Guest blogger: ilb2001


(Editor’s note: I was going to give my take on the upcoming labor war — and I do believe it will be a war — but this was done in the nick of time by someone far more versed on the CBA than I … so thanks, Captain, and soon-to-be-new daddy).


Carp, thank you for allowing me to do a post as a guest blogger.

Initially I was going to wait until after Mr. Fehr steps in with his NHLPA proposal before doing this, but then I realized that next week, due to the upcoming new addition to my family, I simply may not have enough time to do it. My goal is simple.

We are the fans and we do not want to lose another season. Not again. We were miserable in 2004 and we waited the whole year until the new agreement was finalized. A common consensus was, and still is, that the players gave up too much. Hard to argue, 24% rollback notwithstanding, but something needed to be done. The salaries were outrageous (Bobby Holik, anyone?). The league wasn’t making enough money. Very few teams could survive without substantial losses. Granted, it didn’t fix everything, not at all. But it was a step. And, let’s be honest, by the end of this now expired CBA, players benefited tremendously. Their salaries now are very healthy, front loaded, and long term.

I am going to try and play devil’s advocate in order to defend the fans. We want to see hockey. We want both parties to sit down and see what’s acceptable. Do the numbers. See what works and what can be changed and negotiated. Talk, dammit. Don’t throw tantrums.

If I have enough time next week I will try to look at the NHLPA proposal and see what the owners should consider accepting from it in order to avoid losing another season. As well as some other proposed changes by NHL (EL contract length, UFA eligibility, signing bonuses, salary arbitration rights etc.) I will try, but I think I may have much more important issues to attend to. Can’t wait!

But today I will concentrate on seemingly the most important part. NHL proposed reducing players’ hockey related revenues (HRR) from 57% to 46%. What does it mean and what changes would have to be made?

The first implication would be on a salary cap and, respectively, on players’ salaries.

First, let’s see how the cap is calculated in general. Let’s say that NHL’s total HRR during the past season was $3B. Let’s assume that the players’ share (what they get as salaries) is 57%, as it is now. That amounts to $1.71B to be paid to players. Divided among 30 teams — that’s $57M per team. That is called mid-cap and it is calculated for the upcoming year, next season. The current system allows the cap to be $8M above mid-cap, and the floor $8M below the cap. The numbers would be $65M cap and $49M floor. As you can see, $8M above the mid-cap means that the league expects revenues to go up next year, otherwise players’ share would become higher than 57%. What if the revenue doesn’t go up? In order to assure that the number stays at 57%, players pay escrow- certain part of their salary is withheld, and gets redistributed after each quarter, depending on reported revenue. Over the years, the escrow varied between 5% and 17%.

Looking at the current cap of $70.2M (mid-cap $62.2M), one can calculate that in the 2011-2012 season, NHL made $3.274B. I did the numbers myself, maybe CTB can correct it J

Let’s do the math now, shall we? Assuming that the 46% number is accepted by NHLPA (fat chance!), the mid-cap next year would be $50.2M, and the cap (the NHL wants to reduce the cap allowance from $8M to $4M above the mid-cap) would be $54.2M. Just for your reference, the cap in 2005, when the current CBA started, was $39M. It’s still a 40% increase.

Now, how about we negotiate a little bit. Shall we, just so those poor fans can actually watch hockey? Because, while it was proposed, it is just a proposal and NHL knows it. How about we go midway? Let’s say we go 52% and $6M above the mid-cap, instead of proposed 46% and $4M, respectively. The cap number now is $62.7M. Last year (2011-2012) it was $64.3M. The difference? 2.5%. So how do you compensate for that difference, especially since some of the teams already spent up to the next year’s cap? A rollback? Do they grandfather some of the current contracts in order to be under? An amnesty buyout?

Look, let’s not fool ourselves. The players knew very well that their salaries will not escalate continuously. And the rollback was well anticipated. That’s why players like Richards, Parise, Suter etc, as well as their agents, insisted on heavily front-loaded contracts with huge signing bonuses to protect them from a rollback. The word rollback is well known to players.

