As the NHL lockout turns, new issues become the primary point of contention. With CBA talks at another impasse, there seem to be three big problems from the league’s side.
“[Owners] went back to the players and said ‘We’ll stay and we’ll reengage if you agree to the three things that we say are important to us, which is the term of the CBA, term limits on player contracts, which is the hill we will die on, and the compliance issues,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters in New York City.
Limiting player contract lengths to five years (or seven for teams to sign their own guys) is now “the hill we will die on” for owners. Players, meanwhile, proposed an eight-year limit. The current collective bargaining agreement does not have a limit on contracts.
“We moved very substantially in the owners direction on things like contract length, variability and term of agreement,” NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr said.
Asked why five years was such a sticking point for the NHL, Daly called it the owners’ prerogative.
“That was what the owners determined they wanted in return for walking away from the other player contracting issues, all of which they continued to think was important. Whether it’s five years or six years or four years, it was part of the package deal [proposed this week],” Daly said. “So to cherry-pick that item and try to negotiate it from 10 to 8, which is where they are now, it wasn’t the structure or framework on what we offered was offered.”
Five contracts of six or more years were signed between Aug. 22 and the start of the lockout on Sept. 15, according to CapGeek. One of those deals was defenseman John Carlson’s with the Capitals, six year for $23.8 million.
That’s a pattern that the owners are trying to reverse.
“Let’s look at the following statistic: contracts six years or longer in 2004: One. Currently: 90,” commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The trend has gone completely in the wrong way, and that has a whole host of consequences to the game and to the operation of our clubs.”