September 03, 2010
As an amendment to the Collective Bargaining Agreement dealing with long-term contracts is finalized, there's been a raging debate over whether the NHLPA comes out a winner or loser.
I don't believe the NHLPA had any intention of opening up the CBA to address the structure of long-term contracts before it needed to in the next CBA negotiation.
The ill-defined rules were allowing players like Johan Franzen(notes) to remain with the Detroit Red Wings, Roberto Luongo(notes) to remain with the Vancouver Canucks and Marian Hossa(notes) to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks to win his first Stanley Cup. They were vague enough where the NHL could only wag a finger and say "don't do that" to teams circumventing the cap.
That is, until the Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) 17-year, $102 million contract raised the bar on structural absurdity, gave the NHL a contract to attack and resulted in a landmark arbitration victory for the League. With momentum, the NHL managed to compel the NHLPA to do something no labor union should want to do in a non-crisis situation: Engage in a round of collective bargaining under a valid CBA, from a defensive posture. The fact that the NHLPA had to sit at that table and define the previously undefined is, to me, a defeat.
However, sometimes you start with crap and end with fertilizer. The contracts of Kovalchuk, Hossa, Luongo and Marc Savard(notes) as safe, according to multiple sources. While long-term contracts have now been defined as five or more years under the proposed amendments, a player like Drew Doughty(notes) (20) could still sign a 15-year deal tonight and have it work under the new CBA rules.The NHL hasn't touched that kind of contract ... yet.
TSN is reporting the details of the CBA amendment, and what you get out of the tangled mess of numbers and years are a few concessions from the players and a win for the NHL in rendering years after age 40 meaningless for a cap hit at, say, age 32.
First: For long-term contracts extending beyond the age of 40, the contract's average annual value for the years up to and including 40, are calculated by dividing total value in those years by the number of years up to and including 40. Then for the years covering ages 41 and beyond, the cap charge in each year is equal to the value of the contract in that year.
Secondly, for long-term contracts that include years in which the player is 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40; the amount used for purposes of calculating his average annual value is a minimum of $1 million in each of those years (even if his actual compensation is less during those seasons).
(You're correct, it's too late on a Friday to process that.)
So those are the details at the moment, with the NHL and NHLPA working into the night. Among the details yet to be determined: Any punitive damages for the Devils and Kamp Kovalchuk for their previous attempt at circumvention.