If you’re looking for Reason No. 3,421 why the current collective bargaining agreement isn’t working, look no further than yesterday’s signing of Jarret Stoll by the Los Angeles Kings.
Let’s get this straight: Stoll emerges as a legitimate two-way threat by scoring 68 points in 2005-06. Then gets just seven more points than that over the next two injury-plagued seasons combined and this merits a $1.3-million raise from a team that doesn’t even owe him anything because he has never played for it?
Evidently, it does and Stoll has the owner-friendly CBA to thank for it.
Back when the owners were supposedly putting their feet on the throats of their employees three years ago, they made a horrible mistake. And, as usual, its foundation was rooted in selfishness.
The large-market teams were dragged kicking and screaming into revenue sharing, but they placed a huge caveat on their generosity. They said the poor guys could have their money, but only if they spent to a minimum level, and the salary floor was born.
That floor is $40.7 million for this season and the Kings, woefully under the minimum, had no problem overpaying Stoll in order to get there. So they gave him a $14-million deal over the next four seasons, but will have the added cachet of having Rachel Hunter attend a good number of their home games.
Instead of giving teams the option of opting out of revenue sharing if they didn’t spend to the floor, the owners instead decided to force unnecessary spending on their colleagues. Even deposed NHL Players’ Association czar Bob Goodenow told them not to do it before the mutiny, but they did it anyway.
And today we’re in quite a fine mess, aren’t we? The large-market teams are now spending more money in salaries and revenue-sharing payments than they were prior to the lockout and the small-market teams are spending more in salaries than they were four years ago.
And all the while, players such as Stoll are making out like bandits. Most are just being ridiculously overpaid, but Stoll is the first who is overpaid in order to help a team get up to the salary cap floor.
When NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly visits the 30 NHL teams this fall, it will make for an interesting set of meetings. He’ll ask the players whether they have any desire to opt out of the CBA.
After a couple of seconds of silence, they’ll all explode into a fit of laughter.
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