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NHL lockout settling in for the long haul

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Gary Bettman

Any color you like, as long as it’s black: Commissioner Gary Bettman has been the NHL’s point man for an “our way or the highway” strategy in the now stalemated collective bargaining talks with the NHLPA. (Mary Altaffer/AP Photos)

By Stu Hackel

Time to cue up Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and get ready for the NHL’s version of The Big Chill.

That’s what’s in store for hockey fans as the league’s most recent deadline for a new CBA came and went Thursday night and the owners swiped their latest offer to the players off the table, canceled all NHL games scheduled through the end of November, could be on the verge of also axing both the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game and, most likely, triggering a long, cold stretch in which very little or nothing will happen to end the lockout.

With the league uninterested in scheduling any talks with the NHLPA, button up your overcoats.

From Commissioner Gary Bettman’s standpoint, as long as the union declines to use the owners’ last offer as the basis of negotiations, there won’t be any. The fact that the players presented not one but three counter-offers with terms for a split of revenue that were, for the first time, somewhat similar to those proposed by the owners has not mattered. From the NHL’s perspective, the differences between the sides are far more significant than what they have in common, so the owners don’t want to negotiate.

That stance was affirmed by Bettman on Wednesday while taking questions after the announcement of the Islanders’ move to Brooklyn. “We said to them that we are prepared to meet if you want to discuss our offer, or you want to make a new offer,” Bettman remarked. “They have no inclination on doing either, so there really is no point in meeting.”

It’s safe to assume that unless the players come up with an offer that looks very much like the owners’, anything they propose will be dismissed by the league as quickly as the ones the NHLPA presented last week. That trio got all of about 15 minutes of consideration from Bettman and his fellow league negotiators.

So it’s pretty much the owners’ way or the highway and that doesn’t sound much like a recipe for cooperation — especially when, as the NHLPA’s Mathieu Schneider told TSN (video) and repeated in this interview below on the NHLPA website, “There is not one thing in this deal that the NHL has offered the players that is better than the last deal that we had.” In light of the record revenues that the owners enjoyed over the last seven years, the players are in no mood for a contract comprised exclusively of concessions.

The most critical issue dividing the sides remains how to split Hockey Related Revenue equally and, at the same time, ensure that all the current player contracts will be honored by the owners. It could be that these two elements are incompatible as long as the owners insist that the 50-50 split kick in immediately and not be gradually phased in, as the players desire. ESPN.com’s Pierre Lebrun did a good article on this issue earlier this week, although it later came to light that the NHL would agree to be flexible on the matter only if the players agreed to everything else in the owners’ offer, including givebacks on free agency, salary arbitration, entry level contracts, length of contracts and other contracting issues. That wasn’t to the players liking, so the standstill resumed.

Now each side waits for the other to buckle and it’s anyone’s guess how long that will be and which side gives way first.

There is some sentiment that the players will fold first and that the average NHL player, the rank and file guy, will be the first to break ranks. The big stars, according to this theory, are the ones who are the driving force of the NHLPA’s resistance while the lower paid and fringe guys, whose careers and finances are in greater jeopardy, are being forced to go along for the ride. Here’s one blog post that expresses this notion.

And yet, when you examine the NHL’s proposal that was just taken off the table, one that the union opposed, it’s clear that it would have been very detrimental to non-stars as well. With the Entry Level System applying only to a player’s first two years and the arbitration system not kicking in until the fifth year, no NHLer would have leverage in negotiations starting in Year 3 of a career. The expired CBA deal had the Entry Level System lasting three years with arbitration rights kicking in after Year Four. Under the now-withdrawn NHL offer, the average or fringe guys would certainly get lesser deals coming out of Entry Level than the rising stars and would have no real bargaining power at all until they hit Year Five. With the average NHL career lasting around five years, non-stars might never have a particularly good situation in their careers under that offer and the NHLPA’s opposition to it was most certainly in their interests. So the idea that the average player might abandon the PA in this fight may not really reflect how these guys actually think about the lockout and their union.

Meanwhile, the owners are losing money as well, and they have been since the preseason schedule was canceled. So the pain goes both ways. Although some believe it will be the players who ultimately surrender, there doesn’t seem to be too many cracks in their solidarity just now. How long that will last once the missed paychecks start piling up remains a big unknown. When Bettman says in the above video, “Things may get more difficult,” he’s talking about those missed paychecks and ownership’s lack of enthusiasm for a quick settlement, meaning even more missed pay ahead, as well as lesser deals the owners will offer in the future.

