The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Wrong Battle

The National Hockey League Players Association has been through some very rocky weather as of late. Of course, that's like saying the Grand Canyon was suffering from "a bit of erosion," but that's another story.

At this point, I really and honestly believe that Bob Goodenow and company are fighting the wrong battle. It's not a question anymore of "if" there will be a salary cap when the NHL resumes play; it's a matter of "how much."

So, instead of foregoing the inevitable and praying the courts find in their favor, now is the time to fight the battle they should have fought back in 1994: unrestricted free agency.

Instead of demanding a proposal without a salary cap, put forth one that puts free agency at five seasons of service. 10 games on the roster per season, 50 games over 5 seasons (or 5 games/25 over 5 for goalies), and any player can become an unrestricted free agent.

Believe it or not, it wouldn't be that difficult of a sell to the players as a whole. The concept is this: if the league is going to force restrictions on the upper end of salaries, players should then have the choice to play where they want. The younger guys will be able to get away from the (horrendous) team that drafted them, and the older guys will still be able to go play where they want - and get the money they want.

A cap or no cap, as long as there are team owners out there who don't mind throwing money at players, there'll be millionaire hockey players in the NHL. When that's the case, it all basically comes down to where you want to play.

Do you want to stay in Florida, or do you yearn for the bright lights of Broadway? Do you love the golf on the courses in Phoenix, or would you rather play to a full house in Philly? Do you want the intensity for the game you'll find in T.O., or would you rather ply your wares for fans in the O.C.?

The press will more than likely consider a proposal like this to be "cutting their losses." And the NHL - well, who knows if the NHL will even consider it? But it'll be a heck of a lot more tempting to them if you agree to a revenue-based cap.

Even if it means that they (the owners) might end up the losers in the long run.