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One day after getting publicly embarrassed by a Deadspin piece, the NHL is trying to get back to even footing in the PR War
[Ed Note: You can follow the Story Stream here for all of the updates on what precisely is happening]
Here's the very-quick rundown of what the NHL offered to the NHLPA today:
- 50/50 split of Hockey Related Revenues
- 5-year contract length
- Increasing entry-level contracts from 3 years to 4
- Increasing the age at which a player can become an unrestricted free agent from 27 to 28
- Players retain arbitration rights
- 82-game schedule
Here's why the players are not going to take this deal:
- Hockey Related Revenue deducts direct costs from gross revenues to create a net of what the players get. This is not comparable to the percentage of revenue players get in the NBA or the NFL, as neither of those leagues deduct direct costs from their revenue counts. The NHLPA argues that when the revenue definitions become comparable, they're already only getting about 51% of the gross. This would cut the NHLPA's cut to a roughly 45% or less cut of what other sports' players get.
- Increasing the time a player has to serve his severely cost-controlled entry-level deal and then expanding how long before he can truly become a worldwide free agent is not what's best for the game or the competition for North American hockey. Making it even less-lucrative for a young European star to come over may be what's best for North-American-based business in certain areas, but it's not a good system for making sure that the absolute best players in the world are in your league.
- The concept of this make-it-or-break-it deal where if the players TRULY cared about playing an 82-game season (Like Bill Daly implied today is the NHL's focus) coming only one day after the league got pantsed by the Deadspin article exposing their dealings with the Luntz Global Group makes this "best we can do" offer look like little more than an attempt to regain some traction in the PR War by hoping that hockey fans see the 50/50 and the 82-game numbers and don't bother reading that the NHL's 50/50 is not really a 50/50.
- While no details have been released, the idea that the players will have to take a cut in their overall share without having to simply pay money back and take a back-ended salary rollback doesn't seem feasible. [Update: ESPN's Pierre LeBrun tweets that part of the league's transition would allow teams to spend to a $70M cap this season. This doesn't solve the back-end escrow issue if players' contracted salaries exceed the players' share, which could be about $230M lower]
Listen, I want hockey. I DO want an 82-game season and full playoffs and I'm mad that the players also haven't done more to make this a reality. However, if I'm negotiating on the side of the players, it's not hard to see where this offer isn't very close to a compromise for the league. As a fan, I feel a bit insulted that the NHL's trumpeting of the huge steps they're taking to meet the players in the middle is louder than the actual steps appear to be.