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ESPN seems to be shifting away from siding w/ Bettman

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Old
02-10-2005, 09:40 AM
  #1
True Blue
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ESPN seems to be shifting away from siding w/ Bettman

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?id=1988026

It basically just summarizes what we have been discussing.

"If those numbers look familiar it's because they are. It is basically the same deal the league has insisted upon from the beginning, but with some smoke and mirrors installed so it looks like the players don't even trust their own proposal to work.

Bettman, disingenuous to the end, said he'd already received a call from one owner who called the offer "generous" and may have been chiding Bettman for freelancing.

Maybe it was Carolina owner Peter Karmanos, whose idea of the right deal seems to involve the players showing up at the rink in leg irons and carrying picks and shovels."


This next one (the last line) tells of one of Bettman's faults:

""We didn't seem to be able to come up with a middle or common ground," Bettman said.

That's because he never looked."

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02-10-2005, 09:51 AM
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I read that and was a little perturbed by the fact that certain accusations (like the last comment, for example) could equally be levelled at Goodenow! It did seem a little like one man's tirade from a biased viewpoint, but maybe that's just me!

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02-10-2005, 10:06 AM
  #3
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Originally Posted by Titanium
I read that and was a little perturbed by the fact that certain accusations (like the last comment, for example) could equally be levelled at Goodenow! It did seem a little like one man's tirade from a biased viewpoint, but maybe that's just me!
Not really. Goodenow and the players have made concessions. Bettman has made none. The NHLPA has provided, at a minimum, a platform from which negotiations could be moved forward. Bettman has been offering nothing but the same thing, just wrapped with a different string over and over again.

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02-10-2005, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by True Blue
Not really. Goodenow and the players have made concessions. Bettman has made none. The NHLPA has provided, at a minimum, a platform from which negotiations could be moved forward. Bettman has been offering nothing but the same thing, just wrapped with a different string over and over again.
First off I think the league could have made some concessions around free agency and stayed away from eliminating Group V and Group VI free agency in their proposals...

However, the NHLPA has not really shown much interest in defining what the losses are. They've done just a rudimentary review of the numbers, and haven't shown much interest in calling the league's bluff and pushing for an independent audit. The reason being (at least IMO) is that they have no real strong interest in pushing down salaries.

The proposal they put forward initially was shocking in it's initial review, but when you consider how much of the league will be free agents come this summer, there's considerable question as to how much of that 24% would be eaten back up in just one season. While the league's proposal yesterday was strategic rather than an honest attempt, it does in some ways call the NHLPA's bluff, that their proposal would significantly decrease salaries over a longer period.

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02-10-2005, 10:59 AM
  #5
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Originally Posted by Fish
there's considerable question as to how much of that 24% would be eaten back up in just one season.
That question can only be raised in conjunction with the belief that the owners would go right back to spending $5m on the Marty Lapointe's of the world. If that is the case, then whose fault is it? If the players have offered to bring the salaries back to the level of a decade ago, and the owners then choose to get out of control AGAIN, why should the players be the ones who are paying? Owners complain that salaries have become out of control. And, yes, they are right. HOWEVER, if offered a redo, how can the owners blame anyone but themselves?
Essentially the players are offering a redo and the owners are saying "You know what? It does not matter. I am WILLINGLY going to go out and blow it all over again and make the same mistakes all over again".
The 24% is the redo. It should be then up to the owners to see that the same mistakes are not made again.

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02-10-2005, 11:26 AM
  #6
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Who's fault would it be if the teams resigned thoes UFA's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
First off I think the league could have made some concessions around free agency and stayed away from eliminating Group V and Group VI free agency in their proposals...

However, the NHLPA has not really shown much interest in defining what the losses are. They've done just a rudimentary review of the numbers, and haven't shown much interest in calling the league's bluff and pushing for an independent audit. The reason being (at least IMO) is that they have no real strong interest in pushing down salaries.

