* Walks up to the mic*… *TAP TAP TAP*… Is this thing on?? That is right Blues fans, after 113 days of CBA ridiculousness the end has finally come. This morning around 4 am Central Time the NHL and the NHLPA came to a tentative agreement. Speculations from multiple sources (TSN,Bob Mckenzie, Rob Rossi, ESPN to name a few) have the agreement set as a 10 year deal with an opt out clause starting in the 8th year. While there are many more details of this deal to come out in the coming hours and days ahead I would like to take a few moments to harken back and take a little ride through this hell that was the collective bargaining process or the lack there of at times.
When was the last time you heard Darren Pang yelling at the the top of his crazy giddy voice ” Thanks For Comin” or ” Why Wouldn’t He?” To long is the answer you’re looking for. It baffles me to no end why the league would think it is ok to host another lock out only 7 years removed from the last which ended up costing the NHL an entire season. Let us take this one step farther and take the selfish, entitled, fan out of the equation for a moment. The real losers in all of this CBA Foot stomping, red-faced, hog wash are the folks who depend on this league for employment along with those businesses that thrive in the community because of the loyal hockey fans that patronize their businesses. Who was/ is there for those folks? O, that’s right, no one… They had to bite the bullet and stand in the unemployment lines or pick up extra shifts just to cover the lost wages that were a direct result of greedy men ( On both sides I would like to point out.) You can make the argument ” O, well that is business and it is not a fair world.” Yes, of course you could make that argument but in this case there was the ability of the league to continue to operate making money for all ( questionably in a few markets yes) but instead use another lock out as a bargaining tool/ pawn. If you look at the situation that just ended from this perspective you can not help but feel a fiery burst of anger somewhere down deep in your soul. The NHL has hurt the fans and its supporting community with this lock out. The real question is how quick can the league repair those bonds and bridges torched since september 15th 2012. There will be those who rush back to the ticket office and swipe up tickets as if they were going out of style that is a given. Now, some of you will say ” Tony, so what.. who are you to judge those folks?” I would respond that each person has their own choice to make about when and if they will come back and support the NHL and in our case locally the Blues. I can tell you that I refuse to purchase tickets, merchandise, or any other form of monetary support for the league for at least the first 10 games of the season when it reconvenes( I took the Just Drop It pledge). After those first ten games I will return my support of the league. I will, however, still feel some anger for what has transpired these past months and moving forward you can rest assured I will not forget along with many of my passionate hockey counterparts. Which side of the red line will you be on when opening night finally arrives?
Ok, enough with my soap box bitch session.. Let’s get into the facts of the new CBA that have been reported on up until this point. As is being reported by NBCSN online the deal is said to be at the afore mentioned 10 year term length with a kick out claus starting in the 8th year for both sides. This means that they can extend the currently negotiated agreement up to 10 years or file petition to negotiate starting in the 8th year. I would suspect it will go the full ten years at this point but unforseen financial happenings could change that forecast.
Salary: The cap for this season(2012-2013) is set a $70.2 million and then next season(2013-2014) will drop to $64.3 million. The League had reportedly wanted a figure of 60 million but gave in to the NHLPA who wanted the 64.3 million dollar figure. It was also mentioned that the cap floor will be $44.o million dollars for both 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.
Contract Length/Variance: We all know these contracts were said player got a gigantic front loaded deal and a miniscule back-end were a way for teams to circumvent the cap well here is where the league got its way. The new rules states that year to year variance in contract pay can be no larger than 35%. For easy math look at it this way. If player B gets 1.0 million dollars this season next season his contract can only increase to a maximum $1.35 million dollars. They also set a 50% variance limit from the highest to lowest paid salary during the length of the contract. Thus a player making 10 million in his first season( or any year of the contract as I am using this as the top paid year) of a 7 year deal can make no less than 5 million in any of the seasons preceding or following the highest paid season.
Draft Lottery: All 14 teams not making the NHL Playoffs will be in the hunt for the number one spot in the draft. Unlike in the past where the bottom four teams were the only ones in the lottery for that said pick now more teams will be able to obtain that coveted spot in the draft. There was an unclear change in the number of positions a team can trade up or down and I will provide further detail on that portion as it becomes available.
Suspensions/Discipline: Sheriff Brenden Shanahan retains the power to Shanaban folks moving forward. The process will now take all appeals of said Shanabans through Gary Bettman which is a change from the past and will be interesting to see what Mr. Commish does with this new shiny toy. Suspensions resulting in 6 or more games will go through a third-party which has yet to be named.
Miscellaneous Items:Revenue sharing will no be increased to 200 million dollars and the NHLPA has negotiated a ” growth fund” of 60 million dollars to help support teams during financially hard years and or new teams getting off the ground in non traditional hockey markets. There has not been a lot of talk as to what exactly this growth fund is or how it will ultimately be paid out so stay tuned for more on that subject.
There will be a joint NHL/NHLPA committee set up outside of the agreement to deal with discussions on Olympic participation of NHL players. This CBA does not include any language to govern in one direction or another regarding this issue.
Teams will be given two amnesty buyouts over the next two years to help them get down to the new $64.3 million cap ( from $70.2 million) Please see This Link for more details on what this means.
Minimum player salary base this season will remain at the current $525,000 dollar mark and by year nine and ten increase to 750,000 dollars which is a bit shy of what the NHLPA had been rumored to want but conceded in the negotiation.
As that is the end of the information trail that I have I will leave you with a few closing thoughts. If you had told me two days ago that this morning I would be writing this post and thanking my lucky stars hockey is on its way back I would have laughed. In the days ahead the NHL and the Players have a very tough task of making things right with the fans. There is no measuring stick to forecast just how bad the NHL has damaged itself during this lock out. Only time and many many discounted tickets/ give aways will tell if the fans and the sponsors will return to the barns and chant their team’s name or flood the caufers with sponsor dollars. I will be back cheering in short order but beat your sweet ass it won’t be without a chip or two on my shoulder.
LET’S GO BLUES!!!!!