Wednesday, July 13, 2005

NHL lock-out is over

The longest labour battle in North American professional sports history is over

The longest labour strife in the history of pro sports in North America is over, with both sides coming to an agreement. That means fans will see a 2005-2006 NHL hockey season kick off this fall.

After marathon talks that began Tuesday at noon and continued through the night into Wednesday morning, the NHL and the NHL Players' Association put the finishing touches on a six-year collective bargaining agreement.

After a year of bickering, it seems that the owners have pretty much got what they wanted, I'm not convinced that the owners were right in this case however. It's not like the league wasn't competitive, because it was, the last team to win back-to-back cups was Detroit in the late '90s, and last year the winner was who? Tampa Bay Lightning in a Stanley Cup final in which Calgary was the opposition. Neither were big spenders. And anyways, who buys a sports team to make money?

I tend to feel that if a team cannot compete financially, then they shouldn't be propped up, they should go out of business, just like any other business that isn't viable.

The deal?

TSN is reporting the possible features of the agreement:

* Term - 6 years (through 2010-11), with option
* Revenue split - Players get 54% of defined revenues
* Payroll in Escrow - Percentage of Salaries
* Payroll Range (including costs) - $21.5 to $39 million US, which is based on projected revenues of $1.8 billion US
* Salary Rollback - 24% across the board
* Maximum Salary - 20% of Team Cap ($7.4 Million US)
* Minimum Salary - $450,000 US

As well there is the usual proposal of moronic rule changes to improve the gameplay.

To revitalize their on-ice product, the league is expected next week to announce, along with details of the new agreement, major changes to the game's rules which are intended to increase the game's appeal and win more fans.

These include:

* A three-minute overtime period with three players from each team, should the score remain tied following the current five-minute overtime.
* The fan-friendly shootout, which will be used if games remain tied.
* Removing the red line to allow two-line passes without an off-side being called. This would presumably open up offensive chances and allow for more breakaways.
* Reducing the size of goalie equipment, intended to allow for more goals to be scored.

The first rule change, stupid and pointless, what the heck is wrong with a tie? Leave it instead of dragging the game out forever in a desperate bid to get a winner.

Of course, the shoot-out is even worse, I hate shoot-outs and hope they come to their senses and realize that adding one won't improve the game.

The last two on the other hand are good ideas which I don't know why they didn't do ten years ago. I also think that they should eliminate icing.