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Free Agency has killed all major sports!

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09-09-2004, 04:30 PM
  #1
membleypeg
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Free Agency has killed all major sports!

Free Agency has been the curse that has killed all major sports over the past 30 years. The NHL should take a stand among major sports, and raise the age of free agency (for this league I would recommend an age of 35). This one measure would get rid of the need for salary caps, luxury taxes, and any other other monetary reforms.

The only valid arguement to raising the age of free agency, is that the owners would lowball players salaries. To avoid this situation, I would recommend that the owners be forced (after getting this major concession) to provide a minimum player salary of $500,000 dollars/year with a COLA clause. This salary would become manditory if the player played one or 82 games per year (no more Marc Fleury B.S. from the owners in limiting games played). Players should also receive a substantial pension accruement from owners (to be managed by the NHLPA) to offset the small window of opportunity in career length. Players should still maintain the salary excalator of a qualifying offer however, arbitrated salaries should be removed.

Improvements in salary should be incentive based with firm dollars in place for positive team standings during the regular season and the Stanley cup playoffs.

I would also recommend that owners be forced to publicly post financial statements. The fans should have the right to know if an owner is making huge profits and yet, raising ticket prices. The players also have a right to know what the players on other teams are making (thus aiding in the ability to hold out with public support in the case of injustice).

These moves would provide the following benefits:

1) Teams would be able to maintain their players during their productive years without the threat of rich owners stealing them away.
2) Teams that made the best hockey decisions including drafting, trading, and developing would reap the most rewards.
3) Fans would be able to identify with players that were not revolving from constant turnover.
4) High end salaries would shrink, providing fans with the chance for reduced ticket prices. Maybe the blue collar workers could afford tickets instead of the corporate audience at most stadiums.
5) Players would not take as many nights off during the regular season, as a money escalator for performance would prevent this action.
6) A stable environment for all teams to succeed would be in place. This would stop the NHL from developing a Montreal Expo's type fiasco that has occurred in baseball.

I really believe that this type of structure would work to the benefit of the fans. It would also put the decision making for the game back in the hands of hockey people, not lawyers and bean counters.

Feel free to flame away.


Last edited by membleypeg: 09-09-2004 at 04:39 PM. Reason: left in words at end that should have been edited in first addition.
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Old
09-09-2004, 05:54 PM
  #2
thinkwild
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Regarding the 6 benefits you outline, I like your thinking. But if UFAs only happened for 35 year olds, I guess the thinking is that then they will save money, but its also possible they could just shift that planned spending to their RFAs which will now become more valuable. And the agents will know it.

But its great you acknowledge how much more powerful restricting free agency is with regards to meeting fan needs than a salary cap would be

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09-09-2004, 06:08 PM
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I actually believe the opposite, if you don't limit free agency it will improve the league, and the current problem in the NHL is largely due to having the UFA too old. It's created too much of a bidding war in general for the teams that have money to spend, and in many cases players get signed above a reasonable market value (Holik, Kasparitis, Lapointe).

Glen Sather once said that if the NHL had yearly free agency, all contracts lasted only 1 year, that would solve a lot of the issues relating to salaries in the league. I agree with that, but you would have to do something so that RFA's wouldn't get a yearly 10% raise. Players would earn their keep this way, and while a team could offer a big single season salary, they would have to do it on a yearly basis to keep the UFA's attention, and more likely the players wouldn't move on a yearly basis where the money is, instead they would find a place they wanted to stay and perhaps sign below or at market value.

It'd take more commitment from the players and the owners oddly enough. A committment from the player to perform and earn his salary, and a committment from the ownership to pay accordingly.

It'd be a step backwards for the NHLPA because it'd hurt their security, especially in the case of injury.

Couple yearly contracts and a signing limit before the season begins, and I think you'd see a lot more cost certainty than there has been the past 10 years. This is just one of the ideas that I think could work, and are not that far fetched.

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09-09-2004, 06:13 PM
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Sorry, got slightly off topic on my own agenda there. Why I think the yearly contracts and increasing free agency would work is because you'd have less players who are locked into long term deals that they no longer earn. Players like Brian Savage, John LeClair, and others who are making millions more than they really earn at this point would be making less, but it would not bring down the average salary of the league necessarily.

The long wait for free agency as it is now creates a mood where the teams have to spend prime money for players who are perhaps past their prime. Once a player reaches UFA age, they are paid on reputation and history, not current production. If the free agency age was younger, there would be less history and reputation to pay on, so you would see players more closely earning what they make.

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09-09-2004, 06:25 PM
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But the under 31 year olds dont move now, the only ones that do are the ones are the ones over 31. And the only teams that should be buying these players are teams that are already winning, and have a several year window of success ahead, not teams that are developing.

Savage, Leclair, Holik, Kasparaitus, Lapointe, how was anyone hurt other than the teams that signed them? How was Tampa Bay prevented from winning from it. Earlier in the year every contraction thread included Tampa Bay. Success sure changes things. And Tampa Bay didnt need to buy it. And they werent disadvantaged because other teams thought they could.

Ottawa fans would love to have Chara locked up in a long term contract like we had Hossa last time.

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09-09-2004, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkwild
But the under 31 year olds dont move now, the only ones that do are the ones are the ones over 31. And the only teams that should be bnuying thee players are teams that are already winning, not teams that are developing.

Savage, Leclair, Holik, Kasparaitus, Lapointe, how was anyone hurt other than the teams that signed them? How was Tampa Bay prevented from winning from it. Earlier in the year every contraction thread included Tampa Bay. Success sure change things. And they didnt need to buy it. And they werent disadvantaged because opther teams thought they could.

Ottawa fans would love to have Chara locked up in a long term contract like we had Hossa last time.
Not sure what you mean by the Under 31 year olds moving. They don't move because they aren't UFA's.

How has it hurt anyone other than the teams signing those guys? It sets the standard and it is part of the standard that is set for the market. If a guy like Kasparitis gets $X million, then a guy who is compareable will ask for the same amount, and a guy slightly less valuable will ask for slightly less. Those bad contract indirectly raise the bar for all the players. If LeClair wasn't making as much as he does, do you think that Guerin & Tkachuk would have the contracts they do? I don't.

Tampa Bay & Dallas are two teams that have broke into the past 10 years of Cup winners producing 3 different champs in 8 years. Both Dallas & Tampa Bay are great teams, so it didn't affect them directly, but it affects the league as a whole. Keep in mind that more than winning a Cup happens in the NHL on a yearly basis, the Cup winner may be the only thing that counts in some theory, but it's not the only thing that happens.

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