Yeah, I Had A Movement This Morning Too

Whether you’re at work or staring at your pants angrily at home this afternoon like I am, your Twitter feed blew up with the news that the NHL came up with a new proposal for the NHLPA this morning. Before we get into it and what it could mean and what it might not mean and a bunch of other things, we have to say there are a lot of things we don’t know about it and there could be all sort of snakes and scorpions in the inner-workings of it. So take it easy there, Champ.

Ok, let’s delve into what we do know about it.

The big news is that the NHL offer has a straight 50-50 split starting immediately. No rollback (kind of, we’ll get to that), same definition of HHR, and “some” protection against contracts that are obviously going to have to have some sort of amnesty or buyout so everyone can get under the new cap. There’s no step-ladder down to this. It would also start a full 82-game season on Nov. 2nd. If that can’t be met, things obviously change and this deal is no longer valid. Which makes sense, because everyone’s revenue is going to look different with less games, and though we’re angry now a full slate of games probably means we’ll forgive and the revenues won’t alter that much.

A couple of other details just rolled in. Those are entry-level deals will now be extended to four year, which was the compromise point we all looked at when this whole mess started. Free agency will also extend to the age of 28 or eight years service, down from 10 the owners originally offered but up from the current 27 and 7. This is another aspect that probably won’t hold up talks for very long when they get to them after solving the big question. I for one would like to see the entry-level deals extended, because it’s those second deals that are killing teams. And I bet a fair few veterans in the PA want to see players come into the league and pay their dues a little more before cashing in. So that’s fine.

Ok, let’s see if we can’t cut through the surface and get to what’s really at work here. A day after their PR Firm story broke, the NHL has reset the PR war…whatever that might mean. Everyone — the fans, the players, the owners — knew in their hearts that this would result in a deal that eventually got to a 50-50 split. They’re just speeding up the process. But they’re still doing their best, or at least making it look like they’re doing their best, to preserve a full-season. Which is obviously what fans want.

They’ve also taken the issue that players barked about off of it, and that’s a rollback. But have they? A straight 50-50 split this season means a salary cap of around $57.5 million. Clearly, there are many many teams over that and there has to be some sort of buyout/amnesty system to get teams under the cap (if this is what it looks like the cartwheels Vancouver and Philadelphia are going to have to pull are going to be groin-punching hilarious). Reportedly, there are “protections” in this offer, but we don’t know what that exactly looks like. We’ll have to see.

But it’s still something of a rollback. They’re not getting it from every player, but they are getting it from the select few who will have to be axed to get teams under the cap. The players union isn’t going to like that, but if it’s framed the right way they’re not going to have a choice. Again, it’s going to come down as to what those protections are for players who are obviously going to have to be chucked off their team. But the fact that “rollback” isn’t a word being used here is kind of significant.  Sort of.

I think we can safely say there’s going to be huge pressure on the players to make a deal from this and quickly. That’s another genius part of it, the clock on this is awfully small. Because it expires with the possibility of an 82-game season evaporating, there isn’t a lot of time for the PA to digest and counter-offer. But for a side that’s been very concerned with how it’s perceived, and 82-game season and a straight 50-50 split sounds pretty good to fans right now. If they really do care about this PR bullshit, they’ve got very little wiggle room.

What we can say for sure, I think, is that it’s some movement. It does seems like something you can negotiate off of, which is what these talks have been lacking. They at least have the same language to speak now instead of two different ones at the top of their lungs at the same time. But don’t start planning your road trips and get the jerseys out of the closet yet. There are many twists and turns left here and god knows what the fine print might say.


  • birdhead

    ” I for one would like to see the entry-level deals extended, because it’s those second deals that are killing teams. And I bet a fair few veterans in the PA want to see players come into the league and pay their dues a little more before cashing in. So that’s fine.”

    I’m troubled by this because so many players’ careers are 5 years or less so you’re not seeing guys paying more dues, you’re seeing guys who never get a payday at all. Especially when second contracts are RFA contracts, right? So if teams can’t get a good deal when working with basically a captive audience that’s really on them.

    I’m excited to see another offer but I feel really cynical about things like the timing of the offer after the PR firm thing yesterday, especially with the very short clock on the deal and all the talk about staring the season in a fortnight. I also think they’re taking advantage of the naive perception that 50-50 is fair just because the owners and players sort of get equal amounts under it (stop, think: if everyone at your office got together to make a cake and your boss got half the cake and everyone else you work with split the other half, is that a fair deal?) It’s really a PR assault on the players.

    … but it’s still movement.

    • stacie7

      I look at it this way. I don’t even get a percentage of what my company makes. I only get my salary, so hey I wouldn’t care if I was splitting 50% with my fellow employees. It would still be money above and beyond what I’m contracted to work for anyway.

      • birdhead

        Hey, the cake metaphor was important!

        You do get a percentage of what your company makes, you just don’t know what it is. I’m sure your company has a target for how much employee salaries take up of a year’s revenue, or a rough idea how much they can spend. Plus players’ individual contracts aren’t calculated as percentages. (There’s also the thing where players are product as well as employee.) My point was really just that there are a lot more players than there are owners so the idea that 50-50 is fair just because it’s equal is kind of odd.

