Will the NHLPA's Deal Fly With NHL Owners and Save the Season?

The NHLPA has made their offer and it is a big one. Some of the highlights include a whopping 24% rollback in player salaries and a luxury tax that kicks in at 45 million at 20 cents on the dollar and increases at 50 million and 60 million.

What is curiously missing is the one single point the NHL is asking for which is player’s salaries being directly linked to league revenues. Basically a salary cap.

The question is – will this framework work for NHL owners/ The jury is still out but the two side are slated to meet this Tuesday where the NHL is expected to counter offer. The question is: will the NHL come back with a salary cap or will they sharpen the teeth of this luxury tax to make it nearly a virtual cap.

My perditions (and I am going out on a limb here so be gentle with me)

1. The NHL will come back with a amped up version of the deal with a $38,000,000 cap with a dollar for dollar tax above that. At another point – the tax gets even higher.

2. They will want non-guaranteed contracts.

3. They would be smart to not push it on the 24% roll backs. That is reportedly a 600 million dollar savings.

4. Changes to arbitration to make it more like baseball.

5. Earlier free agency

6. Lower entry level salaries

I think the NHLPA will try to tweak a counter offer like this one more time and then a deal gets done this coming weekend.

In the event the NHL comes with cap – they better have some VERY tempting goodies attached to it to make the players want to sign on otherwise I think the NHLPA will walk and the season will officially be done. In that case I can virtually guarantee the NHL will go to break the union resulting in the union giving in RIGHT before next season will start.

What are you predictions?


45 Responses to Will the NHLPA's Deal Fly With NHL Owners and Save the Season?

  1. PayUpSucka says:

    It is kind of a cap in it’s own, a very very soft cap. As a fan of a team that actually makes a profit every year i’m hoping it goes through, we shave 18 mill on the payroll and the tax is a handout to the losing markets.

  2. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    My problem is, as a Leafs fan, I can no longer hope to see almost every player play his last game, because big name players are going to sign in other places, because the system is better for low market teams.

    Still Toronto is making enough money to (even under these cir*****stances) sign the eastern conference all-stars and still make a profit.

    The Leafs management is stupid because they should realize they don’t need to spend money. We could have the Pittsburgh Penguins dress in Leafs uniforms and still fans will go every night. We’re the capital of Hockey country. (and yes I know Ottawa is the true capital, but what the hell, Ottawa doesn’t have enough fans any ways) They could make a HUGE profit if they signed losers.

    But good call making lower market teams better. I hope that it will remain fair for all teams, and rivalries like Toronto/Ottawa and Toronto/Montreal can maintain without one team totally falling apart.

    By the way. E-mail me, I am doing a poll for biggest rivalry, suggestions:






    Maple Leafs/Senators

    Maple Leafs/Canadiens

    Maple Leafs/Red Wings

    Red Wings/Blues

    Red Wings/Avalanche

    Canucks/ Avalanche






    Mighty Ducks/Stars


    Just suggestions, I’ve prolly missed some, and some on the list have no chance of winning. The Avs Sharks thing, is a playoff tiff I’ve noticed.

  3. Ivan_Mtl says:

    I think (and hope) that the owners will stand firm and insist on a salary cap. This proposal has absolutely no effect on players currently without a contract. Also, many players themselves are very unhappy about the proposed 24% roll back of their salary, and are probably hoping that the owners do refuse the offer.

    I believe that the only real solution is a salary cap – but not on an individual basis. There should be a team salary cap where the GM and owner can decide how much they want to spend on a player. Let’s take a $40 million dollar salary cap as an example. If you choose to spend $10 million on one player, that would leave you with $30 million to spend on the rest of your team. A luxury tax can then be applied to any amount over this, and would be equally distributed among the other teams.

    Also, you could trim the rosters of each team down to three lines. This would eliminate the goons and also deal with the thinning talent pool which has suffered due to over-expansion.

    Finally, the regular season is far too long. Of course, by trimming the season, it would effectively negate any roll back of player’s salaries, as their would be less money in the coffers of the owners because of decreased revenue of their home games.

    Personally, I do not miss the game – especially since there are FAR too many meaningless regular season games to begin with. I am hoping that the owners stick to their guns and fix the problem now, instead of patching it up with some short-term bandages.

  4. Kraut182 says:

    I think that the players are willing to go for a stronger luxury tax, with a lower limit and stronger tax. They just counldn’t make this their 1st offer, otherwise they wouldn’t have anything to negotiate with. So if the NHL will accept this type of system I think it can be made stronger.

