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10-01-2003, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by lowetide
Great post speeds. I don't think the NHL will move the draft age up, I remember many year ago Linseman (I think it was) sued the NHL over just this issue. I very much doubt they'll open up that can of worms.

Also, I'd like to see a drop dead date where the contracts are dumpable, ala the NFL. For instance, Cory Cross wasjust signed, but if he really has lost another step, there's no buyout, the Oilers just burn the paper.

Never happen, but God I love that NFL rule.
Lot of great thoughts in this thread. Sometimes when you come in late on a thread, you don't know where to start and who to reply to, so Lowetide I'm going to pick on you...

w.r.t. Linseman case, my quick and dirty google search tells me that the case you may be thinking about was actually Linseman v. the WHA. Unfortunately, being in 1977, it's quite a bit harder to get your hands on the text of the decision, but the WHA/NHL distinction is important because (I believe) the WHA just imposed a rule that limited Linseman's ability to participate in the league, while the NHL may have had a collective bargaining agreement in place that specified their higher draft age at the time. If this is the case, the fact that the NHL subsequently lowered the draft age to 18 would be explainable by the NHL's desire not to be at a competitive disadvantage for players moreso than an anti-trust fear they may have had. Bottom line is that I think it is pretty clear that if the NHLPA and NHL mutually agreed to raise the draft age and enshrining this rule in the CBA, I think it would be untouchable. So, if they wanted, the NHLPA and NHL could include a higher draft age in their discussions. The Maurice Clarett thread on the Business of Hockey Board discusses draft age restrictions. (It took a while, but the guys on that board finally clued me in that the one and only basis of Clarett's claim is that the NFL collective agreement is silent on draft age).

w.r.t to guaranteed contracts, I think that this is the sleeper foundation issue that the NHL should start the ball rolling with. The only reason that the NHLPA has guaranteed contracts is that they got the NHL to agreed to adopt a standard form contract in the 1994 CBA that had this guaranteed payment language. Evidently, the NHL thought that some other concession, perhaps something like a higher UFA age was worth agreeing to this. If I was the NHL, I would go the other way, lower the UFA age, and make players more "dumpable" without tying the noose around the team of having to pay the player's salary anyway.

If you've read my posts before, you may have noted my rants about the fact that the NHL should let the market work for them, not against them. This occurs if there is more liquidity in the player market, which in my view, becomes self-reinforcing and assists teams in "just saying no" to unreasonable salary demands. As an analogy, if you miss a bus, but there's another bus right around the corner, you're not too sad. If you miss a bus, but there are no buses in sight, that's when you start to start to worry more about making sure that you don't miss the first bus. This is where I think the NHL teams have been - too scared not to sign their RFAs, make sure they qualify, etc. In reality, the NHL teams hold the valuable card - the keys to a dream job that is 1000 of times more attractive than a typical player's next best choice of jobs.

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