Ruchika Sharma covers the Florida Panthers for Teenlink.
School is back and the days of summer are coming to an end. Though it's still hot in South Florida, the NHL is beginning to gear up for another season....or are they?
Rumours of a possible lockout have been swirling as early as June of a possible NHL lockout. The League's current CBA is set to expire on September 15th, a time when most teams are preparing for their training camps. The Florida Panthers training camp is slated to begin on September 22nd,
After a profitable year of more than $3.3 billion, the NHL has proposed cutting the players' share of hockey-related revenue from 57% to 46%, which in reality drops to 43% when taking into account the revenues that the NHL will not share with its players. Commissioner Gary Bettman has even stated that if no deal is made by the deadline, the League is prepared to lockout its players. The League also wants to restrict free agency, in terms of limiting the length of contracts to five years (no current limits exist), and increasing the amount of time a player must wait until becoming an unrestricted free agent, from seven to ten years. In addition, the League also wants to eliminate players' rights to arbitration.
The NHLPA, on the other hand, has proposed a three-year deal with an option to revert back to the old CBA during the fourth year. Players' compensation would grow at fixed rates, resulting in compensation being possibly being reduced by more than $800 million over the next three years, all depending on the League's revenue. Clubs in need of assistance would gain from a significantly expanded and simplified revenue sharing system. Additionally, there would be flexibility for teams as the new deal would help GMs to put their teams together: including the reward of additional draft picks for struggling teams, the allowance of teams to trade dollars and players under certain circumstances, and the allowance of small teams to go under or over the salary cap.
As of now, talks between the League and the NHLPA are recessed. Sitting around and waiting has exhausted me. A day doesn't go by without me praying that the season will start on time. With smaller market teams like Los Angeles and South Florida suddenly beginning to flourish, the last thing the NHL needs right now is a lockout. With a profit year, and a growing fanbase, a lockout would only stunt the NHL's progress in trying to become a household sport.