    I think the players will never accept non-guaranteed contracts (nor should they IMO).

    I’m confused as to why the owners would want earlier free-agency, doesn’t this benefit players more than owners?

    And I thought the players offer already included lower entry level salaries. I think they need to be improved, but I don’t think the NHL will solve much by making 1st year guys play for $100,000 less a season.

  5. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    FLYERS/Rangers (not a mean as it used to be but a lot of history there)

    Flyers/Devils (there is a lot of hate between these teams, The devils have knocked the Flyers out in years the Flyers should have won the cup and both side know it thus the hate)

  6. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    I hope you are right that the owners come back with a more jacked up version of the NHLPA deal because it will be basically the cost certianty that they are looking for. It works in Baseball and can work in the NHL.

    Guaranteed contracts can be solved by not signing players to such LONG deals. This is up to the owners to use thier discression.

    The 24% rollback is like a one time payment for selling your company or an inheritance. The question is – are the owners man enough to not spend it all as soon as they get it.

  7. Freeze says:

    I’m not sure what will happen. A 24% cut in salaries seems huge to me. Bettman said, “it’s a start.” It’s a start?! WOW

    Can you imagine how much $$$ the big market teams will be making? They just cut their overhead by 24% and the ticket prices remain the same. I think that’s called a bigger profit margin for the owner.

    In time, the quality of the big market teams should decline from where it is today. Even if they draft wisely, it may be hard to re-sign their star players if they have too many stars. This will ensure parity and mediocrity throughout the NHL. Parity + boring (clutch and grab) hockey = the death of the NHL. Time to switch channels.

  8. rojoke says:

    The theory behind the rollbacks is because the players under contract will be making less, then the players who have yet to re-sign will also make less. All the comparable players will be making less, therefore the guys who sign after the season starts will be asking for less.

    That’s the theory anyway.

  9. rojoke says:

    I was more than a little surprised at the tax rates in the proposal. 50% and 60% were much higher than I thought they would offer. I think it is high enough to act as a deterrent to any attempts at “buying” a Cup.

    Non-guaranteed contracts are something that should be reserved for players that have established themselves in the league as perennial contributors to a team’s success. Right now, all player contracts are guaranteed, with the buyout system being ridiculous.

    The whole idea behind lowering the free agency age is two things. More free agents means more players to negotiate with, which means lower contracts for free agents. Plus it’s also a concession for getting the players on side with “cost certainty”.

    The change in the entry level salary system is both in length, 3 years to 4, and in the bonus structure. From what I understand, a lot of the previous bonuses will be eliminated, and the total bonus money available will be limited.

    The biggest laugh I get about this deal is that on numerous occasions, players said they were doing this for the players that came after them. Yet once again, the established guys sold out the kids coming into the league.

  10. the_expert_44 says:


    a 100% tax on payrolls 40-45, 200% 45-55, and 300 or 400% after that. and youve got a stable deal and a season.

  11. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    The teams deserve to make $$$. When they do and lots of it – more rich guys will want to own team thus more chances to sell teams to better owners.

    This is what I think Bettman is fighting so hard for.

    And in the end the players still get RICH!!!!!!!


  12. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    The tax has to be more harsh in order to treat the LT more like a CAP.

  13. big_booty says:

    The deal on the table now isn’t going to help solve anything.

    Goodenow was under serious pressure to get back to the bargaining table and he did. He had to put the onus back in the owners’ laps, and was successful in doing so.

    The way he did it is sneaky and underhanded.

    Goodenow is intelligent enough to have studied the spending habits of NHL owners. He knows that they want some returns on their investments. He knows that if he throws some big chunk of change back at them now and they bite, it will preserve the current system and allow it to survive long-term.

    He’s banking on their spending habits not being able to change. He’s probably right about that.

    The other thing is that Gary Bettman knows Goodenow just as well. Goodenow used to be an agent, and he’s going about this like an agent. I kind of liken it to the trick that Paul Kariya pulled with the Avalanche. Give a little now, get a lot back later.

    I heard Glenn Healy say that this proposal rolls back the economic system to where it was in the 90’s. Healy neglects to mention what happened AFTER the 90’s, when spending went up exponentially.

    If the owners really want to get something done with regards to a cap, they would be wise to do what the NFL did a couple of years back: give the players what they want. Lower the UFA age to 26.

