The View From Wisconsin

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

Friday, May 06, 2005

What Will Happen

Sometime over the next two weeks, it will finally happen.

The NHL and the NHLPA will finally come to some sort of a centrist agreement – although heavily tilted in the direction of the league – and end this whole mess.

The players, now that they have given in on the one key issue of the owners – "Cost Certainty" – will have the rightful demand that the league engage in meaningful "Revenue Sharing" – and not just of monies from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

A tax threshold will be set, as will a cap level. Those numbers will be arbitrary in 2005-06, but will be a moving percentage beyond that. Tax revenues will be shared with low-revenue clubs – but with restrictions.

Other agreements will be made, along with the use of AHL rules from 2004-05, a committee that will look into goaltender pads and other possible rule changes, and the entry-level system.

The league will set up the whole proposal for a Board of Governor's meeting, to be held before June 1. Bettman will get the small-market "hawks" behind the plan, telling them they've gotten what they wanted in "cost certainty." The players will meet and ratify this less-than-perfect agreement, with Goodenow telling them that "it's the best we can do under the circumstance."

The two sides will sign the agreement, and an unusual announcement will be made: in conjunction with Hockey Canada and USA Hockey, the NHL and NHLPA will jointly sponsor two exhibition games between the players of the recently-completed IIHF World Championship squads for Canada and the US. The purpose of the games? To raise money for charity, and to promote goodwill to hockey fans in the US and Canada.

One of the games will be played Friday night, June 10, at Toronto's Air Canada Centre; the second will be played Sunday, June 12, in the afternoon at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. During Sunday's game, the members of the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning will be formally introduced and the Stanley Cup will be presented to them – along with the ceremonial raising of the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship banner.

The proceeds from the two games will be split between Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, NHL Charities and the NHLPA's Goals and Dreams Foundation. The NHL will share revenues with NBC/ESPN and CBC/TSN for the two games, with the NHL using the funds to pay the players for their appearance. Between periods of the game on Friday, the NHL will announce the draft order for the 2005 draft, and the "lottery" for the top 10 selections. Saturday, the league will hold its draft via conference call, with the announcement of the picks to be presented before the game on Sunday.

If it doesn't happen, there won't be hockey in 2005-06. In fact, the NHL will be dead before the end of the year, because the ensuing lawsuits will devour the league and its players.