The C word

I am talking of course about collusion. What did you think I was talking about?

Collusion is the one flaw I see in the NHLPA reasoning, the one *lie* they are telling.
Their argument is that they want a free-market economy to decide the value of players. In truth, they do not. What if a bunch of veteran free agents came on the market but nobody was buying? I am willing to bet the NHLPA would be screaming collusion whether they were right or wrong to do so.

The truth is, salary cap, luxury tax, or not… there are going to be some changes in the climate of the NHL.

Over the last few years, there are some teams that are buying at the deadline and some that are selling. There are rent-a-players starting to happen every year. There is also a gradual trend towards teams starting to talk at least about taking a financial stand.

Look at the examples of quality players who are all but untradeable right now. Look further and see how many players contracts expire this year. The Leafs are not the only team who has structured most of their salary obligations to end before the new CBA. An example… Robert Reichel is playing well this year. He is a solid and serviceable 3rd line guy who play responsibly and will chip in a few points here and there with not a ton of ice time… he makes something like 3.25 million. He is untradeable. When he is a FA, if he continues to play… look for maybe 1 million a year. I bet there are examples like him everywhere (half of them on the Leafs LOL!)

So, what happens when the over-paid players go to sign new contracts? I don’t think that a *win* by the NHLPA will mean that things will be they way they have been for the last couple years. Are teams like the Rangers going to be so anxious to sign big name UFA’s?

My feeling is that salary cap/luxury tax or not, whether there really is collusion or not, the trend is going to go down in salaries over the next few years.

A lot of big name veterans are going to come on the market and find that people won’t pay them… I see some pay decreases. Just listen to a lot of GM’s, not just Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington and Carolina.

Two years from now a Bobby Holik will not fetch 9 million. Lapointe won’t get 5 million, Hell, Jagr won’t get 11 million. What would a half-a-season Forsberg be worth even?

Changes are coming, regardless of the CBA and if it isn’t out and out collusion I think it will be (finally) a modicum of common sense being shown by the owners.

6 Responses to The C word

  1. shady_records says:

    That is the goal, to decrease salaries.

  2. rojoke says:

    I’m not entirely certain of how the whole “collusion” threat became so powerful. Once Alan Eagleson was out of the picture, the key piece that the owners depended on to keep player salaries down disappeared. Then, with all the expansion teams and the new corporate ownerships invloved in the league, that threat should have disappeared as well. Six owners (if you count the Norris family, then it’s four) were easily able to divide the pie. Twelve owners was a little more difficult, but still possible, as the new guys didn’t want to rock the boat. But once it got to 21 teams, and finally to 30, it becomes more and more difficult to keep everybody in line. Then you throw in the legal responsibility that could fall on publicly traded companies like Disney, Comcast or Cablevision, and you could basically scuttle a billion dollar conglomerate over a very minute aspect of its operations. They don’t want to risk that just to make a small profit on a sports franchise, not when it could bring down everything.

    I think that the smartest thing the owners could do would be to call the PA on this and force them to make a formal charge. Make them go to court and prove that every team, with the support of the league office, conspires to restrict player salaries. Because defense exhibit one would be the recent report that the NHL pays the highest percentage of revenue to the players. Defense exhibit two is the fact that the NHL has the highest average salary of the four major pro leagues in North America. And exhibit three is the payroll of the NY Rangers, Leafs, Red Wings and Avalanche. Jury should be back pretty quickly on that. Then just sit the hell down and work out a deal.

  3. JStatic87 says:

    Good article, change does definitely have to happen.

    The rent-a-player has been around for years though. Remember Esa Tikkanen?

  4. bubbakazoo says:

    Your response is so well put. It’s a pleasure to read such an intelligent and well worded comment. Occasionally there is a dearth of informed and structured thought.

  5. stoptya says:

    eh, great article !!! There has to be something resolved with the CBA or like you say the downward trend in salaries has to happen. With 30 managers / owners in the league with big money and not afraid to throw it around, its been hard to keep everyone in check in regards to salary concerns. Both sides of the arguement are equal to the blame for the state of the league now. If it doesn’t get resolved now, the league can very easily drop back down to 21 teams again or even less. It may take a while to agree on terms, but I’m willing to miss out on hockey for as long as it takes. Hard to feel bad for a bunch of spoiled millionaires ( both players & management ) when I can’t justify blowing $500 to take my wife and kids to a game. I’ll watch more junior and college games. No sympathy here.

  6. rojoke says:

    Thank you very much.

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