You can't get rid of the cap or owners will bankrupt themselves.
Maybe an unpopular opinion, but I don't expect either side to show any special consideration for fans. At least not in financial discussions. I expect them to produce a quality product at a price the market can bear. That's all. It's not like any of us will be hurt in any meaningful way if there's an extended lockout (barring those few who work in an NHL-dependent industry). So we might need to find something new to entertain us for a while. If that's the worst of our problems, we should just call ourselves lucky and be done with it. Not to say I won't be upset if we lose some or all of the season, I just don't expect any concessions from either side for our benefit.
I just want them to negotiate in good faith, and make fair offers. I've seen nothing to suggest the league is actually doing so, while the numbers seem to fall in line with what the players want. Of course, none of us has all the information so it's really pointless to keep that debate going.
Regarding the timing of negotiations: there's a reason almost all collective bargaining is done at the last minute. If there is some middle ground where both sides can agree, negotiation is really only a matter of hours. If there isn't, then you could negotiate non-stop for years and never get anywhere but more firmly entrenched. If there's no middle-ground, there has to be some external influence, such as a lockout (or sometimes just the threat of an impending one), to start changing people's minds.
Case in point: "The enforcer debate". It's been raging for what? 15 years? Pretty much no one on either side has changed their opinion at all. We all just keep repeating the same things every time the topic comes up. There's no reason for any of us to concede anything. But if someone were to come here tomorrow and say none of us will collect a paycheck until we reach a consensus... then you'd see some minds change. But it's been a heated debate for a long time, and some people are just stubbornly dug in to their position. Fighting more out of a determination to win than any real consideration of the topic
Had CBA negotiations started 6 months ago, we'd very likely be in an even worse spot now.
One thing that I've been thinking is just how much of this all comes back to the low-revenue teams. The league want to cut spending on players, not because the league as a whole can't afford it, but because some teams can't afford it (and even more teams can't control themselves). The players don't want to give up what they've been contractually promised (because the league as a whole can afford it) and want the rich teams to do more to support the poor teams.
So the rich teams don't want to support the poor teams. The players don't want to support the poor teams. The fans don't want to support the poor teams (or they wouldn't be so poor). Who does want these teams? Why is no one other than a fairly small number of fans talking about getting rid of them? Is it fair to force pay cuts on the players while the Leafs could maybe see $100M+ in profit, and a handful more could see $30-50M, just so a few s***ty teams that apparently no one gives a damn about can also make a few million? On the other hand, is it fair to ask the rich teams to support the poor ones when they don't really benefit from doing so? The PA benefits from the extra jobs those teams create, but they'd benefit just as much if those teams were in better markets, and the players have no say in team location. Revenue disparity is really the biggest issue in the league, but it seems everyone accepts it as a handicap to be worked around rather than an infection to be cured.
There's a few ways to cure it:
Get rid of the cap system. Simplest solution, and I'm sure the players would love it. Each team free to spend as much or as little as they want. Players aren't guaranteed any percentage, and the market alone determines player salaries. There's no good reason that all 30 teams couldn't make a profit in this system. Owners are dead set against it, to the point that it's almost a joke to even suggest it. They like to say it's for "parity", but really it's because the NHL if full of owners who have proven they can't control themselves. MLB, for all intents, has no cap. But they do have smarter owners. Most MLB teams make a profit, and there's some decent parity. The Yankees spend over $140M more in player salary than the A's but have a worse record. Yeah, the spending gap is higher than most NHL teams' total revenue. Spending has almost zero correlation to standing. But the NHL has too many stupid owners, so it wouldn't work. Too bad.
Widen the cap-floor separation. Similar to the above. Let the poorer teams spend less, and the rich teams more. Leave the mid-point/player's share alone. The rich teams make up for the poor teams, but unlike profit sharing the rich teams see a tangible benefit. Player's still get what they consider a fair cut, and again no reason that every team couldn't make a profit. You can also do this indirectly via soft cap/tax system, trading cap space, etc. Unfortunately, it has basically the same problems as removing the cap. Owners would need to control themselves, which they've proven they can't do.
Move a few teams. Bit more complicated, but maybe easier than replacing half the owners. Phoenix and the Islanders have to go. They're failures just like Atlanta was. I'd say Carolina too. Columbus, Florida, and Nashville possible alternates. Maybe even St.Louis. Looking at the revenue numbers, the Toronto market needs another team, and could probably support a third. Montreal could likely support another, and/or put a team back in Quebec. Vancouver could maybe support a second, and even a tiny Canadian market like Saskatoon might do better than some current NHL cities (though I don't think that it should be tried). Point is, you could possibly put six more teams in Canada and the league would be better for it. A few US markets like Seattle, KC, Salt Lake, Vegas, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis might be worth a look. Move a few teams, improve the revenue gap, stagnate cap growth rather than rollback salaries, and the PA likely buys in for a lower percentage of a bigger pie. Owners (other than the few who would relocate, or face new market competition) shouldn't care where the other teams are. But it won't even be discussed because ??? doesn't want teams to move...
The Suter and Parise UFA signing is a perfect example of why there is a threat of a lockout this season. The owners had a bidding war for them, they offered them the contracts they got. Of course they will take the most money offered, most people would. The owners give out these offers and then punish the players and fans by reneging on their offers by demanding they take a pay cut or lock them (and us) out for their stupidity.
Good for them I wouldn't play in a league run by him either
This morning, TSN's Darren Dreger said a "big-name" player said (paraphrasing): "I'd rather leave the game than give back more like we did the last time".
The Board of Governors will also meet today, voting on Uncle Gary's desire the lockout; speculation on TSN showed voting could be as high as unanimous and as low as 25-5.
Edited by Johnz96, 13 September 2012 - 07:51 AM.