A muted union victory in the NHL lockout deal

As the embarrassing three-month NHL lockout prepares to end, opening the door to an abbreviated season, it appears that both sides will be able to walk away relatively happy.

As Nicholas Goss of Bleacher Report writes:

The players were expected to lose these negotiations, and they did, but at least the CBA reached on Sunday is much more favorable than the deal that the players’ union signed in 2005.

And as Travis Waldron from Thinkprogress writes:

Players largely acceded to ownership’s demands, but given the absurdity of the NHL’s previous offers, the NHLPA managed to mitigate at least some of the damage.

Goss’ article also includes a great breakdown on the details on the emerging deal to end the NHL lockout. A few big takeaways:

Owners’ Wins in NHL Lockout

Share of hockey related revenue: The driving force behind the lockout, the owners wanted players to take an overall pay cut. The players’ share of Hockey Related Revenue will fall from 57 percent to 50. The owners’ original proposal would have pegged the players’ share at 43 percent. While both sides met exactly in the middle, this represents a big win for league owners on their biggest issue.

Length of agreement: The deal will last for ten years, as opposed to the players’ preferred length of seven. That being said, it was considered to be in the interest of all parties to postpone the next potential lockout for as long as possible – the current lockout was the league’s third in twenty years.

Contract term limits: League owners wanted player contracts to be limited to five years. In negotiations, the players were able to bring that number up to seven.

Players’ Wins in NHL Lockout

Revenue sharing: The players’ union wanted $250 million in revenue sharing; owners agreed to $200 million. Owners of large-market teams were reluctant to agree to any revenue sharing at all, as this will redistribute wealth from larger teams to smaller teams and make the league more competitive. Revenue sharing is a policy borrowed from the NBA and NFL, which have used revenue sharing as a way to increase parity around their respective leagues.

Salary variance in multi-year contracts: The deal limits the amount salaries can change from year to year in a single contract. This will prevent general managers from front-loading long-term contracts with very small salaries in the final years.

Pensions: In what is considered a big improvement over the previous collective bargaining agreement and a big win for the union, the deal includes a stronger player pension fund modeled after the one used in Major League Baseball. A crucial component for players, owners will be responsible for making up some of the gap if there is an overall revenue shortfall.

An Interesting Footer

Draft lottery: Rather than the worst team getting the first pick, there will be an NBA-style draft lottery among all teams that fail to make the playoffs to determine draft order. While this will prevent bad teams from tanking late in the season to ensure themselves a high pick, it could lead to a scenario akin to the NBA Draft in 1993, where the 41-41 Orlando Magic were awarded the first pick in that year’s draft despite having a better record than ten other teams.

There’s enough in this deal for both sides to declare victory in the NHL lockout. While the players are taking a sizeable pay cut, in doing so they were able to make progress in bringing the NHL in line with the other “Big Four” leagues with regards to player benefits and team parity. And, most importantly, there will be hockey in 2013 and for years to come.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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7 Responses to “A muted union victory in the NHL lockout deal”

  1. CSStrowbridge says:

    I think the players did okay here. The length of contracts being limited to seven years is fine. It was a boneheaded oversight that it wasn’t in the previous CBA. The loss of revenue share hurts, as it amounts to a 13% pay cut, but better revenue sharing should help grow the league, as will having a longer CBA.

    I supporter the owners last time, because I knew a salary cap would be good for the league. Improving it by having limits on contract length, reducing variations in salary over a contract, and more revenue sharing are all good things.

  2. As a previous hock fan… screw ’em all.

    I’m soooooo tired of all this greed bullshit.

    -One Lost Fan.

  3. bpollen says:

    With the increased take of revenue, the owners should easily be able to compensate all the communities for the revenue that they lost because of the lockout.

    I tell ya, pro sports have become so 1%-er corporate that I am about to give up on pro sports completely.

  4. Zorba says:

    No kidding, nicho. OTOH, all the pro leagues have expanded their playing seasons (primarily involving endless play-offs, which seem to drag on and on and on…..). In the “old days” (okay, back in the Cretaceous Period, when I was a kid) we didn’t have such an incredibly long overlap between the different sports.
    Okay, okay. I’m old. “You kids, get off my lawn!”

  5. nicho says:

    This year, I suspect, they’ll just go right into playoffs, which will end on July 4.

  6. Ron Thompson says:

    And two rounds of playoffs, which ended around April 1st.

  7. nicho says:

    I don’t know how we’re going to scrape by with a limited six-month hockey season. When I was a kid, we had a full five months.

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