and basically asks for a new definition or overall profit.  The proposal also asks to rewrite the way young star contracts are formatted.  Perhaps it is simply an offer to get the ball rolling that owners know is ridiculous or they are trying to show Donald Fehr that they mean business.  Regardless, it is time to talk.
The initial offer put forth by the owners last night asked for an 11% reduction in share for annual revenue taking the players piece of the pie from 57% to 46%.  The latest negotiations in other major American sports did see the players share fall as well.  However, in 2005 the players got a 24% cut and a hard salary cap that was only 39 million at the time.

The players were desperate then, but that is not the case now.  The sport has been growing and television contracts are settled.  Fehr does not believe they will be talking about salary cuts again, but the revenue pie will surely be a topic of discussion.

What do I think about salary rollbacks?” Fehr said. “I think basically what most people representing employees would think about salary rollbacks. What I’m sure you would think about salary rollbacks if they came to you. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what that is.”
“I certainly assume that the owners would intend to comply with all of the contracts they have signed, and nobody has suggested (anything) to the contrary

Wild owner Craig Leipold smiles with his newest talent, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The original negotiation also asks to extend the period of control for new players from three years to five.  This would mean an 18 year old draftee would be 28 by the time he is unrestricted and thus lose out on more lucrative contracts.  Second contracts have been a big topic as owners worry about the jump in contracts in order to take control of players unrestricted free agency years.  There may not be much sympathy for players as owners look to control contracts and provide more flexibility to their team thus creating more contenders and cap space.  Controlling the second contract also removes the possibility of long term contracts for young stars that teams would like to keep on their roster.

If the owners continue on this hard stance, the players will ask to see the books.  This is not something that has happened in the past, but the NFL players recently set a precedent by asking for the accounting of its owners.  One would question whether 46% of a share would do anything for struggling teams.

Do you find the irony in sending a message that salaries are too high yet offering up contracts like 13 years and 98 million dollars?  Remember the Minneapolis Star-Tribune stated in April  that Wild owner Craig Leipold thought the biggest problem in the system was player salaries.  Obviously his recent actions do not back up this claim, but players like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were able to hold the NHL owners at bay making their decisions.

Please remember that this is most likely just a way to start the real negotiations.  Someone has to get the ball rolling.  The claims on both sides will make you pick a side and even flip flop, but in the end all we really want is a full season.  If there isn't some compromise from this proposal maybe the Winter Classic will be held in March.


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