How about another issue? Apparently Wade Redden’s $6.5M per year isn’t counted against 57% players share since he isn’t playing in the NHL. Nor is he paying the escrow. Well, the owner is still paying him his salary. Is it really unreasonable to ask that at least some of his salary count?

To me, the most worrisome part is that not only does the NHL want to reduce players’ share, they also want to change how the HRR is calculated. Without knowing any specifics, it’s difficult to predict what numbers they are talking about. We’ll have to wait.

For your reference, the only major sport with hard cap, the NFL, is currently functioning at 47% players’ share. Their Cap number is $120M, only $50M more than the current proposed NHL cap. The revenue? $11B. So while the NFL generates 3.3 times more money, their salary cap is only 1.7 times more than the current NHL’s cap.

Again, I am not defending the players, nor am I defending the owners. All I want is that both parties look at all those numbers and instead of posturing and throwing temper tantrums, like Larry Brooks proposed in his Sunday Slap Shots, try and see what can be done in order to avoid the lock out. And, yes, Larry, it is billionaires against millionaires. For while the owners pocket huge profits, the players, too, are being paid handsomely and sometimes ridiculously. Let’s find what works for both parties. This doesn’t have to become a war. At least, we, the fans, hope so.


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  1. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    First, nice analysis Ilb. This is going to be ugly.

  2. Nice one ilb. And this is another reason not to trade for Nash yet. Just wait and see who is over the new cap and who gets bought out.

  3. bull dog line on

    how many tries does Bettman get. he is the issue, he is the one that has failed the owners. it tough watching him yet again attempt to destroy our favorite sport.

  4. Nice job ilb. In an ideal world they would negotiate in good faith but if seems to me Bettman is determined to prop up some of the failing teams by taking more money from the players and the owners are willing to wait this out. I hope I am wrong and good sense prevails.

  5. Good perspective.

    Dear NHL/NHLPA,

    If there is a strike I don’t think I will be able to watch you anymore without being angry. I still can’t watch baseball. I can barely stand to watch the trembling but obstinate gary bettman talk or present at games. I hate what he represents and embarrassed the owners recruited him from basketball -hardly a model organization. But this will be on the players too, they really f’d that whole thing up last time and were not on the same page. I know the owners/GMs gave out a lot of stupid contracts, but a lot of that is market driven and the players have to give some too. See Redden. Let’s hope Fehr is reasonable.

    I have so little time in my life, and watching rangers games has been fun, but really, if you both are making it all about business I will use that time for the other, more pure, more rewarding activities in my life…

  6. That was really great, ilb. Easily the most educational and professional of the guest blogs thus far.

    Upon reading it, all I can feel is being angry. I love hockey, and I’d rather see the Fishticks and Debbies split the next 6 Stanley Cups than another lockout.

    KHL anyone?

  7. Bottom line, we, the fans are screwed. There won’t be a season and I don’t see sather making anymore moves to add salary until he knows what the new CBA will look like.

  8. czechthemout!!! on


    Great post!

    I agree that Sather should put all moves that raise the current payroll on hold. A lot of teams will have some issues and unless they are grandfathered, will have to release players in what may become some amnesty buyout deal.

  9. Good morning, boneheads!

    Thank you for your kind words. I looked at the process of negotiations while “wearing both owners’ and players’ shoes” in 2004. Unfortunately it was a war and we lost hockey for a year.
    Larry Brooks in his Slap Shots from yesterday presented it as if the owners started a war again. I know he tends to be overly dramatic, and he needs the drama to sell his paper. But if both parties look at it as a starting point and try and see the reasoning behind it instead of throwing tantrums, like his article suggested, it would by far, be a better approach. Everything that has been proposed so far, and will be proposed in the future may have some reasoning behind it. And potential common ground. From now on, we should all try to explain why it was proposed, what it may mean in actuality, and how it could reach a common ground. Drama doesn’t work in negotiations of that magnitude.

    Look, I’m not naive. I know it’ll be ugly. But to what extent? And I do know that at the end of the day it’s about money. It’s about who pockets more. I do not blame them. All we want is for them to find what works for both.