“What can I tell you, guys unanimously feel the same way about it and are saying they’ve offered us nothing,” Flames winger Mike Cammalleri told TSN’s Jonas Siegel this week. “It just really feels like a shakedown for the players. That’s kind of the feeling across the board…It’s disappointing that the approach for Gary and the ownership group has been to make these hard dates and final offers and not budging and on and on. There’s no real answer to why except ‘We think we can lock you out and your careers are short and we can shake you down’. Not a good feeling.”

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  • Published On Oct 26, 2012
  • 25 comments
    TomvanderVoort
    TomvanderVoort

    The 2004 lockout was over a systemic change--a salary cap. And it was a lot easier to be sympathetic to the owners. Now that the league has the cap, they just want as much money as they can squeeze out of the players. To get maximum leverage they have to cancel games so the players feel the heat (hence the comment about it getting "more difficult.") In hindsight, there was very little chance we'd get an 82-game season in light of the reason behind the lockout (we want a bigger portion of the pie.) The owners feel, with some justification, that they have a lot more leverage and can make the players crack. They lost an entire season in 2004 and business bounced back better than ever. Despite the myriad "I'll never watch another game" declarations, the owners feel that the fans will come back regardless, and it's worth a short-term loss in revenues for a long-term deal worth millions if not billions to them, Meanwhile the players, most of whom have a small window in which to cash in on their world class talents, have much more incentive to cave. That's what the league surely thinks. The best thing the players can do is to find jobs in other leagues--it's not like it's a free marketplace for their skills here in North America. It's hard not to envy the players their skills and the income that goes with them, but if any other business with record revenues tried to cut salaries because their (unspecified) costs had gone up (in a recession no less!), it wouldn't wash--and to me, it doesn't wash here. The owners are wrong, but they have more leverage, and they'll probably get most of what they want, and when we come back for a 60-game season, I'll still be watching--like almost everybody else.

    d3
    d3

    just die already NHL.  you are a completely laughing stock.  you completely alienated your diehard fans.  I was laying around last night during the storm and completely forgot the season was supposed to have started.  I was once a diehard fan.  bye bye

    JamesLittleton
    JamesLittleton

    I like the way that Sports Illustrated does not post your comment if you disagree with the author of one of the stories on this site.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @JamesLittleton If you actually read the comments, which you obviously don't, you'll see that everything gets posted, regardless of opinion, as long as they conform to the guidelines, which always appear at the bottom of the blog post. And it seems that even some that don't conform sneak through. I suggest you look more carefully.

    JamesLittleton
    JamesLittleton

     @Stu Hackel  @JamesLittleton

     Mr. Hackel, I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles first of all.  I have continuously read every article where you just bash the management of the NHL and Gary Bettman.  I cannot recall one criticism that you have leavied toward the NHLPA or Donald Fehr.  This is the same man that ruined baseball and loves to talk about how baseball has had legal peace since 94.  Unfortunately this is also the same man that cost us a World Series when he led a strike during the middle of a season.  He is also the same man that wanted to hide the fact that most of the big name players were using steroids, yet you find no fault in the man.  I made a comment that basically said that you always side with the players.  This comment did not include any vulgar language whatsoever yet it does not get put through on the thread.  I think that the fact that an author of the article appears biased is something that should be up for discussion.  I want to thank you for your though provoking articles and for taking the time to respond to someone as lowly as myself.

    JamesLittleton
    JamesLittleton

     @Stu Hackel

     Mr. Hackel, once again thank you for responding to my comment with a very detailed explanation.  I hope that you made it through the hurricane in good shape.  I am an avid sports (not just hockey) fan and have grown weary of the constant demands that the players make.  It is extremely frustrating for me that these players (many of whom make millions of dollars) constantly complain about their working conditions.  I work in a prison around inmates all day long and am in a state where we are the second lowest correctional officers in the country.  I understand that the players have extremely short careers which makes their stance even more frustrating for me.  I just do not see any compromise coming from the players in this situation.  The NHL owners watched both NBA and NFL owners receive a 50-50 split in their last negotiations and want something similar.  I think 50-50 is the sign of a true partnership and gives most owners a chance to make a decent profit in this league.  I understand the players wanting to have their contracts honored, but I understand more owners wanting to make a profit on their investment in these teams. 

