With the NHL proposal on the table and word of real talks happening at any moment, I thought I would throw some of my solutions in the mix to help negotiators on both sides move towards some form of an agreement.Stanley Cup share
Let's start by moving backwards. When teams won the Stanley Cup back in the 1960's, they received a bonus of around $8,000 US at a time when they were making a salary of about $20,000. It was a significant financial boost for winning two playoff rounds.
Last year the Los Angeles Kings received a share of about $70,000 per player. So a player plays 82 regular season games for a $6-million salary and gets such an insignificant amount for the most important games of the year? This is one point that Don Fehr made and I think it is a no-brainer. Fans want to see more incentive for the players to deliver.
Playoff shares should be at least tripled for ALL teams, and these shares should not count against a cap.Rookie salaries
Don Fehr always talks about how baseball has it right without a cap system. They also give first-year and second-year players basically no rights as far as their salaries are concerned. It is a hard and fast figure. Make it a hard and fast figure in the NHL. No bonuses except for a signing bonus. This current system of getting "tagged" for the possibility of achieving performance bonuses on an entry-level contract has played havoc with the cap system for some NHL teams.
Be like Don Fehr's baseball: give them (basically) nothing.Second contracts
What happened here? This is a big issue at the crux of the current lockout. Gary Bettman envisioned a new world order in 2005. Hard and fast entry contracts followed by a second contract with a "moderate" increase in compensation. Then the player would become an unrestricted free agent after seven years. Then he could strike it rich.
As it has played out, Wrong! The elite players, rightly or wrongly, have been hitting their salary motherload upon signing their second contract. Bettman feels he has to plug all these extravagant possibilities this time around and try to get back to that idea of a second contract with a "moderate" increase. He has gone so far as to propose eliminating salary arbitration entirely, something that obviously doesn't sit well with the players.
The players, however, must believe that something is going to transpire to serve as a financial inhibitor on second contracts. Witness the rush to get elite entry-level players signed to a long-term second contract over the summer (Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner, Erik Karlsson).Walk away clause
Wasn't the walk-away clause instituted by the NHL to give teams a buffer to not have to live with a salary arbitration award they took issue with. Why is it so seldom used when it should be a strong tool for management? Except for Boston walking away from a salary for Dimitri Khristich years ago and more recently Chicago walking away from a Chris Campoli award, it has seldom been used.
So use it more proficiently and advantageously, or get rid of it.Restricted free agents
Same as above. Why have them if nobody is going to make an offer. How could Steven Stamkos not receive an offer sheet in 2011? The Nashville Predators felt they had no choice but to match the huge and front loaded offer to Shea Weber. They resented the feeling of a financial gun being put to their head leaving them little or no choice but to match.
Get rid of it in exchange for making unrestricted free agency earlier.Luxury tax
Again, Don Fehr thinks this works in baseball. Now that Gary Bettman has opened the door for a new deal, then everything should be on the table. A luxury tax where an NHL team has to match dollar-for-dollar whatever amount they go over the cap would benefit everyone.
The NHL team would benefit by being able to do whatever it took financially to improve. All of the dollars secured by paying a luxury tax would be distributed to the weaker financial teams that are presently complaining about their financial situation.Price of winning
Not only should players receive a larger Stanley Cup playoff share, I also like an idea that Bob Goodenow floated in 2005.
One idea he thought of was to help keep dynasty teams together. Fans love the dominant teams in any league. With all 30 teams operating with the same salary cap, the Cup champion (remember Chicago?) faces the challenge of managing his Stanley Cup champion players within the same cap figure as the last place team overall had.
The thinking is that the Stanley Cup champion be granted an extra amount (say $8 million) to cover the cap for one year. The other finalist would be granted an extra $6 million and the two Conference finalists an extra $4 million.Buyout
Allow one buyout every three years that doesn't count against the salary cap. The player still gets the amount he is owed while the team doesn't take a cap hit that has made them reluctant to buy out the likes of Scott Gomez and Wade Redden. It would also give those players a chance at another "greener" NHL destination once they are bought out.Phoenix Coyotes
Just merge them with an existing NHL team. It has happened in the past with the Cleveland Barons and the Minnesota North Stars in 1979. It will strengthen the other team in the short term. The merged team would have to be a big-market team that would have the funds to pay off some of the Phoenix bills and debts in order to secure some of their players.
Or move them...Now! But do something...Now!Canadian teams
Wishful thinking. But, after back-to-back playoffs with just two Canadian-based NHL teams participating, can we not get it legislated that a minimum of four Canadian teams MUST make the playoffs every year.
Do you think anyone is listening?
Oh, yes, one niggling detail. The split of the financial pie. The NFL and NBA went towards 50/50. I see the NHL ending up there. Some of my ideas though would enable ways for the players to add to their financial pie.
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