Burke has a working solution

During tonight’s telecast of the World Cup final, Brian Burke offered a 15-point(?) operating agreement that he believes will resolve the league’s labour impasse. It’s also posted on the CBC website

http://www.cbc.ca/story/sports/national/2004/09/14/Sports/burke040914.html

Here’s the 15(?) points.

1. Phase in agreement over two years

2. Commit to a 12-year contract

3. Escrow:

Seven per cent of player payroll

Ten per cent of designated hockey revenue (DHR)

Arena construction fund

4. Agree to share revenues of $200 million with $75 million coming from playoff pool

5. Avoid luxury tax by establishing a payroll threshold at $38 million and payroll minimum of $33 million

6. Set overage fees at:

1st million = $0.50 on the dollar

2nd million = $1 per dollar

3rd million = $2 per dollar

4th million = $3 per dollar

5th million or more = $5 per dollar

7. Reward good business behaviour by charging fees to repeat offenders

8. Guarantee players 55 per cent of DHR

9. Build trust with joint audit controls:

1st offence = $1 million fine

2nd offence = $5 million fine

10. Establish four-year entry-level system with a maximum $250,000 in rookie bonuses

11. Allow unrestricted free agency at age 29

12. Amend qualifying offers to:

75 per cent for players over 26 years old

50 per cent for players 26 years old and under

13. Reduce regular-season games from 82 to 70

14. Revise salary arbitration by:

Adopting baseball’s hi/low system

Allowing clubs to bring a player to arbitration

Permitting a team or player to file only once every 3 years

15. Set a drop-dead date for player signings

Technically, he says “avoid luxury tax,” but then comes out with “overage fees” for teams that go over a “payroll threshold.” I believe that this is legalese for “luxury tax.”

Anyway, there’s only two things I don’t understand about this proposal.

First, the arena construction fund. This would primarily be used in Canada, seeing as how just about every arena in the US is publicly funded. Mario could use the help in Pittsburgh though. But aside from the Islanders, Rangers, Oilers, Flames and Red Wings, aren’t all the team either in relatively new arenas, have ones under construction, or in the planning phase? And the Oilers and Flames aren’t really looking to build anew, at least not in their markets.

The second is the matter of the minimum payroll. I still don’t understand how this is supposed to work exactly. If I have a young, rebuilding club with a lot of my own draft picks on their entry-level contracts, those very contracts could and would limit my ability to reach a minimum payroll level.

I will say, to be positive, that there really isn’t anything in the proposal I don’t like. I especially like the luxury tax – oops, “overage fees.” They do penalize the teams who just don’t give a shyte about the impact their spending has on other teams, while still allowing teams to get players that would help their teams.