What if contracts honored only for this season?

What if contracts honored only for this season?
October 22, 2012, 8:15 pm
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Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, left, of Russia , joins team majority owner Ted Leonsis, right, during a news conference that announced that the Capitals have signed Ovechkin to a 13-year contract, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008, in Washington.

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Alex Ovechkin says he’d rather play in Russia than take a big pay cut and return to the NHL.

Don Fehr says the players are willing to go to a 50-50 split on revenue sharing if the owners are willing to honor the contracts already in place for the players.

Bill Daly says if current contracts were honored the league would be forced to pay the players $650 million more than with their current proposal.

With the NHL lockout now at Day 37 and with Gary Bettman’s Thursday deadline to save a full NHL season looming, it may be time for a little creativity.

What if the NHL’s owners agreed to honor all current contracts for the 2012-13 season, then went to a straight 50-50 split with the players beginning next season?

Could such a proposal get the two sides back at the bargaining table while also saving an 82-game NHL season?

Well, think about it. The players already have lost their first of 13 paychecks, or 7.69 percent of their 2012-13 salary. For a player making $2 million, that’s $153,846 in lost wages, never to be retrieved.

If the players miss another paycheck next Monday they will have lost 15.38 percent of their salary. That’s another $307,692 in lost wages for a player making $2 million.

But if the owners agree to pay their players full salary this season and drop immediately to 50-50 next season, both sides would get what they say they want.

The players would start seeing their salaries reduced at the start of next season, while the owners would achieve their desired result of a 50-50 split one year later than they hoped.

That might be enough to convince Ovechkin to return to the NHL and end his war with Bettman. Otherwise, one of the league’s star players may cry breach of contract and consider playing the remainder of his career in the KHL.

 And that is a can of worms no one on either side wants to open.