NHL CBA: Who Is At Fault Here?


Now, everyone knows of the current talks about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Player’s Association representative Donald Fehr.As of right now, there is a “huge gap” between the two sides and as of today, there are two offers on the table. The NHL proposed the initial offer several weeks ago. This offer included:
1. Reduce players’ hockey-related revenues to 46% from 57 %.
2. 10 seasons in the NHL before being eligible for unrestricted free agency.
3. Contracts limited to 5 years.
4. No more salary arbitration.
5. Entry-level contract are 5 years long instead of 3.

This seems rather steep of demands. The contracts, arbitration and the like are rather minor talking points compared to the big elephant in the room. They are all points that probably be resolved rather quickly. The big issue is in the revenue sharing. and dropping the percentage over 10% is a huge blow to the players, especially after all the bragging the NHL did about their record high revenues. It’s natural to offer the moon in the opening proposal because that is what negotiating is all about, but it seems like Bettman and the Owners want to rule the world. At this rate, expect another year off from hockey.
Tuesday, the NHLPA issued their counter-proposal. Fehr said that up to $250 million could be entered into revenue sharing under the PA’s proposal. The league’s current system is quite benign, with various limits on which teams are eligible for revenue sharing. Only 10 teams were eligible a year ago while 18, according to Forbes, operated at a loss. Full details of the NHLPA’s revenue sharing ideas were not initially available.

While a hard salary cap would remain, the Canadian Press reports that the PA’s proposal calls for a luxury tax that would allow big-spending teams to exceed the cap by a certain number. If the luxury tax were to work like in other leagues, the money spent over the set limit would be distributed amongst teams that do not spend over the limit.

Player contracts would stay largely the same under the proposal. The NHL had proposed changes to free agency, contract term, entry-level deal structure and salary arbitration. The NHLPA’s proposal would leave those virtually untouched, according to Fehr.

This seems to be a much more manageable offer for the Owner’s to get behind. It allows teams like New York and Boston and the like to spend over the cap, if they so desire, and seems like it will assist teams like Buffalo, Columbus and Nashville to receive revenue sharing.

Despite this seemingly workable offer, the Comish has shot it down in the media, declaring it an “incomplete” proposal and stated that he is upset with the PA for submitting an incomplete offer.

But the question for the fans, who just want a season, is “who is at fault for not getting anything done?”
I believe it is Gary Bettman, and I will tell you why. Under Bettman’s tenure as Commissioner of the league, we have seen two major lockouts in 1994-1995 and 2004-2005 as well as another labor dispute in the 90’s. Based on the offer Bettman gave Fehr, and his reaction to the counter, I blame him for the “wide gap.” It appears to me that Bettman, and employee of 29 team owners, doesn’t just want a winning hand, he is holding out for the Royal Flush. Obviously, you can’t believe that all 30 teams agree with Bettman and his CBA proposals and all 30 probably don’t agree, but hopefully Bettman will do his job and work out a deal with Fehr which will benefit both sides. The clock is ticking boys: Only 30 Days left until a lockout(Bettman declared a lockout if a deal is not reached by the 15th).

Who do you think is to blame: Bettman, Fehr, the Players, the Owners? post your responses in the comments section or on your Facebook page.