December 09, 2004

Final Offer: The NHLPA has put forth what is believed to be their best and last offer towards saving the NHL season. If this offer doesn't provide a basis for negotiation, and the owners reject it outright, we can probably kiss the season goodbye. Details of the proposal inside.

posted by Succa to hockey at 01:23 PM - 19 comments

According to reports in the New York Post and Ottawa Sun, the union's proposal to the league includes: # A luxury tax set at $40 million US with teams fined 75 cents for every dollar they go over. Funds raised by the tax would be shared among teams that are not taxed. # Entry-level contracts for four years (up from three) with a cap of $850,000 per year. Performance bonuses would still be allowed. # Final-offer arbitration, meaning an arbitrator must pick either the offer of the team or the offer of the player. In the past, an arbitrator could pick any figure between the two offers. # A one-time rollback of 10 per cent on current contracts to offer immediate help on salaries. NHLPA vice-president Daniel Alfredsson wouldn't give details on the union's proposal on Wednesday, but said its latest offer is an improvement from the one the NHLPA pitched three months ago. "We feel we've moved quite a bit," the Ottawa Senators forward said. "If they say there's nothing to talk about, well, then there isn't anything to talk about. (The proposal) is not going to get much better. This is pretty much the full deal."

posted by Succa at 01:23 PM on December 09, 2004

I think the players have given up quite a lot here. That luxury tax is quite prohibitive. 10% rollback seems anemic, but for the guys on the lower end of the pay scale it's probably a lot to ask. If the league doesn't at least nibble on this, I don't see hockey this year.

posted by Succa at 01:26 PM on December 09, 2004

My thoughts: Other than the fairly strict luxary tax structure the players offer is a bit of joke in my opinion. They may have done that as a bit of a PR move so they can appear to 'giving up more' to get a deal done. # The NHL hasn't flinched from having a hard salary cap, and they arn't going to now. At best the league will counter offer with a luxury tax kicking in at $ 35 million, and a hard cap set at 60% of total league revenue (ballpark it at around $45 million). The players say 'Get bent' and then really the rest of this is acedemic. # The entry level restrictions are useless without including preformace bonuses. NHL will counter with a $1 million / year cap including all bonuses (signing and performace) # A good start on arbitration. The NHL will demand the ability for teams to take players to arbitration. # The rollback the players keep harping on really means nothing to the owners simply because it's a one time deal. If salaries keep climbin' the 10% roll back would be gone in 2 years. My guess is in the NHL's counter they either reduce this or drop it all together. Overall I've not very optimistic about our chances. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

posted by camcanuck at 01:59 PM on December 09, 2004

Agreed Succa. I also think the entry-level contracts at 4 years and $850K are very owner-friendly. Of course, selling out the youngsters is common for players associations. Any word on how the talks are going? Are they still going?

posted by 86 at 01:59 PM on December 09, 2004

camcanuck, what does it mean for a team to take a player to aritration. I don't know, but I'm too lazy to look. Little help?

posted by 86 at 02:02 PM on December 09, 2004

if a team does not feel a player has fulfilled/performed to the standard of the contract, they can ask for some money back.

posted by garfield at 02:09 PM on December 09, 2004

Other than the fairly strict luxary tax structure the players offer is a bit of joke in my opinion. They may have done that as a bit of a PR move so they can appear to 'giving up more' to get a deal done. I think the relatively tame non-luxury-tax concessions are there to give the NHL something to sink its teeth into. Since the players won't budge on the tax/cap issue, those are areas where the union wants to incite a counteroffer. In other words, those areas are Open To Negotiation, and yes, it's probably a PR move to a degree. And I agree about the 10%. It'll get swallowed in three years anyway, and the number should be closer to 20% for the players at the higher end of the pay scale.

posted by Succa at 02:21 PM on December 09, 2004

camcanuck, I hope you're wrong too.

posted by chicobangs at 02:24 PM on December 09, 2004

TSN is reporting that talks are done for the day with little progress made. No plans to talk tomorrow, but they will meet again next week. Can these guys actually drag this out any longer! Arghhh! The NHL has a news conference scheduled at 4:45 EST (about 10 minutes from now) 86, in the old system if a players contract was up he could accept a teams offer (which had to be at least 10% more than he was paided last year) or ask to go to arbitration to get more money. If the player had a bad year he would take the 10% raise because an arbitrator might cut his pay because of his poor play. The owners want the power to force the player to an arbitrator so they reduce what he is paid rather than being forced to give him a 10% regardless of how well he played.