    How about another issue. Yes, owners are making money. The HRR has been growing every year. But what about the owner of the team who pays a player $20M during the first year of players contract while the cap hit only shows $6.67M? He will recover the money at the end of this contract, you may say. Will he? Injuries, trades, less tickets sold in the future. Inflation? Who knows?

  10. Matty"DepthNeeded"Boy on

    Nice job, Ilb.

    Yep, one would think Slather holds off anything unless he gets a bargain, which he won’t(not his fault, Prust sayin’).

    Howson has played this about as wrong for his team and his career as he could have. The value he is seeking will diminish a bit each day. He should have realized the CBA talks would effect the global situation of player value in his sport.

    Whenever he can make a deal, he may have to be happy with just two forwards, AA and Dubi. And, perhaps a first. Or no deal at all.

    This is one time that delaying is a good move.

  11. Thanks a million Ilb’inator. I need someone much smarter than me to explain these concepts. Thanks for taking the time.

    What’s sad is that, for a lot of players, losing 1 year of their career could be a large percentage of their life and income. It’s really sad for those marginal players.

  12. I can see this dragging on to a point where a arbitrator will have to mediate both sides.

  13. Johnny LaRue on

    Yes, but if the owners pay too much it’s a write off for them. All these big corporations, they write off everything.

  14. I know it seems bad but you dont start negotiations in the middle – you start at A, your opponent starts at Z and usually you find a common ground in the K-P range.
    This is the owners proposal that would be their best case scenario, its now up to the NHLPA to say “no, how about we go to 55%” – then they work together, making minor concessions until they meet ideally somewhere in the middle.

    For me this says the owners are looking for 50/50 and one or two concessions on free agent rights.

    I think one of the major sticking points will be what is HRR, as that determines the overall pot size before anyone starts talking about percentages

  15. Exactly my point, UK. I did 52% calculation because it’s somewhat a middle point between 46% and 57%. But that issue about how the HRR needs to be calculated according to owners is difficult to assess without knowing any specifics.

  16. Thanks ILB, very interesting. As a newer fan this is my first time for the CBA so your insights are greatly appreciated.

  17. Seriously though:

    Manny July 16th, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Is the players share literally divided up and handed to the players evenly?

  18. czechthemout!!! on

    When I used to be a fan of baseball, I recall very vividly Mr Fehr and how tough he can be. The nhlpa under his leadership will present an offer just as cqirazy as the one presented by the owners. that’s why I believe we will not have a season this year. Fehr bends very little if at all.

  19. gut feeling no hockey till january with the winter classic leafs wings kicking off the season

  20. Super job ILB. Unfortunately the desperate need to have a season on the part of fans is what gives life to the negotiations. Ultimately both parties will have to decide, “Just how much can we squeeze out of the fans this time around.” As always, the owners and players will gain and the fan will lose. The most hollow words in sports are the owners and players both offering innumerable “Thank Yous to our fans; the greatest fans in the world” while mailing out the increased ticket prices to them.

  21. Buttman must know how hard nose Fehr can be, if he doesn’t, Buttman is a bigger idiot than I thought.

  22. Gut feeling: none of you answer my question about players share and I go on in life confused and devastated that I am lacking such knowledge.

  23. I am just wondering, ilb, whether or not the Players Share is exactly as it sounds. Do the players just get a check, evenly divided among all players, for their 57%?

  24. Manny, 57% is what being paid as their salaries. It, obviously, doesn’t get distributed equally because every player has different salary. But, as a total number, it can not go above 57%

  25. That, I believe, is the salary cap, Manny … without all the complications. The 57 percent is divided among 30 teams which sets the number for the cap.

  26. Yup, exactly, Carp. Isn’t it what I explained above? Dammit, I should’ve used Russian instead of English :-)

  27. OH! Thanks guys. I got confused thinking they got salaries and then extra revenue. That makes the mid-cap and all the rest make sense. I am now an expert.

    Thank you Carp and Ilb. Have a great day both you and may God have mercy on your souls.

