A Fan’s Solution to the NHL Lockout

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I’m not a lawyer, a player or an owner, but I do have a vested interest in the entity that is NHL hockey. For over 35 years, the arrival of the fall season, while marked with trepidation at the upcoming temperature drop, also filled me with joy as it was a sign of the upcoming return of NHL hockey. But now, for the 2nd time in 8 years, this is not the case. The owners, not happy with the financial agreement they put in place, have locked out the players.

Before I get to my solution, I will quickly say the following. I understand both sides of this argument. Yes, the players made every concession in the agreement that ended the ’04 lockout, but they have benefitted GREATLY from that agreement, so much so that they extended it 4 years after that lockout. And yes, the owners are the ones that need policies in place because they can’t control themselves, but is it not the right of the owner(s) of a business to re-evaluate the business model and make adjustments?

All that being said, here is my new 10 year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the NHL.

Since the end of the last lockout, the NHL has enjoyed an annual growth rate of over 7%. For the sake of this argument, we are going to assume a continued growth, but at a more conservative 4%.

The players don’t want to lose anything off of their existing contracts, which is understandable. But in order to go from the current 57% of hockey related revenue (HRR) that the players enjoy to the accepted middle ground of 50-50, there will have to be concessions.

Year 1 : 54% of revenue to the players.

In my proposal, the owners will once again have a one-time buyout option of a current contract that will not count against the salary cap. But rather than a reduced amount (currently 2/3), they will have to pay 100% of the value of the contract they want to buyout. This will allow the owners to get below the salary cap while honoring the existing contracts at full value.

Year 2,3,4 : Players share is 51%, 48%, and 47%.

While the total percentage of the players take from HRR slides downwards, with the expected annual growth (4%, stated earlier), the players actual salary should not decrease, and the net final outcome of the first 4 years of the CBA is a 50-50 split of revenue.

Years 5 through 10, 50-50 split.

In year 5, the players get a serious boost as their percentage of revenue jumps 4 points to get to the 50-50 level. This will allow players just coming into the league now to benefit from some long term growth and will allow teams to hang onto some players that they normally might have to part with as a talented young team matures.

The continued split of HRR at the 50% level should allow everyone concerned to be happy moving forward.

This agreement is 10 years long for 2 reasons. First of all, it gives the fans some comfort in knowing that there will be a decade of labour peace, and they can once again put the hearts behind their teams. Second, it lasts one year longer than the current 2 billion dollar TV deal with NBC. So no matter what happens with the next deal, be it up or down, the league has a year to react in the CBA negotiations.

Overtime. 3 quick points

1-With the extra revenue now flowing to the owners, they need to put a better revenue sharing plan in place to help the “smaller markets” keep up with the growth of the larger ones.

2-Don’t limit the term of contracts. Simply make whatever amount the player is being paid in any given year the amount that counts against the cap.

3-A negotiation clause that states both sides must start negotiating, in good faith, at least 1 calendar year before the end of the agreement.

So that’s it. Let’s shake hands and make up, and drop the puck please.

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