Member Updates – 08/17/12

The following note is being sent to the 30,688 Members of the NHL Fans’ Association.

Welcome to our 134 new Members from the United States, Canada, Slovakia, Malta and Australia.

We are witnessing, again, two groups of greedy and ungrateful spoiled brats at war. Two parties are fighting over the money we, the fans, annually dump into their laps for the luxury of watching the highest level of hockey on the planet.

The economic divide has been established between the NHL and the NHLPA in the latest round of collective bargaining. Both sides are content with maintaining a salary cap and revenue sharing system, however, the league is pushing the players to accept 43% of hockey related revenues (HRR), down significantly from the current 57% the players collectively earn each season. The players’ counter proposal calls for “delinking” the HRR from the salary cap. This alternative to the floating amount of income would see a fixed rate of growth for the players’ share over the next three seasons. In season one, the fixed increase towards the players’ financial share would increase by 2%; in year two increase by 4%; and, in year three increase by 6%. In year four, the players propose they hold an option to revert back to the full 57% against the floating or sliding increases/decreases in HRR.

Both proposals (NHL and NHLPA) contain additional, less contentious proposed terms, but let’s focus on revenue sharing and some other new ideas.

Both proposals are ridiculous. The league’s proposal goes too far, calling for a massive rollback in players’ salaries, equal to more than 24% of the players’ existing share of HRR. The players’ proposal is just as silly. It does not go far enough and is a temporary business solution that leaves owners with a cloudy financial future, and possibly nothing gained in year four and beyond. It’s no surprise that both parties’ are playing a typical bargaining game, but let’s remember this is only the pregame warm-up and a few lightweights are posturing at the red line. These are the early days in the negotiations. The third period is September 10-15 and overtime is beyond that point.

For those of us sitting squarely on the fence, I believe a reasonable solution exists.

Both parties should agree to roll back salaries, to a level that is acceptable in the professional sports sector. To be fair to both sides, the players’ share of HRR should gradually roll back to a 50-50 spilt with owners. Each year, beginning this season, the players’ share of HRR should be reduced by 1%. After six years, the 50-50 split would be achieved. The players would barely notice the financial pain and the owners would be assured of greater gains in a few short years.

For the sake of all stakeholders in the game, especially the fans, the length of the new CBA should be 10 years.

The idea floating around about allowing teams to trade cap space is a good idea. It allows those clubs close to challenging for the Cup to make a push and rewards frugal clubs, who are perennially under the cap limit, to restock in other ways. It also increases player movement, which has been steadily declining over the years.

Penalties and fines for serious on-ice infractions should be determined by a third party group comprised of a player representative, a league representative and three elected fans (paid a per diem for their services). A league official (currently Brendan Shanahan) overseeing these duties does not foster a strong partnership between the league and players.

The fans, who are the primary stakeholders in the game, need a voice in the direction of the NHL. Rule committees need fan representation. It is time for the league and players to recognize that intelligent, unbiased fans exist and can contribute nicely to the game. The battling parties need to do something significant for the fans during these negotiations. Let’s hope the greedy and ungrateful spoiled brats embattled before us come to their senses before overtime begins.

Jim Boone

The following are the June poll results:

1. Over the years of the current CBA (2005-present), players received 54-57% of hockey revenue generated by the League. Do you believe that players deserve more or less revenue? (Note, NFL players receive between 47% and 48.5% of revenues and NBA players receive between 49% and 52.5%)
Players deserve 54-57% of revenues 25%
Players deserve 50-53% of revenues 40%
Players deserve 46-49% of revenues 20%
I do not know how much revenue share the players deserve 10%
No opinion 4%

2. Under the terms of the existing CBA, a salary cap and floor fluctuate each season based on the previous season’s revenues. The cap prevents successful clubs from overspending and forces less successful teams to spend a minimum amount on players salaries. Overall, which of the following solutions do feel is best for the game?
A salary cap/floor system works best for all parties 69%
A salary cap only (no floor) works best 19%
Neither a salary cap or salary floor work well and should not be in the new CBA 7%
I don’t know which option is best for the game 5%
No opinion 1%

3. I believe the maximum length of an individual player contract should be…
Five years 44%
Six years 13%
Seven years 9%
Eight years 3%
Nine Years 1%
10 years 4%
No limit 24%
Don’t know 3%

4. Do you believe NHL players should participate in the Olympics?
Yes 75%
No 22%
Don’t know 1%
No opinion 2%

5. Do you believe it is good for the game to have a revenue sharing system in place (rich clubs share revenues with poor clubs)?
Yes 70%
No 22%
Don’t know 7%
No opinion 2%

6. Regarding a performance enhancing drug policy, do you feel the NHL and NHL Players’ Association existing policy benefits the game? (Currently, the NHL has the option to randomly test a player twice each year, with a first-time offender being suspended for 20 games, a second time offender being suspended for 60-games and players failing three drug tests expelled from the League [expelled players can apply for reinstatement after two years]).
The policy and process work well 37%
The policy works, but not enough random tests are done 35%
The policy and process are not working and a new system is required 4%
I do not have enough information to formulate an opinion 22%
Don’t know 1%

(The next four questions were also asked of Members in October 2011. The questions are posed again to see if opinions have changed.)

7. Should fighting be banned from the NHL?
Yes 12%
No 86%
Don’t know 1%
No opinion 0%

8. Do you think the NHL should take steps to reduce the number of fights in NHL games?
Yes 25%
No 72%
Don’t know 1%
No opinion 0%

9. Do you think the NHL should take steps to reduce the players designated on each team that only fight and play less than six or seven minutes a game?
Yes 38%
No 57%
Don’t know 3%
No opinion 0%

10. Do you think the NHL should explore ways of preventing a designated fighter?
Yes 43%
No 53%
Don’t know 2%
No opinion 1%

11. In an effort to reduce the speed through the neutral zone, do you think the NHL should discontinue allowing two line passes and reinstate the red line?
Yes 15%
No 80%
Don’t know 2%
No opinion 1%
Our Association needs your support. We encourage you to support the NHLFA in one or more of the following ways:

Make a donation (www.nhlfa.com/2don8.asp) to help us offset costs. [Thanks to JM, MB and BR for the donations in June]
Recruit a hockey loving friend or family member to the NHLFA (www.nhlfa.com/send.asp).
Purchase a black 100% cotton T-shirt depicting Bettman vs. Fehr (www.nhlfa.com/thestore/tshirt.asp) for $22 plus shipping. [Thanks to those who already bought shirts]
Thanks for your continuing support.