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Op-Ed: NHLPA should stick to bargaining in good faith, not fixing league

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 10, 2012 in Sports
It appears the NHLPA is insisting upon dropping proposals onto the table that tell the league how to solve the issue of teams losing money. Given the way things are going - no CBA, no hockey - it seems a pointless distraction.
This is a union that has members making $9.5 million for a total of 65 points (Alexander Ovechkin's salary and points total last season) and even $12 million yearly (Sidney Crosby will make that tidy sum as of next season for three seasons) and they're telling the owners how to order their house. It seems self-serving.
Maybe if they stuck with salary demands, length of contract, free agency, hockey related revenue (HRR) the process would move forward instead of stalling, as this latest, crucial round of talks seems to have done. I get the point that, despite an average salary around $2.5 million a year, the players are feeling hard done by in all this. I get they don't want to see salary rollbacks, not even for the health of the league. I just think they're short-sighted and flat-out wrong, especially when one considers that most NHL teams are losing money.
18 NHL franchises lost money in 2011-12
So you don't believe that most teams are losing money? Kurt Badenhausen from Forbes wrote a piece in September just before the lockout that says otherwise, and Badenhausen is known for producing well-researched and accurate stories. "We estimated that 18 teams lost money during the 2010-11 season in our annual look at the business of hockey," he wrote. "Several other teams barely eked out a profit."
He added that Forbes found but five teams were making money, the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. Those teams combined had large profits, especially the Rangers, Leafs and Canadiens, that totaled $212 million, with "the remaining 25 teams posting a (combined) loss of $86 million."
NHL clubs losing money due to salaries
You don't have a viable league when a majority of the franchises are losing money and were it to continue it will threaten the survival of the NHL. The biggest expense NHL teams have are salaries (also responsible for fans paying exorbitant amounts for tickets) so it stands to reason salaries are the biggest reason clubs lose money. Logically, they are also going to be the first place that teams look when seeking to turn it all around.
Many fans blame owners for their own poor management of money and think all owners have to do to solve their problems is to simply offer free-agents less. But it doesn't work. After all, owners are competitive, too, and they're trying to ice a winning team and if rules allow them to offer more money to sign a player, they'll do it. Donald Fehr and the NHLPA know that to gain that competitive edge owners will continue pushing contracts to the stratosphere and, while it seems greedy, especially in light of so many teams losing money, players want that scenario to continue.
NHLPA: Salary rollback inevitable
It turns out a salary cap alone hasn't been able to solve these issues and this CBA Gary Bettman and the owners are determined to give every team a legitimate chance at profit while keeping the league competitive. That being the case, the NHLPA is not going to win these negotiations by continually trying to convince the NHL to accept their self-serving ideas on how to transfer money around the franchises to help them all achieve a profit. Would you want your employees, who you were making rich beyond most people's wildest dreams, telling you how to run your business? It's likely few would.
The players should start to truly bargain in good faith and it's likely they'll have to accept around $2.2 million a season per player. If they want the Alex Ovechkins and Sidney Crosbys to make up to $12 million while a grinder who takes the same chances at injury plays for only $525,000, so be it. But the bottom line is that the average salary has to come down.
If they don't accept that, none of them will be earning any salary whatever.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about NHL, NHLPA, labor negotiations, nhl cba talks, Sidney crosby
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