I really did not want to write this, but forces far beyond my power are forcing me to do so. Unless a miraculous deal comes down before Sunday, the NHL will begin its lockout next week. There were a few grumblings about things potentially being closer, and then the legend Bob McKenzie at TSN dropped some knowledge in this tweet:
“You can get bogged down with the #s, but all you need to know is NHLPA says won’t take an actual decrease to $ spent on salaries, and the NHL is asking for an immediate and significant reduction in the $ spent on player salaries. Not even in the same universe. Maybe that changes at some point but I seriously doubt it. I don’t think any of this is posturing at this point.”
Okay, that was actually a couple different tweets, but whatever. A reduction in player salaries has been pushed hard by the NHL owners, and they’re showing no signs of slowing. On a personal level, it’s a very difficult position to support. NHL player salaries, when held against the other major sports, look like a downright bargain. To compare, let’s look at the highest paid players per sport (based off 2012 salaries):
- NFL: Dwight Freeney- $19 million
- NBA: Kobe Bryant- $27.8 million
- MLB: Alex Rodriguez- $30 million
And the NHL? Shea Weber, who will make $14 million this year. And he’s the highest by $2 million.
The owners are essentially calling for a 10% reduction in player salaries. The players’ outrage is understandable. Would you be happy if your bosses were trying to take away 10% of your salary? Probably not. Neither are they. They’re the ones putting their bodies on the line, and seeing as that they make far less for taking on more risk than those in the MLB and NBA, it’s hard to disagree with the players.
This also has a tremendous effect on several teams that were very active during free agency this offseason. Many teams were preparing for an increase in the salary cap for 2012-13, and they acquired players accordingly. Teams like the Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, and Vancouver Canucks (among others) could have big time salary cap issues if the new CBA keeps the salary cap the same as 2011-12 ($64 million).
Even though the news is bleak right now, don’t jump off the cliff quite yet. The NFL lockout a year ago chewed into training camp, but they were still able to get a deal done without any shortening of the season. Let’s all hope the NHL can follow their lead.
Photo Credits: Auburn Pub