The proposal they put forward initially was shocking in it's initial review, but when you consider how much of the league will be free agents come this summer, there's considerable question as to how much of that 24% would be eaten back up in just one season. While the league's proposal yesterday was strategic rather than an honest attempt, it does in some ways call the NHLPA's bluff, that their proposal would significantly decrease salaries over a longer period.
at old rates? Common on! What are the players suppose to do, say I'm sorry, but I just gave you 24% of my salary last year and I can't possibly accept this offer, it has to be lower.
The owners create the market. If they can't control their spending then what should happen is what happens in every other business, they either get sold, or go out of business. This is pure non sense that it is the players responsibility.

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02-10-2005, 11:54 AM
  #7
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eh face it, both sides haven't been fair

i think there's some validity to the claims that the players haven't actively come up with another offer and it seems to be the league who continues to come up with offers (though in reality, all those offers are pretty much the same thing). I think the players should be more proactive in bringing new ideas to the table....BUT, we also don't know what they've talked about in those meetings. maybe the players are presenting a lot of ideas to the league and feel like an entire proposal isn't necessary based on what the talks have been about.

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02-10-2005, 12:17 PM
  #8
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Originally Posted by ATLANTARANGER
at old rates? Common on! What are the players suppose to do, say I'm sorry, but I just gave you 24% of my salary last year and I can't possibly accept this offer, it has to be lower.
The owners create the market. If they can't control their spending then what should happen is what happens in every other business, they either get sold, or go out of business. This is pure non sense that it is the players responsibility.
I think they could have done several things...they could have said okay NHL, you claim you're losing this money lets prove it. They could ask why revenue sharing won't work...they could say lets come up with a much more agressive luxury tax...there are numerous things they could do.

Some owners create the market, and the league is trying to affect that by putting in a salary cap. What this is about is solving the problem that the owners created, but constricting what owners can do...whatever way you look at it, the players are going to get less money, if the owners would be more "responsible" about their spending the result would be less money for players. I don't see this is punishing the players, it's just one way of controlling it...what the players want is the bigger markets to determine how things should be done, the league wants the weaker markets to determine it.

As always the solution lies somewhere in the middle...something neither side has shown a willingness to address.

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02-10-2005, 12:20 PM
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Fish...

24% is a lot for many of the current players who in a couple years will be approaching 35 and likely won't be getting that money back; as well as others, who may be in their twilight. The youth may be fine in that proposal, but that's about it.

I believe there's an interest in getting salaries down a bit, but I do agree that the NHLPA's proposal did not go far enough at getting to that point. Specifically, the tax structure was a joke. However, no matter what the tax structure, Bettman would have countered with a hard cap, otherwise he would've said, nice, and here's the tax structure we believe would work.

As for an independent audit...that would be a huge undertaking and if it was done a while ago, there's a chance it doesn't get complete in time to start a season this year, if that's what the goal would be. And I'd think owners would fight it too, as it would be an expense and many of them do not have audits done as part of the normal course of business.

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02-10-2005, 01:44 PM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
As always the solution lies somewhere in the middle...something neither side has shown a willingness to address.

True enough, but I want to say that the players have shown much more willingness. People tend to forget that the players are NOT for a luxury tax or a rollback. If they could have it their way, the system would stay the same. The middle ground IS a luxury tax. Everytime people act like the players want the luxury tax and rollback, I just want to do this --->

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02-10-2005, 02:16 PM
  #11
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Originally Posted by Tawnos
True enough, but I want to say that the players have shown much more willingness. People tend to forget that the players are NOT for a luxury tax or a rollback. If they could have it their way, the system would stay the same. The middle ground IS a luxury tax. Everytime people act like the players want the luxury tax and rollback, I just want to do this --->
I don't think I ever suggested they *wanted* those things, just that the offerings aren't nearly as big as they seem. The 24% roll-back applies only to those contracts in existence today, and for arbitration purposes...after that it's back to free market. Even if you just used the rate from the past 10 years, that would be eaten up in close to two years...seems hardly a concession, more a diversion.

The luxury tax is a potential workable solution, but so is a cap with bonuses and profit sharing. Do you think owners want to share their profits? The reality as always is that the solution lies somewhere in between...

I think the league has been taking a "I want it all" approach, and I think the players have tried to provide some token movement to move to the center...but to be honest...I don't really care at this point who has moved more, we're just as far from a solution on both sides as we've ever been.

