My Solution to the NHL Lockout

My Solution to the NHL Lockout

Last Friday, you indulged me on a rant about which side is
to blame for the NHL lockout.
As players and owners are meeting face-to-face
without their lead council
on Tuesday in a last ditch effort to save this
season, perhaps you are willing to follow me down the rabbit hole a bit

The key divisive issue is the league’s owners want or need
to cut costs immediately. The players association would accept less than the
current 57% split of revenues, but in order to move to the proposed 50-50 model
in the first year of the new collective bargaining agreement, it would require
the union accept salary rollbacks across the board, which we know they are
unwilling to do. Up to now, they have been unable to find a way to bridge the

Even if the players are going to continue their hard-line
stance against a rollback on contracts that are already signed – as well they
should – there is still a way to give both parties what they want. That’s
cost-certainty for the owners, yet every penny promised to the players.

Agree to temporarily remove the salary cap, and along with
it, the salary floor.

There is little evidence teams in major hockey markets such
as Philadelphia, New York, Toronto, etc. are hurting. In certain cases, their
profits might not be exactly where they would like, but that should be solved
by a simple redistribution of the revenue.

What the lockout really seems to be about are franchises in
smaller hockey markets that are legitimately struggling, in some cases losing
money. Even with a 50-50 split and increased revenue sharing, they still may
need to reduce salaries right away to remain financially competitive.

By reaching a compromise that takes the cap out of the
picture for the first few years of the new deal – let’s say four for the sake
of being concrete – owners get the best of both worlds. Those who agreed to pay
their stars fair market value can continue to do so, even take on another club’s
bad contract if they so choose, running their franchise at any cost without
impunity. Organizations that are having trouble paying the bills can dump
salaries, fielding a few teams on the cheap to make up for the last few years
of operating in the red, running their franchise at any cost without impunity.

With the high draft picks that would result in some cases
from teams tanking for a few years, along with the league’s revenues being distributed
more evenly, several of these franchises would likely be more viable by the end
of the new CBA. In other words, maybe we can avoid this mess again further down
the road.

Spending would never get out of control for big market
teams, either, because they would eventually be required to get under the
future cap. It would force those front offices to remain fiscally responsible and budget accordingly so that
contracts were coming off the books at the right time.

As far as the players are concerned, there is theoretically no limit on how much a
player could make during the grace period.

Obviously an estimated cap figure would need to be known in
advance of its implementation, but I’m sure we can handle this.

I admit I am no economist, nor a lawyer, so maybe there is
some key financial or legal ingredient that would serve as a major stumbling
block to my plan. It also does nothing to address the various contracting
issues on the table, which may be a bigger hurdle than we would hope. I think it deserve points for creativity though, which is
what it’s going to take to solve the labor battle at this stage, as opposed to
some contrived meeting between players and owners.

The league is not taking the players seriously, employees
who signed their deals fair and square, with moves like a “make whole provision”
that doesn’t actually make contracts whole. However, the owners are not taking
each other seriously, either, by ignoring the fact that there are haves and there
are have-nots among their ranks.

The only way to give the union what they want, and bring
hockey back to the people, is to honor those contracts. The only way I can
think of to accomplish that while simultaneously cutting costs universally for all
franchises is to allow each one to spend as they see fit for awhile.

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Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.