    That’ll get the players’ heads spinning.

  14. cgolding says:

    tuesday is going to tell everything. clearly the owners are going to come back with an adjusted luxury tax system that the players just put on the table. what is the adjustment? they are going to tie the thresholds to revenue’s, at which point the players will have a decision to make… how much longer do we really want to push this?

    so the players could basically say, “screw you,” and walk out of the building on tuesday… or they’ll actually start haggling over the thing. one way or another, we going to know the future of this season i think.

    the players are trying to buy the deal they want with the 24% rollback. it’s an offer that in many respects means nothing for what the league has actually been talking about. accomplishes nothing in fixing the systematic problems that have amped up league spending. plus, who’s to say the big clubs won’t take that 24% rollback and start throwing that at UFA’s that are still un-signed (murray, kariya, etc…). no one, which is what the players are banking on.

    the owners may offer back some of the rollback — though prolly not cuz a lot of them are greedy bastards — to go with the tax adjustments. if nothing else the owners need to make a statement to the players that current contract size isn’t the real issue in this negotiation. the system itself is.

    as a fan i don’t really want non-guaranteed contracts. if a team makes a stupid decision, they should have to pay for that.

  15. Malurous says:

    To your last point, it’s obvious that the Thornton model is a horrible thing for the owners. Penguins, for example, probably wouldn’t have afforded to sign Malkin under the previous CBA. So they’re not selling the kids because the kids will get more money after the third year. As it should be. And, if you checked it deeper, if you posted Kovalchuk-like numbers in your first years, you’d still make big bucks. Again, as it should be. If the present guys give up 24% of their present salary, they’re taking the punch here. Bigger than the future guys.

  16. Malurous says:

    So, when was the league average salary 24% less? Two years ago? Ok, more, but anyway. The union is trying to sell the rollback as the main point here. Teams would be in the present mess in maybe 2006 or 2007. Or earlier, should free agents and their player agents decide to stick to old salaries. Which they probably will.

    Still, the framework is there, and if Bettman isn’t stubborn, he’ll see it and come up with a counter proposal that, mainly, has a luxury tax with a LOT more bite. A big problem here is that Bettman seems to think that a monkey’s intelligence should be enough to run an NHL team. I think that if a smart GM could run any team reasonably well, that’s good enough. With a strong luxury tax, not many free agents would get huge contracts, meaning more competitive small market teams.

    Two things that could happen: 1) the aforementioned proposal 2) Another ridiculous hard salary cap proposal. I say ridiculous, because it won’t be accepted, and it won’t be necessary if the Union’s system is implemented with care. A cap proposal would cancel the season, be horrible PR for the league and break the Union.

    And by the way, the league hasn’t even looked for non-guaranteed contracts. Nor should it, in my opinion. They might be smart to attempt to get a softened buy-out system though, especially for very long contracts. Hey, Yashin already got screwed big time, why not a bit more?

  17. Malurous says:

    A few points that I forgot: As the owners probably would have to give something back from this proposal, they could give some of the rollback. Second, would the union-proposed arbitration by club be available for players under contract? If it was, no changes to the buy-out system would be needed.

  18. Kraut182 says:

    By increasing owner profits, this does make owning an NHL franchise more desirable and also should increase the cost of owning a franchise. Thus new owners will have to have more money, but how does that make them better owners? I don’t see a link between having more money, and doing a better job running a hockey team.

  19. BlueOrangeWhite says:

    this is an ABSOLUTE NO BRAINER.

    the only reason ANYONE could possibly list ANY other answer is because they do not live in this city, and do not realize the magnitude of fan violence, consistency of hatred, volume of noise, and years of duration of arguably the greatest rivalry in sports, and EASILY the greatest in hockey.


  20. habsoverserver says:

    This was a very clever proposal by the union. It drvies a wedge between the large and small market teams. Cut the Wings’ or Flyers’ payroll by $12 million and they will reinvest that money immediately in new players that they will steal from the small market teams. Think of how much extra money those teams would have to steal Iginla, Heatly, Nash or other young stars from the payroll constricted teams. If I am Detroit, I welcome this deal. If I am Tampa Bay I pray that the owners stick together and fight for a cap or I am about to lose half my team.

    I’d say the NHLPA is not serious about settling the lockout and is hopng they can break the owners. If they do break the owners, I’m done with hockey.

  21. Freeze says:

    Good point. The New York Ranger$ are living proof of that.