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @JamesLittleton I'll have to make this quick as the Hurricane is upon us and I may lose power. FIrst, I am not as familiar with the issues in baseball during the '94 strike as I am with the current NHL lockout, but I do know that the owners were engaged in illegal activity -- collusion -- and were found guilty of it in court and that is what ended the antagonism between the owners and players in MLB at that time. If the MLBPA was objecting to the way the owners were acting at that time, it seems the courts rulings justified their objecting to play under those circumstances. So I'm not certain your characterization of Fehr as some evil force who cancelled the World Series based on his leadership of the MLBPA is correct. I don't know enough about your charge that he hid the fact that players were taking PED's; it seems to me that this was an industry problem, not just the fault of one man. You seem intent on attacking him personally, but regardless, what does any of it have to do with this NHL lockout? If you want to discuss this situation, fine, but attacking Fehr for what you think he did in '94 representing players in another sport seems quite beside the point.

     

    As for your belief that I always side with the players, if you go back and read my posts carefully, you'll see that I have not always been against the owners. I was not one of those who called their first offer a declaration of war, as some others did. In retrospect, it may have been, but I saw it as they explained it -- an attempt to negotiate based on first presenting something they would work off. But afterward I thought what the players presented as an alternative was a better framework for the NHL's problems. I've also written where I could see the owners perspective on the players slowing this process down, although subsequently, the owners did as well, and in fact, became the more delinquent party.

     

    Further, I've criticized Fehr for not giving adequate explanations of things in his press briefings (specifically HRR) and the NHLPA for not making sure they had a lawyer on a media conference call with players who were speaking about the legal challenges to the lockout in Quebec. 

     

    I even recognized why the owners might want to lock out the players rather than accept the NHLPA offer to negotiate while the season went on, because they worried that if the negotiations didn't go well, the players might strike in midseason and they said they didn't want that to happen. Now subsequent events make me believe that the owners may not have wanted to negotiate at all unless the outcome would be entirely favorable to them -- and that's not how negotiations should be conducted. I don't see where there has been anything in what the owners have offered the players that would make them want to agree to a deal and all they are offering them is worse than what they had before.

     

    That's not a recipe for a fair settlement and that's what I believe is needed so we don't have to go through this every time a CBA expires. I want the sides to settle and the game to go forward, but we're not there yet and I think the way the owners have conducted themselves has more to do with that than the conduct of the players.

     

    Now if you want to interpret that as my always blindly siding with the players, go ahead, but it's not supported by what I have written.

     

    Ultratri1
    Ultratri1

    After looking at the old CBA and the new offer, I sill find the common problem as bettman or the owners if he is being misleading as to their real desires. Several new contracts were signed right before the lockout....and it looks like those were pretty phony along with any input from anything bettman has provided. You see.....given the real market value of hockey at the end of the day in the NHL, the real players we all pay good money to follow will play somewhere else.....and American-born players good enough to be stars will find a way to do the same. You see what the owners, and certainly not bettman, haven't figured out is that these players want play hockey...if it's not going to be in the NHL then it will be some place else. You see the WHA was becoming successful in pulling in promising players and the players now will look for a place to play as well. Do you really think it bothers Ovie that he is playing in the KHL...no....and hockey fans will find a way to watch games there because they will provide access or we will get used to watching a slightly lower level of play. The owners, if they want to make it a pure business decision then I say do it...and get out of the game if you don't make money but don't pretend to do both and put a pathetic pretender like bettman in a position to make fools out of the people who pay for the product. You don't care who the owner is...we care about the players at the end of the day.

    Garywood36
    Garywood36

     

    Bettman and the rest of em are greedy, they are financially set because of the fans and because of the players who have very few years to bank what they can during their short career, its hard on the players and the it is the players that make HOCKEY the sport that it is, pay the players, shut up and lets play some HOCKEY!!!

    Matthew Peake
    Matthew Peake like.author.displayName 1 Like

    Wow.  Very sad.  In an economy that is struggling worldwide, the NHL gives a press release TOUTING their unprecedented growth because people are spending their money to watch the PLAYERS, and yet Bettman and the owners are hardlining this like they're in some kind of trouble?  Greed is the downfall of all good things, and hockey appears to be on that list....

    me1
    me1

    The question isn't whether this season is lost, it is whether there will be hockey NEXT year.

