In a letter to the players, NHLPA chief Donald Fehr raised concerns that the NHL’s new 50-50 offer may not be quite what it seems.
The league, Fehr says, wants to “clarify” hockey-related revenue. And since the players would receive 50 percent of that HRR, it’s rather important they know how HRR is defined.
“It is not immediately clear what [‘clarify’] means, but so far all of [the NHL’s] ideas in this regard have had the effect of reducing HRR, and thereby lowering salaries,” wrote Fehr.
Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa echoed Fehr’s sentiments.
“I think people have to be cautious about this 50/50 split,” Bieksa said Tuesday, as per canucksarmy.com. “This is, as far as I’m concerned, a PR gimmick: it sounds great on paper but everyone should be asking themselves ‘50/50 of what?’ Everything’s relative, it sounds great but if there’s omissions by them from what’s included in HRR then we’re making 45 per cent.
“You have to be careful when you hear the words ‘fifty-fifty’. I don’t really like it. For them it’s a PR gimmick.”
Suffice to say, if the NHL wants to significantly alter the definition of HRR, there could be a significant problem. Because while the 50-50 split is in line with leagues like the NBA and NFL – and, as such, sounds fair to the fans – each league defines revenue differently.
Economist Andrew Zimbalist explains.
“You have to be very cautious when you start doing cross-league comparisons because the definition of revenue and even the definition of compensation differs from league to league,” Zimbalist told The Star-Ledger. “To simply believe, as [commissioner Gary Bettman] seems to believe, the other leagues went down to 50-50 and that’s where [the NHL] needs to be is not a very persuasive argument.”
In addition, if the NHL wants to dramatically re-define HRR, the NHLPA may in turn request its own changes to the formula. For example, it may demand the players get a share of expansion/relocation fees. They didn’t under the last CBA, and with potential expansion/relocation to places like Toronto, Quebec City and Seattle, the league could be looking at a windfall in the neighborhood of $1 billion.