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02-10-2005, 02:38 PM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
The 24% roll-back applies only to those contracts in existence today, and for arbitration purposes...after that it's back to free market. Even if you just used the rate from the past 10 years, that would be eaten up in close to two years...seems hardly a concession, more a diversion.
Can we think about this logically? Are you telling me that after all of this wrangling, after all of the owners' collective bluster (presumably through Bettman, after all they are united, aren't they?) about how the system needs to be changed, after all of the talk about how hockey cannot go on with the status quo, that they are going to go right back into the spending habits that caused them to come to this point? Does this not make sense to anyone else? Essentially you are telling me that after the players set salaries to a level that existed a decade ago, it would take the owners two years to wreck all of this?
This is insane. The owners fork the $$$ over for contracts. They are complaining about how much salaries the players are making. Now, their issue is that it would take 2 years for the OWNERS (themselves) to undo the players concession? How is that logical? The owners complain about players salaries, then they get a do-over, then they go out and resume spending $5m on the Marty Lapointe's of the world?
Is it just me or if that was to happen then to heck with the owners. At that point they deserve to be driven out of business.

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02-10-2005, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by True Blue
Can we think about this logically? Are you telling me that after all of this wrangling, after all of the owners' collective bluster (presumably through Bettman, after all they are united, aren't they?) about how the system needs to be changed, after all of the talk about how hockey cannot go on with the status quo, that they are going to go right back into the spending habits that caused them to come to this point? Does this not make sense to anyone else? Essentially you are telling me that after the players set salaries to a level that existed a decade ago, it would take the owners two years to wreck all of this?
This is insane. The owners fork the $$$ over for contracts. They are complaining about how much salaries the players are making. Now, their issue is that it would take 2 years for the OWNERS (themselves) to undo the players concession? How is that logical? The owners complain about players salaries, then they get a do-over, then they go out and resume spending $5m on the Marty Lapointe's of the world?
Is it just me or if that was to happen then to heck with the owners. At that point they deserve to be driven out of business.
I think we all know that the 24% rollback wont work. Yea, it's great for the Nashville's, the Edmonton's, the Sabres.....right now. But the big market teams, who dont care how much they spend, will just keep inflating salaries again. As you said, they aren't losing money so what do they care? Now those small market teams like Edmonton, Buffalo, ect, are going to have to start spending more to catch up to the level of competition that these big market teams have to offer. BAM, we are back to original salaries in no time. You know it'll happen and I know it'll happen. It's just a viscious cycle that will continue to occur unless the playing fields are equalled and the big market teams are forced by a cap to keep their payroll within a limit so that the little guy can still compete. You cant get an entire group of people to control their spending if some are wealthier than others. It's just the concept of scarcity. If the price of gold and diamonds was immediately reduced 24%, the price would jump back to normal in a hot second. There is a limited amount of rescources and an unlimited desire for the good.

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02-10-2005, 03:24 PM
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Let me respond this way...how many times have you heard the defense of the Rangers spending in the terms "they're playing within the rules"? How often do you think you'll hear that going forward if there's little disincentive to spend money?

The Rangers, and a handful of teams like them have far less pressure on them to curb expenditure than the majority of teams in the league. They make their money (despite the reports on Rangers losses), because their revenue bases are exponentially larger than those in other markets.

This lockout is about the small markets asserting their will on the league. There are sufficient numbers within the league that don't believe they will survive and they're pushing for cost relief...

If there's little disincentive coming out of these CBA negotiations, then the big market teams are once again going to "play by the rules" and we'll see the salaries heading back to where they were in short order.

Now I'm still not saying a cap is the only solution, but there needs to be much stronger disincentives to spending, and the ultimate result is that the players are going to end up with considerably less in terms of income under any successful scheme (in the eyes of the league).

My assessment of the players association position is they care more for the top end contracts than they do for the number of members in their organization. They rightly or wrongly believe that there are still markets out there to which struggling teams can more to...they would also like to continue to allow teams to spend as much as they're able, and I don't blame them for that, just highlighting it as their motivation.

What leads me to this belief is the unwillingness of the players association to push on the revenue sharing plans. Ultimately if you balanced out the revenues you could have a higher cap across the league...but that of course would also imply that the NHLPA was willing to accept a cap at some level (even if it was higher than is being proposed today).