    BillT
    BillT

    The problem in the NHL at the current time and for the last decade has been Bettman and until the NHL owners eyes are opened to see the harm that he is doing all involved in the NHL, the owners, the players, the team employees, the concessions at the games, the suppliers of uniforms, skates, sticks, etc,  and everyone else whose income is obtained from working in the various NHL cities are all going to suffer. The cities where these NHL teams are will feel a decline in revenues as there are so many residents in those cities whose income is there because of the NHL and their home team.  The people that depend on this income to support their families are really going to feel a strain in their daily lives.

     

    Lastly and the most important are the fans who collectively spend $3 BILLION to attend the games and support their home team and players. 

     

    The NHL owners are like the prized bulls that are sold at the livestock auction and Bettman is leading them with a leash fastened to a lead that is in their noses. if Bettman pulls on the rope the livestock have to follow as Bettman wants or they will be in pain

     

    There are a lot of US based NHL teams that are treading on very thin ice, probably by now they are shoulder deep and they cannot be losing fans that they have acquired in recent years. With the second lockout in 7 years I feel that a lot of the new US hockey fans will get fed up and no longer support their teams.

     

    BETTMAN HAS TO GO !!!!!!!!!! 

    SptsfantillIdie
    SptsfantillIdie like.author.displayName 1 Like

     @BillT Well, you seem totally convinced that Bettman tells the operators what to do and not the other way around.  I assume you also realize the Donald Fehr has been involved in the negotiations of 8 contracts, and six of those contracts have included work stoppages.  It might be better if the fat cats on BOTH sides hired some people with the interest of the sport somewhere near the table.

    Dustin Madlung
    Dustin Madlung

    If i was the players, I wouldn't budge anymore.  Basically the owners would be redoing all the contracts they have signed by having rollbacks on the contract that they agreed to would be unacceptable to me if I was an employee.

     

    I know the owner took a hit this year, but a lot of these contracts that I keep hearing about are front loaded so the players salary hit per year isn't bad, but sooner or later would these not help the owners make money say five years down the road when the owners are paying a minimal amount for the same players?  I know the owners will have to sign new players, but at some point they won't be able to sign these huge contracts because the salary hit is through the life of the contract, or am I wrong?

     

    Actually I am watching another KHL game right now on ESPN 3 replay.  In my opinion the level of hockey there is not much lower than the NHL if you take the all stars out of the equation, just something though about knowing the game you are watching is a replay and not live?

    SptsfantillIdie
    SptsfantillIdie

     @Dustin Madlung Please note, the KHL total team salary is about the equivalent of $20 million US dollars.  The cap in the NHL is (was) about $64 million with the lowest amount paid being $46 million.  I guess the players will be much better off not playing in the NHL. I also don't know about you, but I didn't attend many NHL games and I certainly cannot (or will not) afford to make a trip to see anything live in the KHL.

    emmartin
    emmartin like.author.displayName 1 Like

    As sports become more and more big business, it's becoming clear that the owners aren't fans of their teams, they're just businessmen trying to maximize profits.  And, quite frankly, as a fan it's getting tougher and tougher for me to root for something that isn't a team, but is instead a product.  I love hockey.  I don't need to love the NHL.

    John9
    John9 like.author.displayName 1 Like

    This "player contracts...honored by the owners" concept that the PA is promoting remains a complete fallacy.  When are you going to start challenging this ridiculous notion instead of promoting it, as if it has some basis in reality?  The players agreed to receive a portion of a pool, with the contract value representing a portion of that pool.  But now if the owners do so it's not "honoring" their contracts?  Call a spade a spade - that is disinformation.

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @John9 I'm sorry, but you are quite incorrect. When Alex Ovechkin signed his contract, it called for $9,538,462 a season, not some percentage of a pool. The players as a whole receive a percentage of the pool, but the individual contracts are for specific dollar amounts. The disinformation is by you.

    marc.naturephotog
    marc.naturephotog like.author.displayName 1 Like

     @Stu Hackel  @John9    Stu,  with respect, I think you are missing or ignoring John9's (implicit)  point:  Yes, obviously each player has an independent contract for for specified compensation,  but those contracts are ultimately subject to the vagaries of the collective bargaining process. In the NHL, since  the cap came in,  this means that their pay is indeed part of a pool of finite funds  that they know full well  may be lowered when a CBA expires during the term of their deals.  The players outrage over being asked by owners to take a hit on existing contracts rings hollow; they want all the benefits and power of being represented by a single bargaining unit but none of the downside. They want  their individual contracts to enjoy the protection afforded to non-unionized employees while still  wielding the power of a Union.

