Not another NHL lockout, please

Andrew Kicmol, Editor in Chief

I love the sport of hockey. Once again, the NHL is facing a potential labor dispute that could result in another lockout. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will run out in September 2019.

Players like Connor McDavid have said: “I genuinely believe that both sides want to keep playing. We want to play, and the owners want to keep making money.”

However, I don’t feel good about the ability of the owners and players to work together to create a new CBA.

The last lockout that happened was in the 2012-2013 season, it ended with hasty negotations that left the players on the short end of a deal to get at least a portion of the NHL season in.

Like most people, I bemoan the millions of dollars that professional athletes make. It just doesn’t seem fair to get paid that much to play a sport.

But if you really look at their situation and look at what those millions get spent on and how much they don’t actually get to keep, then NHL players really aren’t compensated fairly for their services.

Players have to pay for homes, families, food, and destroy their bodies for what really is a short career. Whereas someone in another profession is expected to work until they are at least 65, age 35 is old for an NHL player.

Like everyone, NHL players have state and federal taxes deducted from their income. They also face deductions the rest of us don’t – agent fees and an escrow tax.

Ryan Prete of Bloomberg BNA, describes the escrow tax this way:

“Throughout the regular season, part of each athlete’s salary is deducted and set aside to ensure the league receives at least 50 percent of the total sport’s revenue. If at the season’s end the league has less than 50 percent, it takes a necessary amount from the escrow pool before dealing back the remainder to players, which is then taxed.”

Basically, players get a pay reduction if the league doesn’t make its 50 percent, and they aren’t happy about it.

“At the end of each season to be told that they’re going to take back 10 or 12 or 15 or sometimes 20 percent of your contract? I think that’s a kick you know where,” said Jonathan Towes captain of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press wrote: “The ultimate goal is to grow business big enough that the escrow is reduced to zero and contracts are worth exactly as they’re written.”

And of course it comes back to the Olympics. The NHL chose not to send its players to the Winter Olympics this past February. With NHL players, the Olympics has great name recognition and a lot of fans enjoy watching NHL players duke it out for the gold medal.

Gary Bettman commissioner of the NHL did offer a three-year CBA extension in exchange for players going to the Olympics, but the escrow tax was too much of a sticking point for players to agree.

The 2018 season will begin shortly.

The Washington Capitals will begin their Stanley Cup defense (the Caps are my favorite team, so I had to plug them as champs) all while a possible labor dispute looms over the league.

Owners and the league will always have the upper hand, and if they complain at all about money being taken out of their pockets, well then to put it politely, they can shove a sock it. I personally side with the players, even if it means a full season lockout in 2019-2020. I think the players should be paid a fair wage, even it is in the millions.