Gary Bettman was dreaming if he believed the NHL players’ association would accept a proposal that amounted to a roundabout route through a pretty neighborhood toward the same destination. What he viewed as a significant step actually looked like him sidestepping the same issues.
To review, the players receive 57 percent of revenues under a collective bargaining agreement that expires Sept. 15. Bettman initially offered them 43 percent of revenues while asking for a 22 percent salary rollback in a new CBA. The NHLPA wasted little time rejecting the offer because, well, it was laughable.
Bettman came back this week with an offer that would bring the two sides closer to a 50-50 split on revenue and eliminate the rollback. It looked appealing until he included a provision lowering the salary cap from $70.2 million to $58 million next season. Ultimately, players would still wind up with roughly $360 million less in the salary pool.
The NHL insisted on the salary cap being tethered directly to revenue seven years ago, but now is shooting for a fixed cap that would increase to $71 million over the life of the CBA. Owners believe players should help fund struggling franchises while players insist struggling teams would be fine if owners properly shared profits with one another.
All the talk about rollbacks, revenue sharing, salary caps and other endless blather still leads me to this question: Is there anything more nauseating than billionaires fighting with millionaires over money?
• Al Monaco’s firing as Williamsville South’s golf and basketball coach has many tentacles, but one far-reaching effect will be fewer good coaches. A growing number are questioning whether it’s worth the aggravation and the stipend. Who gets hurt? The kids, who wind up playing for inferior replacements. It’s another reason parents, if they want to help their children, should watch their kids from afar.
• I haven’t bumped into my friend and die-hard Bills fan, Tommy Pietras, to make our annual over-under wager on Buffalo’s win total for the season. Tommy, the number is eight, and I’m taking the under. Being the nice guy that I am, I’ll even allow you to include the Bills’ preseason win total.
• Chew on these numbers: Jim Kelly was the NFL’s highest-paid player in 1987 with a base salary of $1.1 million. When adjusted for inflation, it would be $2.17 million today. Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney has the highest base salary this season at $19 million, or $9.6 million in 1987.
• Performance-enhancing drugs have been discussed so many times over the past decade that people have become numb. In the past few weeks, Lance Armstrong was stripped of seven Tour de France titles and Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were banned from baseball for 50 games. Armstrong’s charity had a spike in donations after he was punished. The two suspensions were greeted mostly with yawns.