  28. I’m trying to look on t’internet for info on the HRR changes – but all it says is that owners are looking to change the definition of HRR, in order to further reduce the “pot”

  29. Bobby Bonilla on

    Bruddas, bruthas, boobalas. I’m STILL getting paid by the Mets, $1 million a year for 25 years. Nice breeze today up here on the water in Greenwich. Go unions!

  30. Working Stiff on

    If Prust can get two and a half million a year, I should be able to at least get a Friday afternoon off every now and again.

  31. Matty"DepthNeeded"Boy on

    Hey with these Nash articles being written and GM’s downplaying his worth, too, we may be able to trade Wellman straight up for him in a few months!!

    Not sure we’d want to give up so much, however. Wellman is our future, you know.

  32. Leetchhalloffame on

    Thankfully Dolan is concentrating on screwing up the Knicks rather than the Rangers this summer. Hope he continues to stay away from the day-to-day hockey operations.

  33. “Leetchhalloffame July 16th, 2012 at 12:18 pm
    Thankfully Dolan is concentrating on screwing up the Knicks rather than the Rangers this summer. Hope he continues to stay away from the day-to-day hockey operations.”

    Please don’t say that to loud, keep it to yourself. If dolan ever got involved with the rangers I would be done as a fan.

  34. Matty"DepthNeeded"Boy on

    We’ve been down the path of the ‘old’ players coming back to ‘fix everything’. Man, Camby, Kidd…..gonna need an ambulance on duty for every game with oxygen. Average age: 36?Then again, probably a rehab center built into the MSG basement, too.

  35. Rangers West on

    What if players put logos all over their jerseys and announcers said things like, “Man that was some rising iPad 12 slap shot and Lundqvist just barely was able to get a piece of it and make a Big Mac and fries save!”

    That could solve the NHL’s money issues.

  36. Latrell Sprewell on

    I be 42 this year. Time to get serious. What that fat TV mofo Doolan pay for the points? I be back n I aint cheep.

  37. Mike green 3 yr deal 18.25 mil. 6.08 cap hit for a guy who’s best years are behind him.

  38. Nice write up, ilb. I think you know more about the CBA implications than most parties involved, i.e. agents, owners, and players…

  39. I love that they let Semin go and then waste tons of money on a man made of Glass who can’t stay healthy for more than 40 games a season. AND they let Wideman go.

  40. I think those CBC feeds of George McPhee’s evident distress after Games 3 and 5 in the NYR-WSH series have probably driven him mad.

  41. Izzy Mandlebaum on

    Nice write-up ilb…

    If I were the players union, I would counter propose just the opposite of what the owners proposed. Players portion raised to 68%, players become free agents after 4 years, entry level contracts for only 1 year, contract lengths remain indeterminate length, continue salary arbitration, increase signing bonuses, and lop-sided contracts.

    Tell them it’s just their initial offer… and maybe the two sides could reach a compromise somewhere in the middle. Let the NHL soak that in for a bit. If we’re lucky maybe Bettman has a stroke.



    The greatest guest post ever! The man is a miracle to human kind!!

  43. Izzy Mandlebaum on

    If the owners want to stop a lot of the foolishness around huge contracts, signing bonuses, lop sided and 17 year contracts, the solution is simple. The Cap hit should equal what the player gets paid that year.

    If you give a player a front loaded contract for 8 million the first year, plus a 5 million dollar signing bonus, then the cap hit the first year would be $13 Million.

  44. Izzy Mandlebaum on

    I haven’t changed diapers in 28 years…..

    They must be really full…

  45. Yup, that is how it should be, Izzy. What’s wrong with Gaborik’s 5 year, $37.5M contract? Nothing! $7.5M per year, no bonuses, no problems.

  46. Oh, you done good, Johnny.

    Did you ever think what are you gonna do on the toilet?

    I’d like to have shoehorn hands.

  47. Wicky© RUPP SMASH!!! on

    WOW!!! Great post ILB!
    I actually get it now.

    I just don’t think the league and players could be collectively idiotic enough to actually have any sort of work stoppage or lockout to keep the season from starting on time….never mind.

  48. I would pay it. I would think that Semin is worth more than that scooter-riding-sock-and-sandal-wearing-fragile-as-glass guy Mike Green

  49. Johnny LaRue on

    What’s with this Scissorhands guy anyway? What’s he supposed to be some kind of superhero like Green Lantern?

