Blog Entry

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

Posted on: September 15, 2011 3:20 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 5:03 pm

By Brian Stubits

We don't do this often, but this one is worthy ... On this day in NHL history, the current CBA was signed in 2005, bringing an end to the lockout after an entire missed season.

Hockey has had life a bit care-free in the past year in regards to labor, watching the NFL and NBA go through their own lockouts. The NFL has since worked out a deal without any meaningful games being missed. The NBA, meanwhile, is in danger of missing the start of the season, if not a lot more.

But the care-free days are about to wind down. The clock begins ticking now on reaching a new deal to avoid another crippling lockout. It has taken six years, but the league finally seems to have recouped from the wiped-out season, seeing popularity levels returning to and in some cases exceeding the pre-lockout highs. To put it simply, things are going alright for the NHL these days.

You don't need me to tell you how jeopardizing another labor deadlock would be to the sport's growth. There are already multiple cities facing the possibility of losing their teams partly because of a lack of fan support. I'm sure a work stoppage will really help solve that problem ...

The biggest problem that seems to be on the horizon is the ever-escalating salary cap and floor. As each continues to rise quickly, it is doing the smaller markets and those with less money no favors. They are already losing money and their operating costs are forced to go up at an accelerated rate.

On the other side of the equation, the quickly rising ceiling is allowing the teams with greater resources to stay ahead of the pack. I touched on the landscape of the East starting to take shape into a very static conference because of well-off franchises getting more room under the cap to help maintain their lofty positions. This exact problem has caused a lot of the friction the NBA is currently dealing with.

The summer spending spree we just went through will undoubtedly give ammunition to owners claiming salaries are skyrocketing. Expect to hear a lot of "Ed Jovanovski was given $4.125 million per year for Pete's sake!" arguments being made.

Kelly McParland at the National Post wrote about how this year's free-agent blitz was planting some seeds of labor doom, insisting that the owners will only have themselves to blame. But the counterargument to that angle is that many of the owners' hands were forced by the salary floor rising, inducing them to overspend.

Out of the four major sports leagues in North America, it is pretty much undebateable which can least afford a stoppage; it's the NHL. It already has the lowest fan support of the four sports as it is. It can't afford to lose the momentum it has going (and the potential of it growing a lot more if the NBA season is taken away, leaving just hockey). You think hockey suffers from a lack of coverage now? Another lockout would set it back further.

There is no doubt the best thing that can be done to avoid another stoppage is get to work on a new collective bargaining agreement as soon as possible. You might remember there is a new lead man for the NHLPA, none other than Donald Fehr. In case you need a reminder, Fehr was the man in charge of baseball's players union when that sport suffered a strike of its own. I still own a ball from the World Series That Never Was from 1994, an awful reminder of the fall without baseball.

I think Fehr will forever have a taint in a lot of sports fans' eyes as the man that cost the MLB a season. I was still in school during the strike, but my memories of the way Fehr was portrayed was as the bad guy in the whole scenario.

Nonetheless, he is going to be the point man for the players in negotiations and from their point of view, there are few better to have on your side. Fehr plans on doing a lot of travelling the remainder of this calendar year, visiting every team and learning about the sport and all of his clients. After that, hopefully negotiations begin in earnest and the uneasiness that is seeping in can be put to sleep before it truly breaks out.

The biggest hope that the sides will swallow their pride and make concessions to sign a new labor deal is that the lockout is something many of these players and owners have gone through. Nobody would want to have to go through it again. It's those memories that can ultimately be the biggest incentive to find common ground. I mean they decided to bring the shootout to the NHL after the lockout to help interest fans (needless to say, most fans I see don't like it one bit), can you imagine what they would have to bring to the game whenever they would start playing again?

Every time labor battles are being fiercely fought you always hear the mantra of "think of the fans!" In this case, I don't think it will be too tough for the parties involved to do just that. The only question is if that will deter them from holding their ground.

And on a personal note, I hope they think of the writers, too. I don't want to spend my summer like the guys at the Eye on Basketball blog keeping daily tabs on labor talk. Nobody wins in that scenario.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Category: NHL
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 9:11 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: September 19, 2011 6:34 pm

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

The NHL simply can't afford another lockout.Both sides already know it so this will get done.