  22. Freeze says:

    Here’s another way to look at things. If the average team payroll was $44 million in 2003-04, wouldn’t a 24% reduction in team payroll take it down to around $33.5 million? Isn’t that close to what Bettman was asking for to begin with? Maybe this is the NHLPA’s first step to ultimately conceding to Bettman’s demands? First talk about across the board salary cuts, then say that a $33.5 million cap would be about the same as the across the board cuts.

  23. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    It is bettman’s job to find owners that have more $$$ and have some hockey sense too…


  24. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    The Flyers could sign Zhamnov and Malikov (and another) and simply pay the tax to make one LAST run with a vertant team. I could see TO and NJ do the same thing. HOWEVER, this would be it for them.

    Note in Baseball where there is a tax the Marlins have won 2 Wolrd Series in 10 years. They are small market or at least small budget team as compared to the Yankees.


  25. rojoke says:

    For starters, the Wings are hardly one of the reckless spenders in the league. They aren’t the one who shelled out $5 million a year on Marty Lapointe. They may target certain unrestricted free agents, but they aren’t about to start bidding wars for guys based on reputation alone.

    And what players are being “stolen” from small market teams? Surely you’re not suggesting that the Wings are offering guys like Iginla heavily front-loaded contracts in the hopes that the Flames will not match. When was the last time a RFA got an offer sheet from another team anyway?

  26. rojoke says:

    What little trick did Kariya pull? The fact that he only signed a one year deal to preserve his UFA status at the end of contract by making less than the league average? Pierre Lacroix isn’t that stupid.

  27. rojoke says:

    What, you want the season cancelled? The union would never agree to those tax levels. I’m surprised they offered 50% and 60%.

  28. rojoke says:

    The key to this deal is not the roll back, nor the tax rates and levels. The key to this is the rookie bonus structure and the changes to arbitration. If there going to put a cap on rookie bonuses and what’s needed to achieve them, then that will result in a drag on salaries. Achieving two of six bonus clauses for a $3 million or $4 million payout is just ridiculous. And making the bonuses reasonable would be a start as well. Changing arbitration to an either/or system will also help. I’d be willing to guess that since 1994, there was not one player who legitimately would have held out for what they asked for in arbitration. They new that they would never expect to get what they asked for, but they would get more than what the club offered. If the system does change, I would expect to see players looking for less, and fewer playings even choosing to go that route.

  29. habsoverserver says:

    I’m talking about UFA’s not RFA’s. The Wings invest heavily in UFA’s.

    I have never said the Wings are wreckless spenders. They are ruthless competititors. Give them $12 million back and they will use it to enhance their team. From where will get the additional players? Chances are, from the smaller market teams. Talent always moves from small market to large market.

  30. the_expert_44 says:

    i was saying, from the owners point of view, that there will be a season if they get a stronger tax.

    i didnt say the players had to accept it…

  31. the_expert_44 says:

    i was saying, from the owners point of view, that there will be a season if they get a stronger tax.

    i didnt say the players had to accept it…

  32. cgolding says:

    Flyers v. Devs is a pretty massive rivalry at this point for obvious reasons. For flyer fans they’ve been the elephant in the room for a while now… helps that its been us or them in the atlantic for however many years now.

    Flyers/Leafs is growing into something pretty good down here over the last couple of playoffs and some epic regular season games to boot.

    Leafs/Red Wins has fallen off just cuz they don’t play enough…

  33. cgolding says:

    rookie contracts are an issue… but that is a minor drag on salaries in the big scheme. the issue is more the massive guaranteed contracts that are all over the place.

  34. nordiques100 says:

    the key is the number of deterrents to spending. the tax is important because if the level is high enough like 100 percent then spending will decline for sure. i am not sure with something like a 40 million dollar threshold and a team having a 50 million dollar payroll that these teams will want to continue to pay a 10 million dollar tax every year.

    another key is qualifying offers. the rollback offered will mean that players current salaries will decline and they will get a smaller qualifying offer once their contract is up. however it still would remain that the teams would have to offer 110% in order to retain the players rights. qualifying offers should only be about 75% so that teams dont have to give raises to players who have had bad seasons in order to keep their rights (i.e nik antropov and aki berg).

    both sides agree somewhat on entry level salaries and arbitration so it wont take too much now to find common ground on those terms but if the owners can put a bit more squeeze on the tax rates for the luxury tax and have more workable qualifying offers, there could very well be a system that actually would be acceptable for both parties.

    and look no hard salary cap needed.