     

    More troubling to me in your coverage of the lockout is the continued portrayal of the players as having been victimized in the prior deal only to now be asked for further concessions.  I find this not only unbalanced from a journalistic perspective, but also  a bit disingenuous because it completely ignores the massive (and unanticipated) gains they made under the last CBA that pushed salaries beyond their wildest dreams in 2004.  Now, when asked to roll back  salraries to create a  50% of HRR, they say  'sure, just don't take that money from the contract I signed earlier', which of course delays the 50/50 from being effective for years to come. This is at least as  intellectually dishonest than the owner's "make whole" provision (as presently worded, anyway).

     

      It's hard for me to find a sympathetic party to the dispute, but listening to Donald Fehr  complain that his "three counterproposals" ( two of which were outlines in  which he concedes he had not  even ran the numbers and the third not even reduced to writing yet)  were given short shrift, and the continued victim act that has been bought by too many of the media,  has pushed me to management's side on this. 

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @marc.naturephotog  "Unbalanced," "disingenuous," "intellectually dishonest," -- man, I'm sure glad you "respect" me. I love the way I'm attacked personally because I have a difference of opinion with readers. I won't even go into the fact that they do so under the cloak of anonymity. Quite brave, I must say.

     

    Yes, of course, individual contracts are subject to the CBA; no one is disputing that. The disagreement I had with John and I have with you is the contention that because the owners don't want to pay the players what they agreed to pay them, it's OK because the CBA allows for that through escrow. And what I'm saying -- which I assure you is not intellectually dishonest -- is that 1) the CBA has expired and the players individual contracts are no longer subject to that any more; 2) Escrow is not the essential issue the players are objecting to in this part of the disagreement. Even if the next CBA allows for escrow, that is not the same thing as the specific and permanent reduction in pay based on the actual dollar amount of the contract each player signs -- if you get $5 mil a season, you might lose a certain amount based on the HRR of that season that has been withheld in escrow, or you might get it all back, but what the players want is not to have that $5 mil of that individual player subject to a 24 percent (or 12 percent or whatever the owners offers are or have been or will be) reduction in addition to escrow. So for John to say what he did confuses or blurs the distinction between these two things for the purpose of making his point.

     

    As for your point that I'm somehow overlooking the fact that the players did well financially under the last CBA, I urge you to read what I have written from the outset about this negotiation. I have, in fact, said those exact words. That cannot be argued. I think, however, the players believe (or the union has demonstrated to them) that there are additional aspects of the last CBA that they found troublesome, and they include the fact that they lost the ability to be paid under a free market system and the 24 percent pay cut they took at the outset of the CBA last time off their existing contracts. They don't seem fond of the escrow system either. So they have additional concerns apart from how much they've been paid. And, I think it's safe to say, they were paid well because the business flourished under the last CBA and the owners did very very well also, at least as a whole. The players feel they should not have to bear the brunt of all the issues caused by the problem franchises and that the owners -- who (as I've written in other posts) bear a good deal of responsibility for the existence of those problems in those franchises -- should not impose all the burdens for bailing out those franchises on the players.  

     

    So I don't see why my writing about the fact that the players don't like the old CBA, even though they ended up being well paid under it, is unbalanced, There is more to this deal than the dollar figures. The owners don't seem to think so because that part of it consumes them almost exclusively. But the players are also concerned about contracting rights like free agency and salary arbitration and the entry level system, and I tend to agree with them on that, meaning I agree they are of equal importance to the "core economics," that obsesses the owners. It was a very complicated agreement and resolving the issues in it going forward are not all going to be solved by the sides merely agreeing on the division of HRR.

     

    Look, you can side with the owners if you want, I don't care and I do think they have valid concerns, as I've written before. But I also think that they've done well, that the business has done well in the past seven years, and that no one stands to gain by the lockout. This could have been settled by now, but it's not and everyone is going to suffer as a consequence.

    ShashikaStanislaus
    ShashikaStanislaus

    Hey Stu, I'm still not entirely clear on this point. So, each player signs a contract for a dollar amount, but the aggregate of all player contracts must be within the prescribed CBA percentage. So (using terms from the last CBA), if the aggregate player pay is above 57% of HRR, are all contracts deducted some percentage to reach this standard? What happens if the aggregate player pay is below 57%? Do they all get bonus checks? Thanks for all the informative articles thus far!

