NHL Drawing Line In Sand Moves Parties Closer To A Deal


The NHL today announced that commissioner, Gary Bettman, would meet with the 30 teams likely to discuss the end of the 2004-05 season on January 14, 2005. This announcement comes as the NHL has been publicly reluctant to mention at what point the season would be lost.

In the 1994 labor dispute, a deal was struck on January 11th and a 44 game season was salvaged. This move by the NHL is an important one towards cranking up the pressure on the NHLPA to give into the league’s “cost certainty”. While many players say they will never accept a “cap” there are other groups of players who can’t be too happy with the direction their union leader is taking them. High priced players like John LeClair have most of $18,000,000 to lose on the last two years of a four year deal. Alexi Yashin has it even worse cnsidering how long his current contract is. And Bobby Holik, who seems to always have a soundbite about how players are worth every penny of their worth, will lose a good part of his $8,000,000 per year deal in a new CBA.

Its hard to feel bad for the big ticket players who are so loaded with cash that their lives aren’t impacted all that much by the lockout. Younger players who are just making their way in the NHL are hardest hit by the lockout. In a cap-based system, these up-and-coming players still have a lot of room to make millions upon million of dollars per year more than they make now. What they need to prove their worth is playing time and that is exactly what their union leader is not getting them by refusing to accept a finical system like the ones that run far more successful leagues like the NFL and NBA.

I predict the lockout will end and there will be a 40 to 44 game season. The stakes are far too high for the players who need to be clinging on to the old-school contracts that they have with their current teams. Their agents are assuredly informing them that the union will be broken eventually (as it happens in every labor dispute that goes this long) and that their contracts will be worthless in the new, low-cap league. Owners have a similar problem. Small market teams are already worth very little (less than the 50 million dollars the NHL wants for a new franchise) and will be worth less after a year off. BIG market teams like Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Toronto and others will go from being worth upwards of $300,000,000 to $125,000,000 or less by the drop of the puck next year. And in the event that Gary Bettman’s changes to the game don’t work to drive TV ratings in the US OR fans are too bitter to get back to going to the games 44+ times per year – the game is in huge trouble.

Ironically, the two side aren’t too far apart (despite some reports) in terms of numbers. It is semantics that they are basically fighting over. Is a luxury tax at $40,000,000 that is dollar for dollar not a cap? I know that isn’t exactly what the players are offering now but they might when push comes to shove. And for that matter why not go for a $47,500,000 cap with a franchise player or two per team and room for some bonuses? Would that be so harsh for the players? Would they be starving? Hardly. The owners want their cap and they are going to get it now or they will get it the hard way. They players better understand how serious they are because their is now way for them not to lose. Note: average salaries in Europe are about $500,000 per year USD. Hardly the $1,833,000 average in the NHL – even with a 24 percent rollback.

As Christmas is upon us, crunch time has come for the NHL and the NHLPA. The players are mostly in control of what happens in the end. They are fighting a battle based in the kind of greed and lust for money that got the league in the trouble they are in now. I don’t blame the owners from trying to win even if they can’t be trusted with a budget when tempted with the idea of taking their team to the playoffs for a chance at Lord Stanley’s glory. I blame the agents and union for allowing the blackmail that goes on in player negotiations.

The NHL and the NHLPA are the shepards of the game of hockey at its highest level. They have responsibilities to keep it healthy and exciting for generations of players, owners and fans. In this time of reflection at the holiday season I wish for Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow to think long and hard about the joy that they are stealing from the people who allow them to be millionaires thanks to talented me playing a child’s game. I would suggest that ‘Tis the season for more than material gain. Get a deal done. Drop the puck and get this party rolling before you ruin it forever.

Merry Christmas to hockey fans (not excluding Leafs and Rangers fans either)

Jerry (about to be freezing his sorry California Ass off in Philly) Del Colliano

13 Responses to NHL Drawing Line In Sand Moves Parties Closer To A Deal

  1. habsoverserver says:

    If the NHL and the NHLPA are the shepards of the game, then the fans are the sheep of the game.

  2. hockeyhead says:

    you know i was thinking…..my passion for the game is declining. when i was a kid….i mean i could nt miss a bruins game. i started getting the hockey news for my 16th birthday. twenty years later….and i am losing it. i still get my hockey news but i have not even opened the last two issues. i will get another one tomorrow unless the have a holiday break which i think they usually do….anyway i probably won’t open it any way.

    what is there to read. this is far beyond rediculous. and if they cancel this season…..that will really cause my passion to decline. if i get any thing for christmas and b-day…can it be NHL 05.

    go steelers. go hockeysockpuppettheatre

  3. habsoverserver says:

    a steelers/bruins fan?

