As the NHL and the NHLPA begin what will undoubtedly be a summer-long (at the very least), process of negotiating the next CBA, speculation about what the new deal will look like is already rampant. How will the league navigate record profits and financially-troubled clubs? Will we see a revenue sharing agreement like other North American leagues have undertaken? Will the salary cap be lowered? Will there be changes to the cap floor? Will the giant, long-term contracts which have become so common in the post-lockout NHL be gone?
The CBC's Elliotte Friedman recently wrote a summary of the NHL's CBA issues. While many topics were discussed, Friedman highlighted several issues which might hinder the actual bargaining process:
Other questions as things get started:
- Will anyone be making an opening proposal?
- How much common ground exists?
- What are each side's non-starters?
- Do Fehr and Bettman stick to their histories as last-minute negotiators, decreasing the importance of these early July discussions?
- Will the owners try to split the union by offering an increased minimum salary and the promise of more jobs through expansion? (It's actually a decent strategy.)
- Will either side refuse to discuss any of the lesser issues until the major ones (e.g. what percentage of revenues the players get) are settled?
I'm not a contract lawyer nor am I an expert in collective bargaining. My interest in this process is simply from a fan's perspective. Whatever the outcome (and especially if there is another work stoppage) the new CBA will affect fans' experience of the game.
The CBA also presents an opportunity to improve some of the league's more glaring problems. While I think many things should be tweaked, the change I would most like to see would be to have a player's annual salary equal his cap hit for each season. This would eliminate the appetite for longer deals with bonus years to bring a player's annual cap hit down and solve one of the most troublesome problems of the current CBA.
What do you want to see changed? How would you improve on the current agreement?