Under the current CBA, NHL players are supposed to receive 50 percent of hockey-related revenues, with the owners getting the other half. Occasionally, however, the two sides can’t agree how to add up the revenue. Such is the case, apparently, when it comes to the New York Islanders and their cable TV deal.
When Charles Wang bought the Islanders in 2000 for $187 million, $30 million of the purchase price was allocated to the team’s lucrative cable television contract, which belongs to MSG. The disagreement between the Islanders and the NHLPA is how the amortization (non-cash expense) should be treated when counting the team’s revenue for purposes of calculating the league’s salary cap. This season players are entitled to 50% of hockey-related revenue, according to the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners that took effect last season.
Based the CBA, the Islanders claim they should be allowed to reduce their annual revenue by the amount of the annual amortization of the cable contract (a few million dollars a year). The NHLPA believes the Islanders should not be able to lower their revenue–and thus the amount of revenue that the players are entitled to–with a paper expense because the team is getting the full amount of the cable fee (over $20 million this season).
Again, this happens from time to time. For example, with the $25 million payment the Phoenix Coyotes received from the City of Glendale during the 2010-11 season. The union wanted that counted as HRR; the NHL didn’t. That dispute went to arbitration, according to the Globe and Mail.
As for this case, sources tell Forbes the Isles are likely to prevail.
We’re sure you can’t wait to find out for real.