Sunday, July 03, 2005

Players May Sabotage New CBA

Stan Fischler reminds us that a new CBA, even when agreed on by the negotiating groups from either side, is not a done deal. It must be ratified by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA membership. And of course the NHL Board will give it the thumbs up because all indications point to it being their CBA. The question is, what will the NHLPA members do? And, according to Fischler's sources close to the players, "hyper-militant union members" are determined to sink the deal. This hard-line faction reportedly includes an NHL goon and a retired enforcer close to the union. They have been talking with players and are looking to circumvent the current negotiation process, which does not involve Bob Goodenow. That key fact sets up "Goodenow's Last Stand," where he will rally for support among respected rank-and-file members who may be able to pull in more "no" votes. I do not think this effort will work. More and more players are coming out to publically trash Goodenow and the NHLPA's sudden softening on stances. Jaromir Jagr, Jeremy Roenick, Manny Legace, among others, as well as Chris Pronger, Jarome Iginla and Robert Esche, who were a part of the February Faction who attempted to save the season by bypassing Goodenow. Sure many of these players would've wanted to keep those hard-line stances, but at this point they distrust Goodenow and are likely ready to throw the towel in. According to a high profile player:
"If it wasn't for Goodenow's ego, this deal would have been a slam-dunk already. I'd say there are at least 80 percent of the NHLPA furious with Bob over his handling of this."
Which gives us hope that Goodenow's Last Stand will fail and will become a transition to his resignation or termination from head of the union. And why is the progress so slow? Why are they meeting 75 hours a week and still need more time? According to a team executive:
"This won't be like 1995, when the owners rushed to get the deal done and we didn't read the fine print. This time, it won't be signed until every word is in its proper place."
And according to one of the CBA architects:
"In a legal sense, this is like re-inventing the wheel."
So stay patient. A deal by July 15 seems to be the unoffical deadline. UPDATE 7:54 pm
"This is going to be a tough sell to the players and a bitter pill to swallow."
The players certainly won't like what else their leadership has given up. According to what sources from both sides have told the Ottawa Sun, this is the framework for the new CBA: -Hard cap set at 54% of revenues ($24-$39 million range) -Dollar-for-dollar luxury tax starting at $30 million -15-20% of player salaries put into escrow every year, to cover team costs if revenue marks aren't met, in addition to 24% rollback - Entry-level salaries capped at $850,000 for three years, maximum signing bonus of 10% per season, meaning Crosby has no reason not to sign in Europe -Qualifying offers kept at 100%, without 10% raise for players below the league average -Contracts from last season will not be honored, meaning an influx of free agents -Unrestricted free agency at age 30 in 2005-06, age 29 in 2006-07 , and age 28 in 2007-08 -One-time, two-thirds buyout of existing contracts, not counting towards the cap -If a team buys out a player, it can't re-sign him for another year -Commissioner Gary Bettman may have absolute power to fine and suspend players -Maximum fine will be more than the current $1,000 -Minimum salary increased from $175,000 to $400,000


At 7/04/2005 03:52:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

Uh, the players will accept the CBA because the fans will lynch them if they don't. They will have to bite the bullet and pass it or else they'll be swinging from lampposts in their respective cities. They know fans want hockey back and if they're smart, they do too, whether the CBA is their ideal or not.

At 7/04/2005 04:24:00 PM, Blogger Brian List said...

Yeah it's definitely a longshot, but it'd be interesting what percent votes "no." I'd be surprised if it's more than 5-10% at this point, roughly 30-70 players - one or two naysayers per team. If it's a vote where your peers see your vote on the record, then maybe less say "no." If it's anonymous, then it could be a higher percent.

At 7/05/2005 09:31:00 AM, Anonymous Sean Kaye said...

Well, if you're a European player, thinking of playing in Europe next year for more money, why wouldn't you vote against the deal? You have nothing to lose.

The other group who could vote against the deal are the players who feel they have legitimate contracts for next year. Again, they have nothing to lose by voting against the new CBA.

I don't think there will be a "Pro-Goodenow" faction. From everything I've read he's been totally marginalised and frankly, I doubt the NHL would agree to negotiate with him again if they've already gotten rid of him once.

Classic case of determined billionaires fighting determined millionaires - the richer guy always wins if both parties have equal resolve. The billionaires just outlasted the millionaires.


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