Sunday, January 6, 2013

Who This New CBA Sucks For

I'm going to go ahead and assume that you are familiar with the broad strokes of the new CBA, happily reached very early this morning.  I'd like to point out who it sucks for, as I don't see anyone in the mainstream media doing that.

It Sucks For Big Market Teams:  Cheat code contracts are out.  8 year maximum on contracts means teams can no longer load up for a championship run by inking a player to a super-long, risky deal.  The salary cap is returning to where it was in 2011-12.  Players can't be buried in the AHL anymore - they count on the cap past a certain threshold.

It Sucks For Mid-Market Teams:  Mid-market teams who want to spend, profits be damned, are limited by the same rules as the above.  The salary cap is still tied to total revenues, a disproportionate amount come from e.g. the Toronto Maple Leafs.  While the cap is at a 'sane' level now, it may not be there by the end of the agreement, which will limit the parity these teams seek.

It Sucks For Small-Market Teams:  The salary floor in 2012-13 and 2013-14 will be higher than the salary cap was in 2005-06.  No doubt NHL revenues have grown a great deal since then, but besides shares of television contracts, have they really grown that much for teams in weaker markets?  The floor has effectively doubled since the beginning and may end up tripling - have revenues done so for these clubs, and will revenue sharing cover that eventual trebling?

It Sucks For Superstars:  No more contracts with huge amounts of front-loaded dollars.  No more contracts where you as a player both get A: financial security for the rest of your career B: more money than if you signed a 'legitimate' contract and C: cost less money on the salary cap than you otherwise would, thus helping your team get better.

It Sucks For Mid-Range Players:  Without superstars getting those huge front-loaded contracts, mid-range players will have to settle for less of the pie, generally.  Big market teams also have no ability to bury contracts anymore, so I expect fewer deals of 5 and 6 years being given out to average-ish players.

It Sucks for Fringe Players:  Fringe players gave up half a year, and while the minimum salary will increase by 50% over the course of the agreement, fringe-type players are unlikely to see what they lost in this agreement come back to them.

We don't have the full agreement yet.  And no doubt I'm taking a pessimistic view partly for rhetorical reasons.  Still, everyone gave something up here, and it's unclear what exactly they gained besides the ability to conduct business again.

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