How would you divide NHL's 3.3 billion pie?

How would you divide NHL's 3.3 billion pie?
September 20, 2012, 8:27 pm
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If you believed every NHL player back in 2004, there was no way absolutely no way they were going to play hockey under a salary cap.

We all know how that turned out.

Today, the defiant battle cry for NHL players is all about rollbacks. If the NHL owners want to institute widespread pay cuts, well, the players say theyre barking up the wrong tree.

As the owners say, they want rollbacks. And players arent willing to take them, Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer told after an informal workout with his former Blackhawks teammates.

Were just asking owners to honor the contracts theyve previously signed. In any other business in the world, thats perfectly acceptable. Were willing to halt our future growth so the league can catch up. But were not interested in taking rollbacks.

To review, the players most recent proposal is based on an overall NHL revenue growth of 7.1 percent. Instead of seeing their salaries grow at a 7.1 percent rate, the players have offered a plan in which the salary cap increases 2 percent this season, 4 percent next season and 6 percent in Year 3 of the agreement.

The owners latest offer is not based on revenue growth. Instead, the proposal decreases the players share of future revenue from 57 percent to 49 percent, dropping to 47 percent in the sixth year of the proposal.

In theory, if you factor in the 7 percent growth rate, the players say the owners plan would amount to a 17 percent drop in salaries by the end of the agreement. The owners original offer of a 43 percent share for the players would have resulted in a 21 percent drop in salaries, at least in the opinion of the players.

Capitals center Brooks Laich says he tries to explain the NHLs lockout to fans this way:

Just take yourself, and say your employer comes and says, Were taking 20 percent of your salary, Laich said. They kind of step back and say, Well, I wouldnt let them do that. Now you understand our position. It doesnt matter the amount of money or this and that.

Weve worked our entire lives to be in this position, to be the best possible 700 players in the world at our craft, and we feel we should be paid as the best. When you do sign a contract you expect it to be honored.

If you take the NHLs proposal at face value, a reasonable compromise might be a drop in the players share of revenue from 57 percent to, say, 52 percent over the course of three seasons.

If you take the players proposal at face value remember that many existing player contracts increase in value each season -- a reasonable compromise might be a 2 percent increase followed by 1 percent increases in each of the following two seasons.

That would eliminate or at least drastically minimize the need for rollbacks. It would also, theoretically, increase the owners share of revenue from its current 43 percent to 48 percent in Year 1 and 49 percent in Years 2 and 3.

So there you have it. Two ways of slicing the NHL's 3.3 billion pie.

And in case you're wondering, yes, thats a lot of pie to waste.