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02-10-2005, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
What leads me to this belief is the unwillingness of the players association to push on the revenue sharing plans.
Unwillingness of the players? How about unwillingness of Bettman to even consider it? The players have brought it up several times and Bettman has made it known that league-wide revenue sharing is not an option.

"It's just a viscious cycle that will continue to occur unless the playing fields are equalled and the big market teams are forced by a cap to keep their payroll within a limit so that the little guy can still compete."

Two things. First off, this is the insanity that I am talking about. Your vicous cycle consists of owners complaining about players salaries, but then going out and doing the same thing over and over again. How can the players he held responsible for that?
Second, unless every single team in the league is forced to have a budget that is on a level of Carolina, without league-wide revenue sharing you can never level the playing field. ONLY if every budget in the league is made with the Carolina Hurricanes in mind can you level the field without revenue sharing. But that is about as bad for hockey as it gets. How can every team's budget be the same as that of a team that plays in a non-existent hockey market and cannot sell out half of their own buidling?

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02-10-2005, 04:05 PM
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Tawnos...

fact is, the players did offer the rollback and have offered a luxury tax scheme. True that the amount offered in terms of the luxury tax is not stringent enough, but just as the league can go from $31 million cap to a range in the mid-30s and likely higher, the players would be willing to look at a cap structure that's more onerous. Problem is, the League hasn't come back with its idea of a tax structure since it's stuck on a hard cap.

As Fish said, I think the players have tried a bit harder to find a middle ground, albeit not enough, but the league's had one mantra (which is a hard cap and they'll get that through breaking the union, impasse and possibly replacement players).

Fish...I agree with what you believe this lockout is about...I wish the League would position it that way too so I can get a sense that they too recognize the problems. They too often cite losses, which a near-majority of those losses come from three teams (NYR, CHI and STL) that can afford them. It's not about losses as much as it's about Edmonton not being able to keep a decent player past the age of 25; or Calgary not being able to sign some players in order to keep Iginla (I believe in those $224 million in purported losses, they make money).

Understanding that a hard cap would definitely work for the League overall, it really puts a heck of a lot more money into the Rangers' pockets, and I don't see the fans benefitting from that extra money, and that does bother me somewhat. To me, the tax helps those smaller teams, who would be able to re-sign players, sign UFAs, and potentially earn more money.

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02-10-2005, 04:59 PM
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I think you pretty much summed up my position, but I do want to highlight that I don't give the players that much credit on their proposal...in this case "more willing" is strictly a relative term. The players are of course interested in retaining as much free market as they can get, and I'm coming to the realization that they believed they could outlast the owners (which may yet come to pass).

The NHLPA is coming across as an organization that cares more about the big money earners than it does about the rank and file...the NHL seems to be more interested in avoiding the revenue sharing issue and going with lowest common denominator. Kind of like watching an American election...we see more extreme positions, and the middle ground is left unrepresented.

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02-10-2005, 05:20 PM
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You do realize that practically the entire planet understands the financial disaster of the NHL yet this board seems to have the opinion that Bettman is to blame and the owners are all liars. :lol

 
Old
02-10-2005, 05:57 PM
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Not sure why you say that nasty...

I think we all recognize the NHL's financial problems. We also recognize that Bettman, in his 10+ years at the helm, has not marketed the product too well to bring in additional revenues. We also recognize that he expanded to places like Nashville, which noone thinks made too much sense. He also didn't make changes to the game that would make the game better and more marketable. Those issues have caused part of the problem we're seeing now.

Also, not many believe the NHL lost as much as it says. Further, Chicago, St. Louis and the Rangers represent approximately 40% of those total losses. I don't think anyone out there is crying that these guys aren't financially stable or viable. There are thoughts that revenues are understated and costs overstated - I can't say 100% for sure, but I'd venture to guess that's true.

The owners are blamed because it is them who drove up player costs, and now they're all collectively crying they did it.

