Larry Brooks Explains What's Going to Happen in the Next CBA

Next CBA demands creativity - Larry Brooks -

Repeat after me. Unless a team is a serious Stanley Cup contender prepared to shoot the moon in an attempt to win, it is not about this year. Instead, it is about maintaining maximum flexibility coming out of next summer's CBA negotiations that are sure to yield a dramatically reduced cap.

Really? A dramatically-reduced cap? Based on what, exactly? With revenues at an all-time high, the owners are going to argue they're still losing money? That doesn't pass the smell test. Maybe there's something I don't know going on behind the scenes -- and if there is I would love to see evidence of it -- but the owners and union would have to be suicidal to put fans through another lockout...and that's what it would take to get a "dramatically reduced cap."

The last two Stanley Cup winners in Chicago and Boston emerged from the canceled 2004-05 season with few player commitments, thereby allowing those clubs to pick and choose -- and survive blunders -- in amassing personnel under a hard cap. That's the model that should be followed entering this final season under the current CBA.

That doesn't follow. If there's a cap deduction (and rollback of salaries, which goes with it), teams will be allowed to buy-out whoever they want. There's no penalty for having players signed under such circumstances.

[...] The percentage of the gross is going down in the NFL. The percentage of the gross is going down in the NBA. And the percentage of the gross will be going down in the NHL beginning in 2012-13.

So, teams will be allowed to spend dramatically less on players' salaries, and players' salaries will be rolled back, and the percentage of profits the players get to keep will go down, too? Not a chance.

Gary Bettman's utopia proved [to be] nothing of the sort. The entire concept of "gross revenue" in the NHL is fraudulent. Teams do not pool their revenue under any circumstance other than to arrive at a figure that's then used to calculate the cap.

They also "pool" revenue to determine the numbers for revenue sharing. The idea is that the poorer teams don't want to spend as much on payroll as the richer teams. The players' union benefits from the league as a whole spending more on the players as a whole. And all the clubs -- except maybe the richest handful -- benefit from a cap on payroll. In order to incentivize the poorer teams to spend to the "floor," they get "revenue sharing."

There's nothing fraudulent about it, in principle. I can't even determine from Brooks' comment who he thinks is being defrauded. I guess the richer clubs. Oh, right. Because he's looking at it through Rangers-colored glasses.

[...] It never made the slightest bit of sense the Islanders' minimum payroll would be dependent on the Rangers' revenues or the Hurricanes would have to spend more because the Maple Leafs make more money year after year after year. But common sense doesn't matter.

It makes perfect sense if you consider that the Maple Leafs' profits depend in part on them having other teams to play, and that the financial health of each franchise is literally to some degree the business of the other 29.

Percentage of the gross is Bettman's baby. It is not going away. It is, however, going down, and if the owners have their way, it is going down dramatically, to somewhere in the range of 48-to-50 percent.

The players are going to give back 7-9% of their salaries?

Beyond that, there will be a push to include minor-league contracts under the cap --

It's a different league. The CBA has no jurisdiction over the AHL.

-- to impose stringent term limits on deal, to transform the mid-point into the ceiling;

Lower the cap from $64.4MM to $56.4MM? That's a 13% reduction. The players are going to give back 7-9% of their salaries, with -- according to Brooks' numbers -- a further 4-6% reduction in maximum payroll. That's many, many millions of dollars in salary that will have to be bought out. $50MM? $75MM? That's a lot of salary to get rid of, on top of a salary roll-back.

This is simply about pointing out the way of the future. The cap is going down.

The whole point of the system under the current CBA is that the cap is tied to revenue. If revenue goes up, the cap goes up. If revenue goes down, the cap goes down. I'm still waiting for Brooks to say something other than what amounts to because I say so.

[...] The only way to prevent chaos -- anarchy! -- under a dramatically reduced cap is to effect a rollback accompanied by amnesty buyouts. But it is inconceivable [that] Fehr [...] would preside over a rollback [...].

Therefore what? Another work stoppage? So, if I'm understanding Brooks, there will be a roll-back and dramatic cap reduction, but not before another lost season. If he's basing this on anything, he's not giving any hints.

This weekend has produced insanity. Columbus and Jeff Carter for more than a decade? Good luck. The Kings and Mike Richards for almost a decade? Good luck. The Panthers and Brian Campbell for five more years at more than $7 million per? Well, that's Dale Tallon for you.

Again, point? Mike Richards cap hit is $5.75MM. That's pretty affordable, and Brooks is saying it will get rolled back to under $5MM, which is even better. And, as far as Carter and Campbell go, what's the problem with these contracts if -- according to Brooks -- there will be amnesty buy-outs and everyone will get off scot-free?

The inevitability of a dramatically reduced cap is the reason the Rangers cannot, simply cannot, get into a wild bidding war for Brad Richards, regardless of his unimpeachable immediate value.

Again, according to Brooks, whatever deal Sather negotiates can be wriggled out of under the new CBA, so what's the risk? Seriously, if everyone's salaries are rolled back, and the cap is reduced, and the players' share is reduced, that means that whatever Sather gives Brad Richards will also be proportionately reduced.

[...] With or without a rollback, dozens of players will be available after mechanisms are imposed to allow teams to get under a reduced cap.

Exactly. So there's no reason to worry about it now.

If the Rangers were one player away -- were one Richards away -- from winning the Cup this season, it would be different. But they're not. Anyone who paid attention to the playoffs would have to recognize that reality. It is, therefore, Sather's charge to maintain maximum flexibility going into 2012-13 just the way the Blackhawks and Bruins did going into 2005-06.

I don't think the Blackhawks and Bruins won the cup (that they almost didn't win, by the way) because of their "flexibility" coming out of the lock-out. Philly almost won the cup, and they were the antithesis of flexible. The Canucks? I don't know if the flexible label applies to them, either. And what about those other post-lock-out cup-winning teams, the Ducks, Red Wings, Penguins and Hurricanes? Seems like it's at least as important to have a great coach, clutch goal scorers and hot goaltending. The ability to add tons of just-bought-out free agents doesn't strike me as all that important. But what do I know?