NHL, NHLPA Reach Agreement On Revenue -- A Good Omen For New CBA?
The hidden yet "critical benefit to both the NHLPA and the peace process resulting from Friday’s agreement -- under which the NHL has agreed to allot an additional $20 million in hockey-related revenue to the players for 2010-11 and an additional designated $20 million for this year following challenges to revenue reported by Phoenix, Nashville and Washington -- is that escrow will not stand as a divisive issue within the union as negotiations commence for a new collective bargaining agreement," according to Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST. NHL players ultimately "will receive 97.7 percent of the face value of their 2010-11 contracts, a significant increase over the 90.6 percent the players received the previous season." Players whose "primary concern over the CBA had been escrow should be satisfied not to press the issue as the union prepares its platform for the impending negotiations" (N.Y. POST, 1/22). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote it is "encouraging, with the CBA expiring Sept. 15, that the sides can agree on something." But the "great unknown here" is whether NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "will try to extract a string of small victories around a retooling of the current document, a salary cap its foundation, or whether he’ll refuse to accept the cap that [former NHLPA Exec Dir Bob] Goodenow said he would never stomach." Dupont wrote, "Hand in hand with that cap, of course, is that key 57 percent figure, the players’ cut of all dollars the sport generates. ... With both the NBA and NFL "working with numbers a few pegs below 57 percent, it would not be a surprise to hear NHL owners bargain for, shall we say, a discount" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/22). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek wrote two of the "fixes that the owners will want for sure: 1. Knocking the players overall share closer to the new NBA levels, where a seven-week work stoppage earlier this year resulted in a 50-50 split between owners and players; and 2. Tinkering with the gap between the salary cap ceiling and floor." Duhatschek noted there will "probably be a floor in the new CBA as well, but the gap will be wider than $16-million" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/21).
WHAT ABOUT REALIGNMENT? YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika noted of last week's CBA negotiations, "The union and the league fought over money -- millions of dollars -- and they got a deal done quietly." That is "about the opposite of what happened with realignment" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/21). SI.com's Darren Eliot wrote he believes the NHL used the realignment "issue in a wider context." They "weren't drawing the line in the sand, just surveying where it might be." By not "fighting the issue -- remember the league could go ahead with the plan anyway, albeit, at the risk of reprisal from the union -- the NHL begins another passive PR campaign to gain fan sentiment on the owners' side and against the PA in general and the new boss specifically" (SI.com, 1/20).