Jonathan Willis, edmontonjournal.com --- If the NHL gets its way on some of its demands – particularly it’s insistence that players sign five-year deals capped at the rookie maximum – that trickle will expand. To use an Oilers’ example, why would Nail Yakupov be willing to sign for five years on a contract with a base salary of less than $1 million when he could expect to make much more money much sooner in Russia? Particularly if, upon the completion of his five-year entry-level NHL deal, he could look forward to five more years of restricted free agency? Even if he were willing to do so, it seems likely that future drafts would see European players increasingly consider the Kontinental Hockey League as a viable option.Initially; after perusing some of the proposals that the owners put forth – I decided that I don’t like the idea of extending entry level deals from three to five years. Why? There is no reason to do that. A player after playing in the NHL for three season should have the ability to get a substantial raise if he has been successful. All that is going to do is steer top European players to the KHL instead of the NHL. I wonder if the Minnesota Wild would miss out on a player like Mikael Granlund?
Another interesting wrinkle is the NHL/KHL memorandum of understanding. As things stand, the KHL respects NHL contracts, not poaching talent on deals, and the NHL does likewise. If, however, the NHL starts kneecapping its teams’ ability to compete financially with the KHL, the incentive of the Russian league to respect NHL rules would undoubtedly be greatly reduced.
The possibility exists that the league owners don’t care. What they’re asking for is a huge spike in the amount of money they get to take home, massive restrictions on the negotiating power of individual players, and a much longer time period before talented youngsters start earning big money. With the possibility of huge spikes in take-home money and greater certainty that drafted players will stay in the system for the long haul, an exodus of European talent back to Europe may not bother them in the least.
Also, I don’t think the players are going to take a big cut in pay from the owners especially after some of the ridiculous free agent contracts that have been signed this free agent signing period. Donald Fehr is on record as saying that player’s roll backs are not going to happen on his watch.
Just for comparison purposes the NFL and NBA players are making 47 and 50 percent of their leagues revenues. So it will be interesting to see what the NHL players agree to, I wonder if they would go very far below 50 percent.
By comparison, during labour disputes in the past year, players in the NFL and NBA agreed to revenue shares of roughly 47 percent and 50 percent, respectively. [thespec.com]Based on the fact that the NHL made 3.3 billion last season – I don’t have a lot of empathy for the owners.
I also think that you might want to plan to do something else during the months of October and November – don’t plan on watching the NHL – because this disagreement is going to take a while if the owners don’t come down off their high horse.