  4. guinsfan4life says:

    A luxury tax is different from a hard cap. The luxury tax would be a joke because the big spending teams wouldn’t care about having to pay the tax.

  5. 19Yzerman says:

    HEY NHLPA!! hang on boys because the road is going to get kind of rough and the children that can’t see out of the covered wagon don’t know why you choose this bumpy road. All they know is you have been telling them the place you are bringing them to is the land of cash cows and all you need to know is how to milk those cows. So if the rope in your hand starts to slide tie a knot and tighten your grip because you know if you lose control of this wagon its going crash hard and you may never get to those green pastures once the NHL gets a hold of you after the dust settles. The NHL will take those children and brain wash them. You will be given just enough rashions to get you back to the land of socialism where everyone is taught that no one can be any better or worce than the other. So pop in that REO speedwagon CD and play the song ridin the storm out. There is milk in them there cows and every body knows it because they sit there all day long just eating all our green grass.

    GO NHLPA you can do it!!!!!!!!!!

    If the kids bother you tell them to sit down and shut up. You know what best for them.

  6. 19Yzerman says:

    Yea its easier to color cordinate that way. Try being a lions, red wings and U fo M.


    Wings/Cardinals (AZ)?

  7. Beckfan5 says:

    Mets, Knicks, Islanders

    Even though im not

  8. rojoke says:

    So what you’re saying is that you’re not a “hockey” fan, you’re an “NHL” fan. You’re not even interested in what’s happening with the Providence Bruins.

    I too get my Hockey News every week, but unlike you, I read it. I don’t follow the CHL as much because the coverage in my area isn’t very deep, but I still read about them. The presence of a QMJHL team next year will change that, but then I won’t get to follow the AHL as much.

    And we’re only two days away from the start of the best annual hockey tourney in the world, the world juniors. Let’s not forget one thing in all this. The NHL is hockey, but hockey is not the NHL.

  9. rojoke says:

    That is a great analogy. The whole covered wagon, wild west, frontier days thing is pure genius. But it reminded me of a specific incident in US history that fits in perfectly. A group of settlers set out for a trip to the western territories. However, due to poor planning, they ended up caught in the mountains, due to severe weather, I believe. They were unable to go anywhere, and quickly exhausted their supplies. They eventually resorted to drastic measures in order to survive. Most historians refer to them simply as the Donner party.

  10. UsedandAbused says:

    This sucks… Maybe we the true hockey fans here at Hockey Trade Rumors should start a new league. I bet we could do a whole hell of alot better at running it then those running the NHL.

  11. hockeyhead says:

    steelers and bruins yes….colors are coinkydink

    rojoke…don’t get me wrong. i read things…hockeysockpuppettheatre and two in the box. but really there is nothing else since the lockout to read. no stats nothing.

    i do like the p-bruins but they have only shown one game. they hardly show college.

    the only hockey i have been watching is old vintage bruins games which is good.

    i love hockey and want to be a fan forever but this lockout is really damaging.

  12. aafiv says:

    I read an interesting article this morning that the intellegent thing for the owners to do would be to NOT declare the season cancelled but rather to do nothing at all and allow the season to expire in the spring on its own.

    The reasoning is that the owners’ strategy all along has been to have an impasse declared so that they can impose their own rules and then bring in replacements in an attempt to break the union.

    If the owners unilaterally cancel the season the way that they unilaterally imposed a lockout, it will be difficult for them to convince labor boards in Canada and the U.S. that they have made a good-faith attempt to negotiate with the union.

    In my opinion, either way the owners have an uphill battle to convince anyone that they have negotiated in good-faith with the players because they simply haven’t. This whole affair is about owners desiring to impose their will on the players. Negotiation has never been a a part of the plan as far as they are concerned – unless you call their demand for a cap ‘negotiation’.

    I predict that the season will expire on its own without the owners cancelling it and that the NHL will lose 18 months to two years before there’s hockey again.

    P.S. – for those of you who still insist on supporting the owners, remember that if they get their “cost certainty”, you’ll still be paying the same amount for your season tickets. The owners don’t care about you, the players, or the game of hockey. They only care about their money.

  13. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    Dude, study labor disputes. The owners always win in the end.

    In this case both sides will lose. Teams will be worth less at the drop of the puck next year. Players will have lost their salaries for their current contracts and there WILL be a cap. Who cares what ticket prices are? Can’t afford the games? Buy an HDTV rear projection set for $1595 and get the NHL Center Ice Pass. That will cost you way less than $2,000 and you can watch NHL games in HDTV for years to come (or about 2 tickets to a Leafs game – for 4 games).

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