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October 19, 2012
Below is an Open Letter to both the NHL and NHLPA. I am telling each party in simple uncomplicated and straight foreword terms what my thoughts, feelings and opinions are of them both. I also include what I think could be a starting point for honest negotiations to bring a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and get the players back on the ice and hockey back in the rinks and on the television.
I have been a Hockey fan since I can remember. I was on skates as a small child at the age of 3 or so, right around the time that the Toronto Maple Leafs won their last Stanley Cup in 1967.
So you know I have witnessed the greed associated with the game and observed both sides at their worst. There was the greed of the owners who had a monopoly on players rights and no allowing them to play elsewhere even after being released from their current club. This forced many to join the former WHA back in its infancy.
I have seen the rise of player’s rights through the NHLPA, and also witnessed greed and corruption from within it.
I have seen the league counter with a very smart and slippery man become commissioner. The same man that lead the NHL to 3 major labour disputes involving the players which stopped the game completely. The one prior to this current stoppage actually cost the owners, players, and most of all the fans, to lose and entire season of NHL action.
Hockey is a big business and like most big business’ everything revolves around makes as much money for the owners, shareholders and executives as possible - the maximum the market will allow, yet keeping prices manageable as not to scare the fans away.
The Labour side of it sees the large contribution they put towards the huge revenues brought in by the clubs and want their share of it too. Completely understandable, yet sometimes their demands appears unrealistic to the ordinary fan of the game. You know… the ones that buy the tickets, purchase the licensed merchandise, those who watch the games on television week after week, and the ones the sponsors pay to advertise too. Yes, the “actual” revenue sources for the league and players.
Under current negotiations, which should have started a year ago, neither side seems to be serious about making sensible offers to the other. The PA wants as much as it can get and to give back as little as possible of what they currently have - understandable, but unrealistic to a point. The NHL wants to make huge cuts to the players share and take back some of the gains the PA received last time around. You need to give and take it is certainly not take take.
So both sides need to make considerable changes to their demands. Both sides need to make considerable changes to what time frame it will take for these demands to come into effect.
So at this particular time I am going to put forth a proposal, in terms everyone can understand, yet not in the detail that it would take a Harvard scholar to comprehend. Because I am far from a Harvard Scholar!
The Armstrong Proposal
— Eight-year Agreement with a mutual option for a ninth and tenth year if agreed to at least one (1) year in advance of the 8th year.
Future CBA Negotioations
— the Players’ and Owners’ agree to begin negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement at least one (1) year (12 calendar months) prior to this end of this agreement.
— Current HRR Accounting subject to mutual clarification of existing interpretations and settlements.
Applicable Players’ Share:
— For each of the eight (8) years of the CBA (and any additional year options) the Players’ Share shall be reduced to Fifty (50) percent of Actual HRR as follows:
2012-2013 Players’ Share shall be reduced from 57 percent to 54.5 percent of Actual HRR.
2013-2014 Players’ Share shall be reduced from 54.5 percent to 52.5 percent of Actual HRR.
2014-forward Players’ Share shall be reduced from 52.5 percent to 50 percent of Actual HRR.
— Entry Level System commitment will be limited to two (2) years (covering two full seasons) for all Players who sign their first SPC between the ages of 18 and 24 (i.e., where the first year of the SPC only covers a partial season, SPC must be for three (3) years).
— Salary Arbitration System will remain as it is under current CBA.
— Unrestricted Free Agency eligibility for Players who are Twenty Eight (28) year old who have Five (5) Accrued Seasons, or who have Eight (8) Accrued Seasons.
— Maximum contract length of seven (7) years. No contracts can be signed with player over the age of Forty (40) years of age that are longer than three (3) years in length. No contracts can be signed with a player under the age of Forty (40) years of age that would put the contract length more than three years past his Forth-Third (43rd) Birthday.
— NHL commits to Revenue Sharing Pool as follows:
2012-13 Season: $220.2 million (based on assumption of $3.303 Billion in actual HRR). Amount will be adjusted upward or downward in proportion to Actual HRR results for 2012/13. In other words (1/15th of Actual HRR revenue)
2013-14 Season: 1/14th of Actual HRR revenue
2014-15 Season: 1/13th of Actual HRR revenue
2015-16 Season: 1/12th of Actual HRR revenue
2016-17 Season: 1/11th of Actual HRR revenue
2017-forward 1/10th of Actual HRR revenue
— At least one-half of the total Revenue Sharing Pool (50%) will be raised from the Top 10 Revenue Grossing Clubs in a manner to be determined by the NHL.
Supplemental and Commissioner Discipline:
— Introduction of additional procedural safeguards, including ultimate appeal right to a “neutral” third-party arbitrator with a “clearly erroneous” standard of review.
Players’ Share “Make Whole” Provision:
— The League proposes to make Players “whole” for the reduction in Players’ Share dollars (when compared to 2011/12) that is attributable to the economic terms of the new CBA (the “Share Reduction”).
Any “shortfalls” in the first 3 Years of the new CBA will be computed as a percentage reduction off the Player’s stated contractual compensation, and will be repaid to the Player as a Deferred Compensation benefit spread over the remaining future years of the Player’s SPC (or if he has no remaining years, in the year following the expiration of his SPC). Player reimbursement for the Share Reduction will be accrued and paid for by the League, and will be chargeable against Players’ Share and Owners’ share, as the percentage as indicated in this Applicable Players’ Share Agreement, amounts in future years as Preliminary Benefits. The objective would be to honor all existing SPCs by restoring their “value” on the basis of the now existing level of Players’ and Owners’ Share dollars.
Key Features of this Contract Proposal
An Eight (8) year term with option for 9th and 10th year if mutually agreed upon one (1) year in advance of the end of the 8th year.
Reduction of Players’ percentage of HRR to be reduced to Fifty (50) percent over first three (3) years of the CBA.
Unrestricted Free agency after Eight (8) years of Accrued Season or age Twenty Eight (28) with Five (5) years of Accrued Season.
Salary Arbitration to remains the same as in current CBA.
Entry Level contracts to be reduced to two (2) years from three (3) years.
Make Whole Provision cost to be shared by Players’ and Owners’ share of HRR and indicated in that years’ Applicable Players’ Share Agreement
I understand this is by no means a complete proposal nor does it detail the numbers as both sides have in their proposals. But from a Fans’ perspective and someone that understand contractual obligations, I believe this could be a serious starting point for a new agreement if both sides are serious about actually reaching an agreement.
Of course, a provision I would like to add to the contract, is the Gary Bettman is replace as NHL Commissioner!
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