So the latest round of negotiation has come and gone with little change. The players offer an eye-popping 24% salary rollback and a yawn-inducing luxury tax system that doesn’t even kick in until $45 million and doesn’t really get serious until $50 million. (The current average team payroll is around $46 million.) The league offers with a predictable salary cap that they have said they need since day one. (They appear to be losing hundreds of millions of dollars per year at the current average team payroll.) Both sides walk away blaming the other side. And Tampa Bay edges that much closer to being the current Stanley Cup Champions for two years without winning back-to-back titles.
I’m still with the owners on this. I’ve seen a few reporters suggest that the players are the only ones giving back in these negotiations. Scott Burnside of ESPN wrote “Both sides have taken steps toward a compromise — the players’ step a stride, the owners’ step a shuffle.” Of course, it’s the players who’ve been making out like bandits under the previous CBA while owners have been getting the screw. Jim McKenzie of the Nashville Predators predicted no hockey until 2006 and then went on to point out that he “would not be where I am now if 10 years ago the [players] had given in [to a salary cap]“. But then he points the finger at the league for their graduated roll back proposal: “They’re like ‘Don’t worry about it. You’re going to get your money.’”. So which is it Jim? Are you worried about getting yours or aren’t you?
Chris Pronger of the St. Louis Blues also predicted no hockey until 2006. Pronger said that “Probably December of ’05 and going into January ’06 we’re going to be in the same position we are in now, trying to come to a resolution.” I’m not sure what’s going to happen then that will resolve this – will the laws of economics suddenly change or will the players union wake up? Personally, I don’t think there will be hockey until 2006 either. We lose this whole season from the lockout and most if not all next season with legal wrangling after the owners eventually declare an impasse.
Will there be anything more disingenuous than Bob Goodenow saying something like “We’re suing the league to protect its integrity” or some shit like that?