A Change of Pace: NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement


Everyone has used this blog to talk nonstop about the Rangers this season and down the road.  I am guilty myself of doing it, so I have decided to change the tempo for a bit and talk about something different: the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Nice, interesting change of pace from worrying about roster moves.


I will like to make a confession: I have been a constant visitor of  No, it is not because I believe in what this Eklund character says about these rumors, however, do find them to be great conversation starters amongst hockey friends.  I go on because of the other articles on the website.  I have become fond of the writings of Bill Meltzer and his “Musings”, Jan Levine and the “Rangers Blogs”, Sam Woo’s take on the New Jersey Devils, and especially Aaron Musick on his marketing techniques on how to better promote the Colorado Avalanche organization and their new team (although they could have gotten someone better than Semyon Vlaramov for two crucial picks since their team is not ripe yet).  Before I digress, and yes this is from Eklund, I read that the NHL’s CBA is about to expire and I’m hoping there will not be another Lockout.  I’m an avid hockey fan and will be very displeased if there is one.  I like what the current one offers, however it could use some tweaking.


What I am going to do here is talk about the changes that I would like to see the NHL make and not make.  Use this post to discuss ideas that you have in mind and critique my thoughts as well.  I find that joint collaboration in such discussions can generate interesting ideas that could help better the sport of hockey and the NHL itself. 




Game Play:

The NHL would like to change the dimensions of the ice and the size of the nets.  I feel that the current ice dimensions should not be changed.  As for the net, an inch or two at most could be added.  The extra space will lead to more goal scoring for sure, however, thirty goal scorers might not be viewed as highly as they use to be.  This can affect future contract negotiations and may as well affect scoring records. 



I am probably the only hockey fan who feels this way, but can we please get rid of the point system?  I feel that the point system is a lazy way to make the playoffs.  My argument:


Some examples:

A team wins only 20 games but loses the other 62 in over time.  The result: (20x2)+(62)= 102 points. 

A team wins 45 games but loses all remaining contests in regulation.  The result is a 90-point campaign.  The team above them wins five less games and loses 12 of their contests in OT.  The result: a 92 point season.  Where is the incentive?  A team that won five more games than their opponents cannot make the playoffs (in this scenario) because they couldn’t lose in overtime. 

2007/08 Eastern Conference Standings (link):

Here, seeds 5-9 are distorted because of the amount of times each team has lost in over time.  In ninth place, the Hurricanes finished with 43 wins, whereas the Boston Bruins made it with only 41. 


I for one feel that the teams with the most wins should make the playoffs, not the losers.  In every other sport, there is more excitement in the games when the team needs to “win or go home”.  In hockey, it’s like “just get to OT, get the point, and do whatever… you’re in!”  Also, everyone says that this year’s East Playoff race wasn’t a contest, when in reality only 5 wins really separate the best from the worst.  The elimination of the point system will make games more competitive come playoff time.  Keep the regular season rules of overtime, because the league did attract a lot of fans because of the shootout.   As for tie breakers, goal differential or head to head.  That should lead to more high scoring games.  Think about it, if the point system did not exist this year, the standings in the east would have looked something like this (w/ goal differential)…

1.  Pittsburgh  49-33

2.  Washington 48-34

3.  Philadelphia 47-35

4.  Boston 46-36 (+51)

5.  Tampa Bay 46-36 (+7)

6.  NY Rangers 44-38 (+35)

7.  Montreal 44-38 (+7)

8.  Buffalo 43-39

We would have played Philly and taken advantage of their Carousel of Goalies since we were able to figure them out at the right time.


The top three seeds should not be occupied by division winners!




Draft, AHL eligibility

Much pondering went into this.  Teams draft prospects, they are NHL ready after camp, stellar preseason… but because of age and CHL agreements, they cannot make the club because of some 9-game tryout rule.  If they don’t make it, then they are sent back to their respective leagues.  Some come back the next year more sharp, while others let development suffer.