posted by camcanuck at 03:50 PM on December 09, 2004

But camcanuck is not wrong. If the owner's do not get the cap the league is dead (it may already be). Pretty simple...the players can take less or take nothing. Those are their only choices at this time. Not saying right or wrong, just the way I see it. Did the owner's make this mess? Largely, yes. Are they greedy corporate bastards? Most probably. Are they lying about their finacials? Perhaps, but I would wager it is not so far off of what they report. The NHL is a niche sport again now. It cannot compete revenue-wise with the NBA, NFL and MLB so why do the players feel like they should be payed like those other sports' players? The gravy train has dried up and the players really need to step back and realize "That was good while it lasted. I guess it's over now." What is the upside in killing the league? I don't really see it.

posted by pivo at 04:01 PM on December 09, 2004

ESPN is reporting the salary rollback at 24%, not 10%. That's starting to sound substantial.

posted by chicobangs at 01:02 AM on December 10, 2004

It's not THAT substantial unless the players agree to make it permanent. Even at 24%, that rollback gets eaten up by two factors: 1) inflation and 2) NHL owners signing guys like Bobby Holik for $9M, which is why they need the cap -- to protect themselves from their own idiocy.

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:09 AM on December 10, 2004

How do you make a rollback permanent? in three years do players agree to a contract and then knock off 24% right before they sign it? it is must be up the the owners to take advantage of any rollback by, in the future, not paying guys like lapointe $5m a season and maybe keeping the top earners in the league in the $6-$8m range. and you're right, there needs to be some idiocy cap installed. While Holik would be an idiot not to take that money, it is the owners who are idiots to offer it.

posted by gspm at 10:02 AM on December 10, 2004

It's not THAT substantial unless the players agree to make it permanent. Why is it up to the players? They've made an unprecedented offer in the history of free agency of sports -- cutting every player salary by 24 percent and a luxury tax that puts downward pressure on salaries. If the owners get all that and still spend themselves into bankruptcy, they deserve all of the blame.

posted by rcade at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2004

Also, inflation works both ways so that revenue would also be higher three years from now. Look at the continual rise of the caps in basketball and football.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:22 PM on December 10, 2004

Here's my comment, and rcade, I agree with you completely. Here's my post from another forum: Can someone tell me what other business exists out there where the workers have to set up the structure to keep their bosses from overpaying them? Why in God's name would any union agree to putting a cap on what its members can earn? And someone give me the name of the last NHL franchise to go bankrupt! These idiots drove the prices up themselves -- now they want the players to pay for it, to hand back money on contracts THE FREAKING OWNERS signed off on! Look, I don't disagree player salaries are out of line with the amount of money that's available. Without a decent television contract, there's just not the kind of dough flowing for the top players to get megacontracts. The union has conceded this to some point with the rollback, the new arbitration format, etc. But then to expect them to also allow a cap because FOR THE SECOND TIME IN 10 YEARS, the NHL might screw up a relatively fresh start for the league, that's just too much. Use a stiffer luxury tax to penalize those who go off and spend $100M to put together a bunch of stiffs (are you listening, Rangers?), but hold the people signing the checks accountable, for God's sake. They were obviously smart enough to get together the scratch for an NHL team somewhere -- ask them to use that same business accumen in the league.

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:10 PM on December 12, 2004

Looks like the season is kaput. Fuck the owners. This is all -- ALL -- their fault. I agree with wfrazerjr completely. They haven't given a substantial reason yet why they shouldn't be held accountable, and I hope the judge that presides over the attempts at impasse throws Bettman out on the street like the bum he is. ARGH.

posted by Succa at 04:35 PM on December 13, 2004

Can some photoshop Goodenow and Bettman onto the "Meet the Fockers" poster....and include one well-placed misspelling? Thanks. Need as funeral pall, in order to properly bury this season. Please send to: 2004 Drowned Your Sorrows Way Pickleton, NJ 24024

posted by garfield at 05:06 PM on December 13, 2004

no, i don't have anything better to do with my time.

posted by goddam at 10:53 PM on December 13, 2004

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