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: September 19, 2011 5:49 pm

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

If the exchange rate for Canadian to US dollars returns to the more customery position where the US dollar costs more than the Canadian dollar, you will start to hear the Canadian teams start to complain about the size of the salary cap.  You can't generate 100% of your revenue in Canadian dollars and 75% of your expenses in US dollars. The economics just don't work in the long run.  The Leafs will survive regardless, but Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Calgary will not be able to handle the inequity over the long run.

Since: May 13, 2011
Posted on: September 19, 2011 2:11 pm

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

I like the way you think Habsfan#1. Be fun to see another WHA scene play out only if it gets the owners to fire bettman/daly law firm.
Balsillie I think has financial worries though with Blackberry these days.
We have seen what two strikes and a lockout under little gary's long arse reign. History has shown, him and the owners don't like to bend much to the players union demands.

weasel- Portland isn't a bad market. They have one of the best Canadian Hockey league teams the Winterhawks there. 15 players in NHL camps right now and it actually snows in Oregon unlike many current NHL markets where possible fans could go to do something else outside because you know it's not cold enough outside to skate on a friggin pond. Seattle has several WHL teams so hockey is well established there unlike texas where they have 90 and 100 degree days in record numbers. Not really hockey fan friendly temps. Dallas Stars getting bought by a Vancouver businessman so makes me wonder if he'll try to move the team someday.

Who said Columbus and Nashville are successful on this thread? wow. Delusional. BJ's are about to be bought by some public entity with money from some casino revenue and they have lost millions located in central ohio college town buckeye central. Maybe Ann Arbor, Mi should get next NHL team and they can put arena on campus, lol. Nashvillehas had major ownership problems and local corporate sponsorship weak and also must be mentioned they spend near cap floor and are the most boring team to watch play with defense all game long and hope to win in shootout strategy. Preds did nothing to improve their offense either and are about to lose Shea Weber because he wants out because he knows the chances of them winning a SC in his playing days future is slim.

Ottawa is not really a expansion team like the others, they had a NHL team in the 1920s and in Canada where hockey is not the a 4th or 10th fav sport like some markets in the U.S.

Since: Dec 31, 2009
Posted on: September 19, 2011 1:21 pm

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

Bottom line. Another lockout is something we cannot have in the NHL. The hardcore fans like myself will always be there. But just look at the indifference the NBA lockout is being treated with. The NBA has a much stronger tv package and mainstream media support, yet nobody seems to care about the lockout. All the more reason for NHL owners and players to see the landscape for what it is. Get a deal done, like it or not you have a symbiotic relationship even though it may seem parasitic by both parties point of view. Just get it done please for all of us. than You

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: September 19, 2011 8:36 am

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

Don't follow the leads of the NFL and NBA or the NHL with be dealt the death blow.  They better find a way to get an agreement in place as fast as they can.  Hell, they should do it before the regular season opens.

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: September 19, 2011 8:36 am

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

Fans don't like the shootout?  I like it.  Most people I know like it.  I think you have jaded friends.

I think everyone knows the situation, and I don't think the NHL will have another lockout.  They might modify some of the issues with the system now, but in the end they will agree.  Except for the fighting rules, I think everything they've done has helped hockey be more fun and enjoyable. 

Since: Jun 20, 2011
Posted on: September 18, 2011 11:07 pm

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

How about fewer playoff teams?

The NHL's regular season is meaningless (the same goes for the NBA) when you play over 80 games and you don't even trim the field by half.

There needs to be more of a sense of urgency to the regular season, but when 16 of 30 teams make the playoffs, it just isn't there.

Since: Nov 23, 2010
Posted on: September 18, 2011 3:51 pm

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

If players learn from the last lockout they will realize that the owners hold the power.  The players gained nothing by holding out.  Accept that now and emphasize what is working.  Stress continuity with this agreement realizing that the floor will probably drop and percentages dealing with the ceiling will probably be lower.  Give up a little more revenue but maintain free agency rules.  Institute a rookie cap and continue prospering in a league that was seemingly left for dead a few years back.  Expand heritage day to not only include Canada but original 6 teams to hopefully get it on TV more raising exposure.  Don't try and fit it or take a hard stance.  The owners will win that battle.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: September 18, 2011 3:09 pm

Look at NHL CBA with exactly one year to go

Nashville is only gaining fans. Tampa Bay has developed a real fan base. Columbus is the only one that is struggling. The rest all succeeded.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or