Finally, the NHL is a $2+ billion business, hardly an un-followed sport. The players need to make concessions for the sport to continue. I think we all recognize that. Some believe there should be some semblance of a free market, albeit, as Fish once aptly put, effectively puts a cap somewhere if the tax is high enough. Others just think it should be a hard cap in the range suggested (which makes the Rangers, Detroit, Philly and others even more profitable). But whatever it is, it must be a give and take. The players did offer to give up a good deal (again, Bobby Holik will give up nearly $5 million - sorry that he's being overpaid, but to anyone, that's a lot of money). Of course they need to give up more. And at the same token, the owners need to give something, as opposed to take everything away.

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02-10-2005, 06:29 PM
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Great posts guys. Unfortunately, no one of NHL importance is reading our posts. I really don't understand the total lack of commitment to good faith and compromise in this situation. I realize both sides share the responsibility, but the only folks who seem to care are we fans, and we were removed from the equation long ago. From what I have seen of Bettman in these negotiations, I truly believe there never was the possibility of a settlement! This has been a huge hand of Texas hold em gone horribly bad. Nothing good will come of this unless a couple of teams fold in the abyss of this season! Well , at least they haven't cheapened the Stanley cup in the name of profit!

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02-10-2005, 06:46 PM
  #21
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Originally Posted by NYFAN
Great posts guys. Unfortunately, no one of NHL importance is reading our posts. I really don't understand the total lack of commitment to good faith and compromise in this situation. I realize both sides share the responsibility, but the only folks who seem to care are we fans, and we were removed from the equation long ago. From what I have seen of Bettman in these negotiations, I truly believe there never was the possibility of a settlement! This has been a huge hand of Texas hold em gone horribly bad. Nothing good will come of this unless a couple of teams fold in the abyss of this season! Well , at least they haven't cheapened the Stanley cup in the name of profit!
I see the lack of commitment from the owners side as being a reflection of how bad things are for the weakest franchises...even at the levels they're proposing it's going to be tough for some of them. On the players side, they're simply trying to get the best deal possible...and they may believe that is to be had with the owners caving, or the courts helping them out.

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02-10-2005, 07:30 PM
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I understand what you are saying, but to have taken it this far, the owners should be ashamed of themselves, Bettman never should have been given his power to veto at all costs. It only exposes the owners more that the majority can be overruled by the minority. I believe these actions have set the league back quite a bit. They won't recover as well as baseball has, even in Canada, I think resentments will linger on for a long time. The players definitely had more to lose by the cancellation of the season. There are players whose careers are on the downward side of the hill now, who will be gone if this lockout lasts another season, and players who will lose alot if there are 2 seasons lost, like Iginla, Jagr,Kolzig,etc. Those playing years cannot be returned! Whatever skill they lose over the term of the lockout is a shame, and we will never know what their full potential and career would have been! The only thing the owners lose is money, something that can easily be replaced long term!

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02-10-2005, 08:45 PM
  #23
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Bettman needed that...

I'd guess more than 1/2 of the teams would play off a variation of the players' proposal. It's the bottom seven or eight that Bettman's protecting (ones that are primed for contraction or moving), in addition to a couple that just want things changed.

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02-10-2005, 10:38 PM
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletch
I'd guess more than 1/2 of the teams would play off a variation of the players' proposal. It's the bottom seven or eight that Bettman's protecting (ones that are primed for contraction or moving), in addition to a couple that just want things changed.
Yep, and probably half the players would play under a cap...amazing that we probably have more than a concensus on both sides, but not in the leadership.

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02-11-2005, 02:01 AM
  #25
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Right now I think that it's more about saving face and principle's than about philosophical differances. I mean unless these guys are morons they realize that they are going to have to give in to something but their egos wont let them. No way does Goodenow or Linden or any NHLPA for that matter, want to have his face on live TV looking like the NHL's b#$$@ for holding out a year and then accepting a cap. The same goes for the NHL. No f'in way does Bettman want to speak into 30 mics and explain why he let this lockout continue and then just gave into revenue sharing. No side wants to take that type of shot to the ego.

At this point I think the best and easiest solution would be to have a slight rollback with a VERY strict luxury tax system so that the players get their wish, and then the league has some type of right to institute a cap after a certain amount of years if some criteria isnt met. In my mind that would be the best situation for both parties.

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