NHL Lockout: do not resist – the league needs this
Written on September 15, 2012 at 12:41, by HTTN
Look, no one wants a lockout. Owners, players, fans — everyone wants the NHL back as soon as possible. Problem is, too many teams were struggling under the expiring CBA.
According to Forbes Magazine, 18 of the NHL’s 30 teams lost money during the 2010-11 season. Things need to change, and until the players are willing to accept this, a lockout needs to happen.
The faulty CBA
Let’s start by stating that the goal of the 2005 CBA was to restore competitive balance in the NHL by creating greater parity. A league in which all teams have a chance to win is a healthier league overall.
Fact is there are and always have been a number of teams in the NHL are simply not on equal footing as others. They have a smaller fan base, lower box-office sales, lower merchandise sales and a smaller broadcasting deal — meaning they have a ton less incoming cash to build their teams with.
The goal of the 2005 CBA was to place a limit on how much each team could spend so the rich teams would not “buy championships,” while the poor teams watched and served as doormats. Did it work? This is what has happened since:
1. The well-off teams have had a ton of success, and have driven league-wide revenues up.
2. As revenues grew, the salary cap and floor have been inflated.
3. As a result, the poorer teams have been forced to spend more.
1. Teams looking to sign big-name players had to add value without messing up their internal cap structure, so they used longer contract lengths to entice them.
2. Rich teams played this game with no issue (see the Luongo deal), while poor teams were forced into it to stay competitive, or hoping a big name could revive their brand (see Kovalchuk or Weber).
Many NHL fans, and certainly the players, are angry at the owners for forcing yet another lockout so quickly after the last one, especially since they got the salary cap they wanted. What you must realize, though, is the salary cap they have now is not what they wanted.
When “more than half” of the teams in a league are not thriving financially (according to Bob McKenzie), something needs to change.
A new CBA
-The salary cap needs to be reduced, and more importantly, the salary floor, so more teams can be financially viable.
The players would argue that if the Rangers simply took a portion of their massive revenues and donated it to the Blue Jackets (and so on) everyone would be fine. But if you own the McDonald’s in Times Square, you’re not donating any portion of your massive profits to a fledgling McDonald’s in Esquimalt, BC.
-Contract lengths must be capped at a certain limit, so rich teams cannot offer absurd amounts of term, forcing poor teams to match.
-The definition of HRR should change to include more of the owners’ expenses such as arena improvements and the cost of selling luxury suites, because these improvements benefit the players and the bottom line.
At the moment, the players are nowhere near accepting a pay cut or any of the other concessions I’ve listed above. If they won’t listen now, maybe they will after they start to miss their paycheques.
As hockey fans who don’t care about all this money business and wish they’d just get back on the ice, we must accept that in order for the NHL to have long term success, the CBA needs to be fixed.
If we don’t want to see another lockout in six years, we need the problems to be solved this time around.