  50. Wicky© RUPP SMASH!!! on

    I think I would too, especially if you couldn’t or wouldn’t get a Nash or ryan.

    I like style of play that Doan has, but people always talk about crazy contracts and cap killing contracts of Nash or Brich or Redden, Doan’s would be an over 35 and the rumours are he is asking for 4 year 30 mil range (Prust’s contract is pipe dream compared to that).

    Point is, I would take semin (despite his playing style or lack there of) for 2 years @ 10 mil over what Doan wants any day.

  51. CapGeek lists WADE REDDEN as a comparable to Mike Green! Glad they have similar contracts.

  52. Wicky© RUPP SMASH!!! on

    I would guess this little excerpt from the cerny article pretty much says it all about how the organization feels about mcilrath and where they expect him to be in the future……

    Now he returns to off-Broadway, if you will, to instill future Rangers with the skills, passion, and technique that will be required to succeed at the NHL level—players like a young defenseman who has been compared to him Beukeboom since the day he was selected 10th overall by the Blueshirts back in 2010, Dylan McIlrath.

    “I think he will be a huge focus of mine,” Beuk said of McIlrath, who is currently recovering from knee surgery. “The organization has invested a high draft pick and a lot of time and energy into a young prospect who brings a different skill set to the table. Obviously his skill set is hard to find in a defenseman. I really look forward to working with (McIlrath).”
    That skill set to which Beukeboom refers is one that he, himself, possessed over his 804-game NHL career: a willingness to play a fierce, fearless, and nasty game in front of his own net and in the corners, as well as a willingness to drop the gloves and fight in order to protect his teammates. Beukeboom relished that role during his playing career, and now he relishes helping McIlrath become, perhaps, the next Jeff Beukeboom at Madison Square Garden.

  53. Wicky© RUPP SMASH!!! on

    i’d take prust and his contract over doan and his “reported” contract levels any day!!

  54. Wicky© RUPP SMASH!!! on

    i also, would take his offer…i’d take the interest off of his offer…personally that is

  55. Ilb2001

    After so many contributions to this blog over the months ( years now), I am amazed by the sheer volume of information that you have somehow compiled and written so cogently about it all
    amassed such a amazing insight into the workings of a system that is not your normal forte, words escape me. I know about former players and have formed insights about some of the better known players, but to reveal a working knowledge of the ins and outs of the financial aspects of this game. complete with a report that is so highly readable, even for a dabbler like me ( and several others here),
    is revealing. You know that there are a number of bonesters who have pretty good knowledge of
    the intricacies of it all, but many of these folks are professionals. Superfan….that’s the explanation.

    Carry on old chap.

  56. I hope McIlrath does not become the next Beukeboom. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate what Beuk added to those Rangers teams in the 90s, but I also remember a guy that took stupid penalties at inopportune times. If McIlrath can play the physical game, but know to stay out of the penalty box in the last 2 minutes of a one-goal game, then I’m all for it.

    How’s that for negativity, Manny?

  57. Awesome e-mail Ilb.

    Awesome, Charlie. Charlie for President! Fran for VP!

    In the future Charlie, try to call him a bust and then say “Season over” or something like that.

  58. Mussels Marinara – Shelfish player…uh, …I mean selfish player! Don’t let the name fool ya. Hates to go in the corners. Rumor has it he uses a napkin once a month. Easily steamed (by coaching criticisms,) and has a thin skin, but basically harmless. Teammates have complained that he smells, but like Madonna, he takes a shower after every three periods.

  59. Current roster as set we are 8th in east. Out in 6 to pens.

    That negative enough manny for you

  60. Good afternoon all and a very belated bravo to all the recent guest bloggers! An extra kudo to the Captain though for breaking down the CBA, NHLPA, HRR, watchamicallits etc. into an easy to understand premise….and for calling on all to potential aasens to get off their asshatsand get this worked out.

    Look to the cookie, NHL, look to the cookie”

    In other news, early congrats to ilb and mrs. Ilb, Tony is going home today, and early happy 26th to Tiki!!!!