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @JDCanuck I have to strongly disagree, JD. There is no intellectual dishonesty here. You misunderstand or misinterpret what the players are asking for.

     

    First of all, you are talking about the old CBA, and you are correct, under that CBA was the mechanism to withhold money in escrow. Yes, the players agreed to that. However, that CBA is now expired and what  is being negotiated is a new CBA, so that mechanism is no longer in place and the players want different things this time -- as do the owners. We don't know yet if there will be escrow provisions in the new one. But regardless, the players are saying under the new one, they want the full value of their existing contracts they signed to be honored.

     

    That is certainly their right. If the owners want to demand a new split in revenue, which they are certainly entitled to ask for in a negotiation, why aren't the players entitled to ask that contracts be honored in full?

     

    Secondly, there may or may not be escrow involved in the new CBA, but agreeing to that is not the same thing as what the owners are talking about which is cutting all existing salaries 12 percent. That's not escrow. That's a salary reduction and escrow would be on top of that. Under the escrow, the players -- if they agree to include escrow in the new CBA -- potentially either get their money back or not, depending on that year's HRR, but if your existing salary is cut 12 percent, that's 12 percent you don't get back under any circumstances. And that's what the players are talking about. They took a 24 percent salary reduction in the last CBA and escrow was in addition to that, but this time, they don't want to forfeit 12 percent of those salaries on their existing deals, which is what the owners are demanding.

     

    The problem is that the math doesn't work to have both these things and neither side has developed a way yet to have both to each others' satisfaction. That's a part of the impasse. Yes, the owners most recent proposal called for a 50-50 split AND for the contracts to be honored in full, but when the players looked over how the owners planned to honor the contracts, they felt it was less than advertised. So the players proposed three ways to have both a 50-50 split and keep the contracts whole and the owners -- correctly, I think -- did the math and recognized that the way the players did it would mean they'd have to pay the players more than 50-50 at the beginning of the contract, and they want to have 50-50 from the beginning. (Personally, with the business doing well, I don't see why they feel the urgency for 50-50 immediately if they can get there in a few years, make a deal and save this season, but that's just me.)

     

    But you are confusing escrow and a salary reduction here. They are two different things. And what the players agreed to accept last time are not things they are willing to go along with this time.

    JDCanuck
    JDCanuck

    Stu, under the terms of the current expired CBA, if there is a decline in revenue, a player may not receive the full face value of their contract.  That does not mean the owners did not "honour" the contract.  The players knew when they signed their contracts, that that they were subject to the terms of the new CBA, which would include holding back a portion of their contracts in escrow.  If any player did not think that the owners were going to look for a change in revenue split, they were either naive or poorly informed by the NHLPA.  The concept that the owners do not want to "honour" the current contracts makes for good media noise, but is, in fact, intelectually dishonest.

     

    If the sides agree on a 50/50 split and they miraculously doubled HRR, every player would get paid in full.  If the NHL caved, they stayed at 57/43 and HRR declined by 50%, no player would receive close to the face value of their contracts.  In either scenario the contracts would be "honoured"

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @ShashikaStanislaus Generally speaking, during the season, if a team went over 57 percent, they had to move a contract (or multiple contracts) in order to get under the cap or they would be subject to a fine. That was the only prescribed method for complying with the system. If a team was under the cap, they had cap space and teams wanted to have cap space if, for example, they had a chance to acquire a player at the deadline. Lots of times, you'd see trades in which players were moved just so a team could stay under the cap or get under the cap. It was a "hard cap" system and there was no going over it.

     

    During the offseason, however, the NHL allowed teams to go over the cap but they still had to get under by opening night.

     

    Hope that helps. Thanks for the question.

    BrianSpiegel
    BrianSpiegel

    I love hockey. It has been my favorite sport my entire life. Unfortunately, I'm getting the feelings that the owners don't really care too much about hockey anymore otherwise they wouldn't be killing the sport by doing this. Yes, the players have to bend a bit, but it seems like they have been willing to bend on everything except for the contracts, which, to be honest, they shouldn't. The owners offered these ridiculous contacts and now to say that they simply aren't going to honor them is crazy. The nerve of them to do that. So while I'm sad that there is no hockey I'm literally to the point where I just have stopped caring. Sure, I will come back when the strike is over (my team just won the Cup, after all), but I can no longer shed tears over a situation that isn't going to get fixed. When you watch the sport that you love get killed, there is a point where you just have to turn away because it hurts too much to watch.