Even some owners don’t like what’s under the cap in NHL labour dispute
The NHL owners and players may be back at the bargaining table, with the major issue of a 50-50 revenue split complete with fully paying existing contracts in sight, but trouble looms from a couple of surprising groups on each side of the labour divide.
At issue are two changes from the former collective agreement in what goes into the salary cap, in particular the payroll floor. In his last offer, before the previous round of talks broke off on Oct. 18, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said teams would no longer be allowed to count player bonus money on their payroll in order to get to the floor. He also proposed all player salaries above $105,000 (all currency U.S.), even those on a team’s minor-league roster, would now be included under the salary cap.
This alarmed two groups. One is a lot of NHL owners, many of whom were considered moderates, who are not happy that under this proposal they could no longer include on their payroll bonus money that would likely never be paid in order to get to the salary floor, which was $48.3-million in the 2011-12 season. This means they will have to pay real cash to get to the floor, a daunting prospect for clubs operating on razor-thin margins.
The other unhappy group is all of the players in the AHL, who would effectively see their salaries capped at $105,000 under Bettman’s offer. This is alarming because a veteran can make as much as $300,000 on an AHL contract, which is currently not included in the NHL team’s cap payroll.
The unhappy owners may or may not prove to be a breaking point because of an NHL bylaw Bettman smartly instituted before the 2004-05 lockout. While it takes only eight supporting votes from the 30 NHL owners to allow Bettman to reject an offer from the NHLPA, it takes 23 owners to overrule any offer Bettman makes to the players.