NHL lockout has become matter of principle

NHL lockout has become matter of principle
October 19, 2012, 6:15 pm
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To the players, the NHL lockout has become more about principle than about percentages.

It’s about owners honoring the contracts under which the players agreed to play.

“I hear a lot of stuff in the media that the players are greedy and they’re getting paid good money anyways,” Capitals left wing and resident lockout commentator Jason Chimera said Friday.

“But when you sign your name to a contract and you have set dollars – I don’t care where you are in life – some jobs you can sue the guy for not paying you [even though you have] a legal, binding contract. And the owners seem to think it’s OK not to honor the contracts.”

According to NHLPA union chief Don Fehr, under the 50-50 proposal issued by owners on Tuesday, players would be forced to have 12.3 percent of their pay placed in an escrow account.

In the case of Chimera, who makes $1.75 million, that means placing $215,250 into an escrow account in which he may never see a return. If you’re Alex Ovechkin and making $9 million, you’re talking about placing more than $1.1 million in escrow.

Perhaps that’s why Fehr’s final proposal to the owner on Thursday was so simplistic: Honor the current contracts and in all future contracts we’ll go to a 50-50 split on all hockey-related revenue.

“We said we’d go to 50-50 next year, just honor the contracts,” Chimera said. “We’re not asking for more, we’re giving up a lot to get this going. A billion dollars is not just a little chunk of change. We gave them three different options which all went down to 50-50

“So when I hear people say they can’t back the players, we’re not greedy people. We don’t want more. We want what we signed on our contracts. We just want in dollar terms what our contracts say they’re worth.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly estimated that if the owners agreed to honor the players’ current contracts it would result in a 56 or 57 percent share of the total revenue in Year 1 and estimated it would result in $650 million above the players’ current share.

With that proposal clearly out of the question, let’s examine what the players offered in their first counter proposal on Thursday, compared to the 50-50 proposal made by the owners two days before. Remember, this is with an annual growth rate of 5 percent, which is below the average of 7.1 over the past seven seasons:

NHLPA Offer
 
     League revenues    Players share    Percentage       
2011-12    $3.303 billion    $1.883 billion    57.0 percent       
2012-13    $3.468 billion    $1.920 billion    55.4 percent       
2013-14    $3.642 billion    $1,980 billion    54.4 percent       
2014-15    $3.824 billion    $2.060 billion    53.9 percent       
2015-16    $4.015 billion    $2.060 billion    51.3 percent       
2016-17    $4.216 billion    $2.108 billion    50.0 percent       
                       
Total (2012-17)    $19.164 billion    $10.128 billion    52.8 percent    
 
NHL offer                      
 League revenues         Players share         Percentage       
2011-12    $3.303 billion    $1.883 billion         57.0 percent       
2012-13    $3.468 billion    $1.734 billion         50 percent       
2013-14    $3.642 billion    $1.821 billion         50 percent       
2014-15    $3.824 billion    $1.912 billion         50 percent       
2015-16    $4.015 billion    $2.007 billion         50 percent       
2016-17    $4.216 billion    $2.108 billion         50 percent       
                            
Total (2012-17)    $19.164 billion    $9.582 billion         50 percent    

Chimera smiled nervously when asked if he was optimistic the season could be saved.

“Optimistic is kind of a loose term,” he said. “It seems the boundaries are there to make a deal. If they said yes to honoring our contracts it could probably get done in six hours.

"We don’t feel like we have to take a step back to take a step forward. We feel we can both take steps forward and we’ll both benefit from it.”