Parity for Parity’s sake

Recent conversation over email with the two sports geeks that used to run a blog with me went back and forth over the current lockout and the economics of parity, which has become a key talking point again among proponents of salary caps/floors and revenue. The parts in italics are not mine this time.

Cough cough I agree mouse… However big market teams like the flyers, red wings, rangers, caps, devils, Boston , Montréal. Toronto haven’t reniged on any contracts as these teams get revenue into the door.. Nashville , Florida , and others yeah not so much… I blame this all on Bettman anyway

The problem isn’t that existing contracts previous to the end of the last CBA weren’t being honored, they were because of how the CBA was written. The question at hand is 1) will they remain en force under the new CBA or will the new restrictions essentially nullify a portion of player salary. There were several “make whole” proposals floated where owners would bridge the gap between the new CBA and the existing contracts but just the fact that it was a negotiating sticking point is worrisome to begin with. Owners seemed to offer and/or sign contracts with the full knowledge they could be invalidated under the new CBA which is not bargaining in good faith. 2) Will the new CBA offer any new contract protection or will it slowly morph into the NFL scheme were player contracts are the flimsiest of the four leagues from an ownership standpoint. There’s more flexibility in getting a contract off the books there then in the MLB or NHL and even the NBA which softened its stance. 3) Will controls be put in place to stop the owners from harming themselves while still offering player stability and brand reassurance. Personally, I believe the cap hit shouldn’t be normalized, your cap hit is the entire base pay + bonus in the year paid so that if you do an arching contract that gets bloated in the middle you can’t use the beginning and end of the contract to reduce the hit, if you do a front loaded one you take the pain up front regardless of what the tail pays out; the cap hit remains in place through long term injury, retirement, they only way to remove the cap hit is for the contract to expire or be voided, player is traded with the other team assuming 100% of the salary, etc.; growth and regression can only increase or decrease by maximum fixed percentages, you can’t increase or drop salary from year-to-year more than x% within a contract cycle (out of contract there’s no limit, in creating extention there’s no limit between the end of the exiting contract and the extension beginning, etc.) I don’t have a problem with contract length if you take away much of what length did to circumvent the cap. I still think Ovie signs his deal, Stall signs his deal, DiPetro probably even signs his deal, etc. because albeit long they don’t circumvent the cap per se, what you don’t have are some of the other ones like NJ, Philly and Vancouver as well as some mid-tier players getting 6-plus year deals that are using the same long tail structure.

I don’t “blame” Bettman alone. Bettman still takes marching orders from the owners and the owners are their own worst enemy. Players exploited the owners weaknesses by using Free Agency to their advantage to leverage for these kinds of dollars and years but it was the owners that allowed it and most of them are responsible for perpetuating it through to it’s inevitable end, a team like Jersey struggling financially again to begin with saddled with Kovy, a team like Minni that is barely above water now saddled with their two, a team like Vancouver that abeit has achieved a level of financial stability by making such deep runs into the playoffs but have a goalie contact that’s an albatross now, the Isles are still uncovering themselves from bad contracts including Rick’s (but Rick’s bad contract is a different kind of epic fail altogether) and the list goes on. My point really was that a lot of the bad decisions are a function of the league itself and those dynamics which I believe can be tied most closely to how owners act as owners . I make is that when owners act like imbeciles their franchise suffers. Sure the NFL has “parity” but typically year-in and year-out there are the same core teams that do well and the same core teams that do poorly. There isn’t a balance of power no matter how much the league tries to BS. Is it easier for a medocre team to succeed while still being medocre, yes but lets face it, you basically know that every year New England and the Giants and Green Bay and SF and so on are going to be competative if they stay healthy and Miami and Detroit and Oakland and so on are going to suffer. When they decide to invest in scouting and talent building and putting a competitive team on the field they’ll rise and some other team with a tight fisted owner will drop their team to the bottom. When the good teams get old or run into too many injuries they’ll fall to the bottom and rebuild. That’s NO different than MLB and yet the MLB has the completely opposite economic structure with salaries. Everyone likes to point out though that NFL teams typically don’t struggle financially compared to their other league counterparts, whch is true, the league on the whole generates much higher revenues and the salary economics are prohibitative to a team failing financially but the spread between the rich and the not as rich is the same basic spread that exists in MLB and NHL, the line of demarkation for profit just changes in the scale but the breath of the scale is essentially the same, a handful of teams are profit heavy and buch of teams in the middle that are about the same proportionate distance from the top teams across all leagues and a few teams at the bottom that are a similar proportionate distance from the top teams across all leagues. the NFL in’t more bundled into middle teams than any other league, they jsut do a good job as a league and within ownership because essentially everyone turns a profit not to bitch about the rich teams comparred to the poor teams. The owners in the NHL though LOVE to talk about market size and impact as a starting point, not on ownership decisions. I could pull out the numbers and be a math geek on this I just dont’ have the time or patience to back up my point right now.


About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny:
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