The salary cap is exactly that. It's not collusion because they're all franchises of the league. But by linking players salaries to revenue and putting a hard cap on it, the owners have already done exactly what you're saying.
Jim, there's no need to get so upset here. Besides, if the league had let you buy Phoenix, you'd be on the other side of this argument now.
A fair CBA does exist for all 30 teams, it's just a matter of getting there. The quickest thing to do would be substantially lower the cap floor. The floor, while a good idea in theory, just serves to drive up the cost of scrubs while cheap teams need to fill roster space to get to the floor. If it wasn't for Florida needing to get to the floor, does anyone seriously think Tomas Kopecky makes anywhere close to 3 mil per season? Your bottom dwelling teams are all offering these crazy contracts to the same scrubs they always have, but now you have Ville Leino saying "If Kopecky is worth 3.5 a year, then I know I'm worth 6." Of course the players love this. If you're Jeff Finger or Wiznewski, you love getting a fat check for a mediocre skillset. But that's not healthy longterm, and leads to escalations of salaries ala Suter/Parise/Weber.
You say noone forced the owners to give these guys the contracts. This is true. However, if the owners all got together and decided they wouldn't spend more than x dollars for any contract, everyone would be complaining about collusion and how the system's not fair. Can't have it both ways.
If they got rid of the salary floor, or made it a percentage rather than a hard number based on the cap, and removed revenue sharing, that would go a long way to sorting this out. Let the CBJ spend nothing on players, and let them die. But they players wouldn't accept that either. Teams going away means less jobs in the NHL, and Ericsson, Emmerton, Drew Miller, etc. would end up in the AHL.
There's no easy solution here, but you can't pretend the players are operating in a vacuum either, and that the only party at fault is the owners/league.
I'm not understanding how removing revenue sharing would help given the big problem is the disparity between the rich and poor franchises.
I do agree though that there's other ways to helps costs by doing things like lowering the cap floor. The owners seem fixated on just reducing players salaries, but they could help contract inflation through other avenues besides the players percentage. Lower the cap floor. Limit the length of contracts. have the yearly payout be the same as the cap hit instead of the average. Eliminate signing bonuses (I honestly thought those were already gone).
I'm guessing the problem is that the owners of the wealthy franchises like all those things because they give their team a competitive advantage. 30 owners may have voted for the lockout, but don't forget that the Flyers made an offer sheet to Weber structured so it would basically financially cripple Nashville. But the one thing they can all agree on is it would be great to pay players less.
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