  61. I say that if it’s a given that we can’t beat the Pens, load up with a roster like the old Flyers that can at least kick their azzes.

  62. Which do you prefer?

    One or two arrogant incredibly wealthy owners…or

    Lots of arrogant wealthy players?

    I prefer the former.

  63. Matty"DepthNeeded"Boy on

    Wicky, on McIlrath, from your blog entry to the guy above. Let us pray. We could use a fierce Ken Daneyko type on the blue line (not at the microphone). Pretty much haven’t had a good one since Beuke.

  64. The only Ranger forward in the last 35 years who had the onions to hang around and bang in the crease, take a beating, and pour in dozens of “junk” goals was Vickers. Oh, my. I DO hope that’s not taken the wrong way.

  65. Matty"DepthNeeded"Boy on

    Tim Kerr? Espo? For cameo’s.

    Yes, good ole’ Ulfie. How could I forget?

  66. McIlrath=Beuk? Including his occasional out-of-position-to-run-someone penalties? Where do I sign?

  67. Oops! How could I forget Gravy? Cally’s still a baby, but certainly qualifies, may become the best ever in the sweater (in this category)

  68. (Beek, too, but wasn’t here long enough, Kerr certainly wasn’t, did his damage for other colors, often to us)

  69. czechthemout!!! on


    As of now in the limited time that I have seen him, he lacks Bueks hockey sense. Again I said in the limited times I have seen hum. By all reports and accounts of Mcilrath’s play, he is still 2-3 years away. Very disappointing as a tenth overall pick. But will see.

  70. Herb “Turnips” de Provence – Speaking of onions! This guy had them coming out of the ground. Smoother hip check than Mae West, and a lot quicker to get aroused. You want to skate through the crease, make sure all your health insurance is paid up and you’ve made your peace with the Lord.

  71. Czech, I hope you’re wrong about McIlrath, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Defense in the NHL is a tough gig. You can’t get by with just physical talent. You have to have it upstairs too.

  72. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    Tom Poti is a first ballot HoF’er….should have his own win corner (ironically, he never went into the corner in his own end)

  73. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    3 great rangers wore the #3…harry howell, ron harris, and one of the greatest rangers ever…tom poti…..such a big stick, so little courage

  74. Beuk took a while to develop too. He was with the Oilers for one of their Cups in which he didn’t play in the playoffs. Then he won three as a player there, and one here, I believe.

  75. Love the “garbage goal” reminiscences. Some of those names, most of them without the Hollywood flash, were the real reason we hung in there, moreso than the fancy figure skaters who still get all the ink.

  76. I saw the ultimate garbage goal from Jan Erixon’s nose t win a playoff game 1-0 in the deadolands. He didn’t score many but that was a bute. Carp any idea what game that was?

  77. I think they are waiting for Tampa to announce that signing of Matt Carle to 6 year, $5.5M per was a joke first, Manny…

  78. Evening gang.

    ilb, thanks for the great, concise, easy to understand explanation. I only nominally understand a lot of this stuff and I think I’m pretty smart. So it takes a really really smart person to turn all that complicated wording into something that the common person can grasp.

    In hindsight, do we think perhaps Sather might be playing this off-season smart considering the potential new CBA ramifications.

  79. Mike “10-foot pole” Green…shell of the player he once was…

    He’s average at best, as far his skill as a defensive d-man…

    $6m is a big joke…and it’s on Caps fans…

  80. Hypothetical question: What has the best chance of happening?

    a) Jackets win the Cup

    b) Nash gets traded

    c) Howser gets fired.

    I’m going with all of the above. How about you guys?

  81. JimboWoodside on

    >>>Tom Poti is a first ballot HoF’er….should have his own win corner (ironically, he never went into the corner in his own end)

    Poti played defense as if every enemy player was coated with peanut butter – and hence, he could not come in contact with them..

  82. Rod Gilbert is hanging at the Yankees game with Doc Gooden, Mickey Rivers and David Cone, per Rod’s twitter account. I’m not sure how to deal with the bit of news…

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