  35. adambuffalo says:

    I would have to say sabres/leafs.

  36. NjDEVSFN says:

    the key to this deal is will the NHLPA review the NHL offer

    1) they have to, because if they dont, US Labor Appeal/Dispute, theyll side with the owners

    2) if the owners come over with a hard cap, the public knows itll expect a rejection…but what about a HARD TAX…remember, the union wants a luxury tax, so just where do they stand if they reject a tax?

    the NHLPAs deal passed with flying colors, the only question that remains is “will the NHLs?”

  37. Aetherial says:

    … yeah except only like half the players are under contract (well maybe more, but not a lot more).

    This really does nothing to address the inflationary pressure.

  38. Aetherial says:

    I think one of two things will happen…

    The owners will give back some of the roll-back in salaries and ask for a cap -OR- give back some of the rollback and kick the luxury tax up to a cap level.

    I am thinking that they will kick the luxury tax up to 1:1 starting at about 35 million and becoming like 1.5:1 at about 45 million. They will not offer to give back some of the rollback. They will not ask for “no guaranteed contracts”.

    Whatever the offer the players will reject this and hockey will be lost this year. It will begin again in October next year with either:

    A cap (at around 35 million)

    A horrendous tax (that the owners can use as a cap without fear of collusion charges)

    A 2-way arbitration scheme

    Next fall, either the union caves or there will be replacement players and the union will possibly be broken within a couple months.

    If the players think they can’t possibly give any more, they are in for a rude awakening. They CAN give more… and more… and more… and they will do exactly that when they see replacements making plenty of money while they sit at home and watch their precisou few years of playing time fritter away.

  39. cgolding says:

    If the owners don’t come off of their previous proposals in a movement towards the players… they will not be able to claim status as having “negotiated in good faith.” It will be interesting what they propose tom.

  40. N25philly says:

    I think that the NHL’s offer is going to be almost identical to the NHLPA’s exept for two areas.

    They are either going to demand a cap, or they are going to come back with a much stricter luxury tax system.

    The player salary rollback was more of a gesture and PR move by the players than anything else. It is a one time thing that doesn’t mean much in the long term, so I suspect that the owners will actually lower the percentage of the rollback.

  41. Aetherial says:

    TSN is reporting that the owners are not going to accept much of this offer at all.


    The TRUTH about this offer is that it accomplishes nothing. It does not have the teeth that it appears because so many players are not currently under contract and it does nothing to curb spending.

    Message to Goodenow and the NHLPA…


    Your tactics are not fooling anyone this time around. The owners are out to break the union. They will get cost certainty either in a prohibitive tax or with an out and out cap…

    They will get it with the NHLPA or without.

    The FACT is that this offer was nothing more than big numbers designed to make it difficult for the NHL to declare an impasse. The NHL will respond appropriately with reasonable sounding cost certainty, perhaps giving in on some numbers… and they will get their impasse… and I will love every minute of it imagining these cry baby millionaries pissing away their career.

    After years of athletes in ALL sports showing absolutely not loyalty to anything except the dollar… I have less than zero sympathy or empathy.

  42. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    Bettman better make his cap look attractive to the players like the NFL did.

    Breaking the union will happen but the game might only do 750 million down from 2.1 billion last year – when it comes back next season.

    And if they don’t come to an agreement, the league will have dangled the fans another carrot and jerked it away. How many more times can they do that and get away with it?

    My dad’s take having covered many strikes in Philly as a TV newsperson is – don’t be suprised to see the sides get even more serious as the stakes get higher and higher. Nevertheless, he still predicts the owners get their cap and that there will be no season this year. He’s a negadelphian at heart. I blindly hold out hope – albeit SLIGHT that the players get the HARD understanding that they DON’T own the teams (except Mario) and that they don’t make the rules.

  43. NjDEVSFN says:

    the worst thing the PA can do now is walk out of the meetings…even if they want to reject the new proposal right there. it would give the NHL all the ammo needed to win a labor trial, declare the impasse, use replacements, get their CAP, etc.

    of course, as you put it Aetherial, they could “wise-up” or, at least get their heads out of their a$$es

    when offered 53% of a $2billion+industry…take it

  44. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    It is scary to think about what the salaries of the players are going to look like in the new NHL. John LeClair, Yashin etc… Can you imagine what kind of a bath these guys are going to take.

    My question is:

    – do players in your minor league system stay with the team in a new CBA? I would assume yes.

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