        ” It would still be money above and beyond what I’m contracted to work for anyway.”

        And this isn’t true for the NHLPA.

        • stacie7

          I didn’t say it was fair, but do you see what I’m saying? I’m not getting, let’s call it a bonus, of any kind of percentage of revenue that my company makes. I’m only getting my salary. Aren’t the players still getting their contracted wages? Isn’t the 50/50 issue about splitting the revenue generated, or am I misunderstanding it?

          • boldmatter

            Cap is tied to league revenue. The cap gets set from the players’s percentage of league revenue. That’s where player’s salaries come from. It isn’t extra, it’s where their paycheck comes from.

          • stacie7

            Thanks! I had it all backwards.

          • birdhead

            Unless I’ve completely misunderstood, the HRR split determines how much the players actually get paid i.e. the value of their contracts, not any kind of bonuses or extra money.

            Here is my crude understanding: What happens is all the players get a certain amount come out of their paycheck (the numbers in their contract) over the year and go into escrow. At the end of the year they calculate HRR and give the players back however much to make sure they get 57%. (If the HRR estimate was really low the players might actually get more back than they gave but I think this only happened once in the last CBA.)

            This is why people were very frustrated with a) the league saying “there are no rollbacks” and b) the contracts signed over summer. Because what would actually happen is that very large amounts of player paychecks would go to escrow that they would never see again – you’re talking actual salary cuts, not just not getting bonuses. So while Parise might still theoretically be getting paid 12 million dollars next year, actually he only gets 8 million (or whatever) with 4 million that he never sees again going to escrow and then to the league. Theoretically he could get it all, but only if HRR increased by like 30% in a year. So it does make the contracts signed look like they were signed in bad faith.

            Maybe I’m misunderstanding your question though… and my understanding is pretty simplistic, I have probably screwed a lot of stuff up.

          • stacie7

            No I don’t think you misunderstood me, I just had it all messed up in my mind. This is why I didn’t go into a job that had to deal with business matters 🙂

      • JesusMarianHossa

        I’d strongly suggest investigating it further as it relates to NHL players. This is a concise starter:

  • ahnfire

    My first reaction when the news broke wasn’t “omg we might get hockey again!” but “omg we’ve finally reached a point where we can begin legitimate negotiations!”. Personally, I’m more than willing to have a shortened season because of a long negotiation process if it means there won’t be another lockout in the next few years.

    • raditzzzz

      i would fall into that camp, but the nhl seems intent on only signing things in the neighborhood of 6 years, and pretty much guarantees another blowup sooner rather than later. in fact thats one part of the negotiations that i think gets under emphasized. making a 10 year commitment would really go a long way toward making the league stable for its continued growth.

  • JesusMarianHossa

    Going to be a lot more than just Vancouver and Philly doing cartwheels:

    @JSportsnet: Another interesting tidbit from NHL offer. Players’ Salaries for those NHLers playing in AHL would be part of the cap

    • 2883

      You mean we can’t hide Olesz? Noooooooooooooo

      • StealingHappyHour

        To Europe with the piece of shit….

  • andidee15

    It’s probably not quite there yet, but hey, this is progress! We may actually get hockey in November! And I’ll get to watch my new Captain don the C for the first time! Yay hockey!

    • Accipiter

      Who is Don the C ?

      • andidee15

        The only person I can think of that would fit a nickname like that is the LAST person I’d want to be my team’s captain. He did coach in Denver years and years ago, so I guess it wouldn’t be his first time here at least. Besides, no matter how “snazzy” Don Cherry might think his suits make him look, he’s got nothin’ on Landeskog.

    • stacie7

      My first thought was hey I might still be able to catch a game while I’m out in Colorado. Get this shit done guys!

  • Yep, Bettman has visions of Stupid, Sexy Luntz dancing in his head. This is a very savvy PR move – and while I certainly wish the players would cave and sign the damn thing I just can’t see it happening with Fehr running the show.

    Enjoy your continued lockout.

  • StealingHappyHour

    A full season starting Nov. 2 would be fucking awesome. Games like 3 or 4 nights a week….hell yes. Sure there will be injuries, but the entertainment will be prime. Am I delusional? You bet.

    Take the fucking deal, NHLPA.

    • birdhead

      Because of a successful NHL PR move? mmm. I think it’s the foundation for productive discussion, I don’t think the NHLPA are obliged to cave just because the NHL’s finally found a way to package their message.

  • Ill take this as a nice little birthday present that there are talks! I was just talking hockey with my boss today and the thoughts of a long lockout were getting me down. Ill take what I can get!

  • I, for one, don’t give a rats ass about the offer. Not one iota of my caring or superstition following or even saying “shutout” whilst our goalies were inevitably not performing in a shutout has ever mattered in the slightest in how any game or this CBA has or is going to ultimately play out. That being said, just sign the damn thing, fuckers. Nobody in Russia or Sweden or Canada loves you like we love you and we looooove you. There. I said it. We love you, NHL-caliber hockey players. Ah, heck, we even love the other-caliber players (looking at you, Chicago netminders).