Breaking the Link

19 Oct

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Yesterday the NHL took 10 minutes to flatly refuse the NHLPA’s offer. If it were me I wouldnt have wasted 9 minutes like the NHL did.

Last night the players cried foul against the owners flat dismissal of their 3 (3!!!!) proposals. They took to Twitter and cried to the cameras that the owners didnt even consider the offers. How could they have given it serious thought? It only took them 10 minutes to say NO to all 3.

If the NHL was prepared to bargain in good faith then surely they would have needed at least a night to go over the thing carefully, right?

Wrong.

Each of the 3 proposals that the Players (incorrectly) categorized as 50/50 do one thing that undermines the work done in the LAST lockout. Each proposal, and especially the 3rd that the players think was given to Don Fehr by a burning bush on Mount Sinai, would sever the most important aspect of the previous CBA. Each one would unlink player salaries from HRR (Hockey Related Revenue).

The crux of the player proposal is that the league “Honour” all contracts that were signed in the last CBA and pay them out at 100%. They demand guarantees on their paycheques. The players are Happy to go down to 50% of revenues, just as long as their 50% is equal to or greater than the 57% they had last year.

Confusing? Only to the sane.

Seems like a reasonable request, doesnt it? Pay me what you told me you’d pay me. Here’s the problem. The NHL isnt proposing they do anything BUT pay them what they promised to pay them. NHL contracts have NEVER been guaranteed at 100% of their face value. They represent a number that reflects the Players’ share of HRR. Naturally, if ticket sales drop and HRR goes down then the player is given less than the face value of his contract. That’s why the players salaries are partially put into Escrow and either given back to them or kept by the owners. That was part of the partnership between the players and the league. Sometimes the players lose that escrow, sometimes they get it back AND then some.

Right now, the players have demanded that they forego Escrow all together and be paid at face value. That brings us to the 50/50 discussion. If the players get paid the same, with no Escrow, then they are not getting to 50/50. That number would be 57% like in the last CBA, and only 57% if HRR stays the same. If the League rakes in less money this season but the players are paid at face value then their slice of the Pie could exceed 57% by a mile.

It doesnt take a Rocket Surgeon or a Brain Scientist to realize that the players didnt just propose a deal nowhere near 50/50, but that they proposed a deal that would see them unlinked from HRR. The owners Locked their players out for a Calendar year last round of negotiations just to get that link. I dont think they needed more than 10 minutes of thought to turn down a deal that would break the link.

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