5 questions answered on the NHL lockout

In the latest edition of our five questions series on the NHL lockout, we tackle the issues of financially troubled franchises, minor-league contracts, and whether coaches still get paid during a work stoppage.
Do John Tortorella and other head coaches still get paycheques during the lockout? (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

We here at CBCSports.ca want to help guide you through the NHL lockout, and we want you to get involved. In the latest edition of our five questions series, we tackle the issues of financially troubled franchises, revenue sharing, and whether coaches still get paid during a work stoppage.

Want a question answered? Post it in the comments section below and we'll do our best to get you an accurate response.

1. How many teams are not financially stable?

A great question that's tough to answer. For the most part, NHL teams keep their books secret, but it’s obvious that teams like the Leafs, Rangers and Canadiens all have money to burn. Though that isn’t always reflected in the quality of their lineups, their fans seem to scoop up every piece of merchandise with a team logo on it, and line up to get tickets.

It’s also obvious that teams like the Coyotes, Islanders and Blue Jackets are having a tough time. You might want to throw the Panthers and the Predators into that list as well. Forbes magazine estimates that each of those teams saw a decrease in operating revenue last year. 

2. If an NHL player like, say, Jordan Eberle is sent to the minors during the lockout, and the lockout lasts the whole season, does that year count against his contract? And what happens if there’s a half season? Does that count as a full year for contract purposes?

Players who are sent down to the AHL are on entry-level or two-way contracts. If Eberle, who has already played two years in the NHL, spends a season in the AHL, his three-year entry-level contract "slides," meaning he still has one more year remaining on his existing deal. In other words, the year doesn’t count toward his contract.

As for the second part of your question, let’s take as an example a player who is on a one-year contract for this season. If the lockout ends in December and the season resumes, the player will have completed his one-year commitment at the end of the season. The contract would be adjusted depending on how many games are in the season.

3. The players have seemed open to slowing salary growth as long as there’s also revenue growth. But the players already have their contracts. What is this extra revenue they’re talking about? Or are they actually proposing cutting players’ existing contracts?

Elliotte Friedman wrote extensively about hockey-related revenue. Extra revenue can come in many forms, such as rent from luxury boxes, concession stands or parking. These calculations are difficult and lead to disagreements between the players and the owners. We don’t know what the final agreement will look like, but the latest proposal would mean a reduction in players’ salaries.

4. I have a friend who was dreaming of moving up to the AHL from the ECHL. Now that some NHL players are being sent to the AHL, he figures that idea is toast. Is that fair?

Hard to say if it’s fair, but you do refer to an interesting situation. Players who are on NHL entry-level contracts and guys who are on two-way contracts have been sent to the AHL. That means it’s going to be a lot tougher for a marginal player to make an AHL team. That in turn means guys who are playing in the ECHL may find it harder to get a spot. It’s tough on the players, but it may make for better hockey for the fans.

5. Are coaches still getting paid?

Coaches are not part of the NHLPA, so in theory they still get paid. However, some of them may have those contracts ripped up. If you’re a goalie coach, a trainer or a skating coach, you may find yourself out of work. As an example, Barb Underhill, the skating coach for the Leafs, is not working for them now. Those positions rely on contact with the players, and under the current situation there is no contact between players and teams, which means no work. But head coaches are still getting paid.