Original "NHL" post
STATE OF THE LEAGUE
Click here to access the NHL's CBA information website
- Meetings progress as a leak that a deal is near triggers teams to renew coaches' contracts and begin the process of gathering personel.
- The lockout finally ends unofficially on July 13 as early details report a salary range between $22 (minimum) and $39 million (maximum), revamped free agnency, lower rookie salaries and other revenue definitions. The 2005-06 season will take place on time and in its entirety.
- Winnipeg awaits a team to relocate to MTS Centre. A fragile southern team is most likely.
March - June 2005
- The NHL and NHLPA meet numerous times with the goal to rectify the problems in order to get the 2005-06 campaign underway on time and in order.
- eeting intensify come June and more and more players speak out against the union and its failed attempt to hold firm on their stance.
- Tension builds and pressure mounts as both sides try to figure out how to hold a draft and begin the 05-06 season on time. The owners feel the ball rolling their way.
- Players turn down a $42.5 million salary cap proposal by the league along with other components.
- Gary Bettman officially cancels the entire 2004-05 season as no deal is even close to being agreed upon. The players feeling that the owners were bluffing is proven wrong.
- As previously predicted by this website the younger players in the NHL begin to speak out against the NHLPA and about being mis-represented. Afterall, they are the ones that have yet to make their fortunes playing hockey. It is their bread and butter and they are being forced to sit out while the already wealthy veterans take an easy vacation without pay. None of this should come as any surprise. Winnipeg waits, salivating as each month passes.
- NHL owners vote unanimously to lockout the players. Armageddon begins.
- The two sides are worlds apart on how they see the NHL to be economically structured.
- Canadian teams make it clear they will not be able to survive under any agreement that is similar to the existing model. Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary are likely to fold or relocate (to where??) if that is the case.
- In addition, many American teams will also not be able to foot the bill. At least 11 teams are in serious trouble down south. Namely: Atlanta, Carolina, Nashville, Miami, Tampa Bay. Phoenix, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Buffalo, Anaheim and the New York Islanders.
- Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow each appear on seperate episodes of The National on CBC as part of an open forum, taking questions from all over North America.
- The Levitt Report shows that 19 of 30 teams lost significant money in the 2002-2003 season totaling some $273 million. It is estimated that this season 25 of 30 teams will be in the red with the losses exceeding $400 million. The players, to no surprise, don't believe the findings and have requested that an NHLPA-hired auditor crunch the numbers.
- The players have been told to plan for a minimum of one year without playing, possibly two years.
- The players are prepared for a lengthy lock-out. When asked about playing in the new WHA some seem interested, some think it will be a "bush league".
- The NHLPA recently offered the NHL owners a 5% pay cut across the board. The offer was laughable and flatly refused.
- The players maintain that they will not, under any circumstances, accept a cap of any form. The owners want a $31 million US hard cap.
With the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) due to expire in 2004, we are prepared to see major changes to an NHL in big trouble. The sport has been butchered beyond belief. This is an issue that needs no elaboration as we are well aware of its current state. This site is not designed to create hours of reading for you nor is it set out to rant about political issues and complain about Gary Bettman. It’s purpose is to find the way around these conditions and how to successfully return the Jets to Winnipeg. Many of us are very emotionally driven with regards to this topic. As Canadians, we feel ripped off. And we should. However, what’s done is done and we must focus our time and energy on getting a team back rather than whining about how the NHL and Barry Shenkarow turned on us. The NHL will come crawling back one day soon, begging for a market that will support hockey at all let alone somewhat. It sounds corny but it is not far-fetched. Minneapolis did it. They averaged 8,000 fans a game and lost their team. Now they have it back and sell-out nearly every game.
The support from other Canadian NHL cities will be there too. Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa would love nothing more than to see hockey in Winnipeg again. It creates a rival again, it gives them another layer of security and it reflects a promising future for the state of their teams.
The NHL is seeing the lowest TV ratings in years, falling attendances in most of their American cities and salaries that are out of control. Denver, Detroit and Dallas do well. I should hope so. They have owned the Stanley Cup for a decade. The Phoenix Coyotes are averaging 1200 fans less than our worst attended season in Winnipeg. They are now building them a larger arena. They are supposed to fill 19,000 seats every game now?!? Bill Guerin makes $9.5 million a season. The sport cannot sustain this kind of paycheck for any player of any caliber. I have never seen anything so backwards.
Where is Wayne Gretzky to bring his team (ironically the Jets of old) back to Winnipeg where he, of all people, knows it will have the support and could rally big money in a heartbeat? Where is Mario Lemieux? Does he honestly think he will do any worse in Winnipeg than in Pittsburgh? Does Atlanta really love the Thrashers or do they prefer the Falcons and Braves? Does Nashville really exist or did I have a bad dream? How did these teams end up in these places. Did someone honestly believe it would be easier to succeed in Raleigh than in Hartford? Absolutely no offense to these cities but how would they feel if Winnipeg took their football teams away from them only to struggle even more thereafter?
Stay tuned for NHL news updates as things unfold there.