Take Christian Thomas for example.  He seems to be NHL ready, but because of our current roster, he might have to go back to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.  He can’t play in the AHL because of that stupid rule.  I totally understand that this rule was made to maintain the popularity of the CHL leagues, but the AHL too is suffering.  The ECHL is about to get a great boost of attendance, especially the Trenton Titans since the Devils cancelled operations there.  I go to school near Trenton and can guarantee you that the changes that they are making to this league WILL bolster popularity.  The AHL is a joke right now popularity wise for the best developmental league in the world.  I can fix that.


For the draft, when it comes to players coming from the Canadian Junior leagues, they should not be draft eligible until they play two seasons with their respective leagues (30 games minimum).  The organization that drafts the players should have the say in whether or not those players should continue to play in the CHL or come play in the pros.  For players overseas, keep same rules.


Instead of the “9-games” in the NHL, do it instead in the AHL or ECHL.  Fresh young blood can make AHL games more worthwhile to go to.  There is an emotional affect here, but I don’t want to go into detail.


For players on Preseason Tryouts, if they don’t make the cut, they should be acknowledged to join their affiliates in the minors.  Take Owen Nolan for example, currently trying out for the Canucks.  Let’s say he doesn’t make the cut.  No one else will take him more than likely.  What if he plays in the AHL? Veteran presence can attract fans and also help young players with their development and pointers.  Perfect teaching tool if you ask me.  In regards to the money, $100,000 is a pretty damn good contract for playing hockey past your prime.  The country is in financial distress right now.  I’d take it, but that’s just me.   The Saint Johns Ice Caps fans will be thrilled to see a guy like Owen Nolan playing hockey in their town.




Buyouts and Contracts

Doesn’t it piss you off that teams have to take on the contracts towards their caps of players they just bought out?  It sucks!  For the next two seasons, the Rangers have to pay Chris Drury and it’s eating up space that could have gotten us someone phenomenal.


If a team wishes to buyout a player, the GM should give said player 2/3 of what is due on his contract and it does not go against the cap.  Let me explain:


Scenario 1: Magnus Godusuck signed a 10 year deal for $20 million.  He gets paid exactly $2M per year and takes on the same cap hit.  At year 5, with 6 points in five seasons, 200 PIM, minus-100 rating, and piss-poor attitude, the team wants Magnus gone.  He has ten million due to him, so by simple math, 2/3(10)= 6.667, the team pays him one lump sum of $6,666,666.67.  He walks away for good.


Scenario 2: Donald Dingleberry gets a 5 year, $50 million dollar contract that pays him $35M the first two years and $15 million the next three.  Takes up $10M in cap space.  After one year, yes one year, he is not what everyone expects him to be.  Ion fact, your whole fan base wants him gone.  He has $32.5M due, so you buy him out at $21,6666,666.67.  One lump sum, and his horrid cap space is gone.



Player being bought out- He gets his money and walks away.  Don't worry, someone will still sign them at an Nicklas Bergfors contract ($575,000 for one season).  STILL A LOT OF MONEY!!!!

Team buying out player- They may have had to pay the price, but the free cap space will allow them to get new and hopefully better personnel.


Injured players on the long term should get no special privileges in regards to the buyout.  As long as it is documented that they will be gone for a very long time, possibly 1.5-plus seasons without playing any games in between or missing more than 60 games due to injury each in consecutive seasons (60 one year, 60 in next...), they too should get bought out if desired by their team.


A team can pay as much as they want for a player, as long as they do not go over the cap.  Bonuses too go against the cap, as already instituted.  If the team wishes to pay $50 million per year for a player and use remaining roster space for cheap players, then that is their prerogative. I am for the hard cap hit.


NTC and NMC should be removed.  If a team wishes to trade you, then they should trade you, as long as the other team has the room in the cap and the funds to pay that player their salary.  The NHL is a business and regardless of where you go, you will still be getting your money. 




As extreme as these measures are, these are my suggestions on how to improve the league and fix the CBA. 





Comment, criticize, offer suggestions, a different pace from worrying about the 2011/12 Rangers season. 


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