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NHL lockout has become matter of principle

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NHL lockout has become matter of principle

To the players, the NHL lockout has become more about principle than about percentages.

It’s about owners honoring the contracts under which the players agreed to play.

“I hear a lot of stuff in the media that the players are greedy and they’re getting paid good money anyways,” Capitals left wing and resident lockout commentator Jason Chimera said Friday.

“But when you sign your name to a contract and you have set dollars – I don’t care where you are in life – some jobs you can sue the guy for not paying you [even though you have] a legal, binding contract. And the owners seem to think it’s OK not to honor the contracts.”

According to NHLPA union chief Don Fehr, under the 50-50 proposal issued by owners on Tuesday, players would be forced to have 12.3 percent of their pay placed in an escrow account.

In the case of Chimera, who makes $1.75 million, that means placing $215,250 into an escrow account in which he may never see a return. If you’re Alex Ovechkin and making $9 million, you’re talking about placing more than $1.1 million in escrow.

Perhaps that’s why Fehr’s final proposal to the owner on Thursday was so simplistic: Honor the current contracts and in all future contracts we’ll go to a 50-50 split on all hockey-related revenue.

“We said we’d go to 50-50 next year, just honor the contracts,” Chimera said. “We’re not asking for more, we’re giving up a lot to get this going. A billion dollars is not just a little chunk of change. We gave them three different options which all went down to 50-50

“So when I hear people say they can’t back the players, we’re not greedy people. We don’t want more. We want what we signed on our contracts. We just want in dollar terms what our contracts say they’re worth.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly estimated that if the owners agreed to honor the players’ current contracts it would result in a 56 or 57 percent share of the total revenue in Year 1 and estimated it would result in $650 million above the players’ current share.

With that proposal clearly out of the question, let’s examine what the players offered in their first counter proposal on Thursday, compared to the 50-50 proposal made by the owners two days before. Remember, this is with an annual growth rate of 5 percent, which is below the average of 7.1 over the past seven seasons:

NHLPA Offer
 
     League revenues    Players share    Percentage       
2011-12    $3.303 billion    $1.883 billion    57.0 percent       
2012-13    $3.468 billion    $1.920 billion    55.4 percent       
2013-14    $3.642 billion    $1,980 billion    54.4 percent       
2014-15    $3.824 billion    $2.060 billion    53.9 percent       
2015-16    $4.015 billion    $2.060 billion    51.3 percent       
2016-17    $4.216 billion    $2.108 billion    50.0 percent       
                       
Total (2012-17)    $19.164 billion    $10.128 billion    52.8 percent    
 
NHL offer                      
 League revenues         Players share         Percentage       
2011-12    $3.303 billion    $1.883 billion         57.0 percent       
2012-13    $3.468 billion    $1.734 billion         50 percent       
2013-14    $3.642 billion    $1.821 billion         50 percent       
2014-15    $3.824 billion    $1.912 billion         50 percent       
2015-16    $4.015 billion    $2.007 billion         50 percent       
2016-17    $4.216 billion    $2.108 billion         50 percent       
                            
Total (2012-17)    $19.164 billion    $9.582 billion         50 percent    

Chimera smiled nervously when asked if he was optimistic the season could be saved.

“Optimistic is kind of a loose term,” he said. “It seems the boundaries are there to make a deal. If they said yes to honoring our contracts it could probably get done in six hours.

"We don’t feel like we have to take a step back to take a step forward. We feel we can both take steps forward and we’ll both benefit from it.”

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Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

DALLAS — Hours after being named head coach of the New York Islanders on Thursday, Barry Trotz made his first public comments since stepping down in Washington earlier in the week.

And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.

“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”

“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”

Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.

A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.

When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.

When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.

In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.

Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL's fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he's already reached out to the Islanders' star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1. 

And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.

It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.

Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don't think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”

In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).

“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.”

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The NHL salary cap numbers are in, what does it mean for the Caps?

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The NHL salary cap numbers are in, what does it mean for the Caps?

The NHL released the salary cap range for the 2018-19 season on Thursday. That sound you hear is the general managers frantically typing numbers into adding machines to figure out which of their players they can afford and which they are going to have to let walk.

The cap ceiling will rise from last year's $75 million all the way up to $79.5 million with the cap floor set at $58.8 million.

So what does this mean for the Capitals?

Here's a look at the team's pending free agents:

Unrestricted free agents: Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Graovac, Jakub Jerabek, Michal Kempny, Anthony Peluso, Zach Sill, Wayne Simpson

Restricted free agents: Riley Barber, Madison Bowey, Travis Boyd, Adam Carlson, Philipp Grubauer, Tim McGauley, Liam O'Brien, Devante Smith-Pelly, Tom Wilson

We will not know exactly who will make the roster, so to project how much money the Caps will have to work with, let's assume Nathan Walker makes the team and Shane Gersich goes to the AHL. That will give the Caps a little less than $14.8 million with which to work.

Considering the team will need to use about half of that number if not more to re-sign Carlson, that's not a whole lot to work with.

Is $7 million enough to re-sign Beagle, Kempny, Bowey, Smith-Pelly and Wilson? Probably not and that does not even account for prospects who will try to compete for the NHL roster such as Barber and Boyd.

Here's what the cap ceiling tells us:

  • The team's entire offseason will depend on if the team can re-sign Carlson and for how much.
  • Carlson's cap hit last season was just under $4 million. A $4.5 million increase in the salary cap ceiling doesn't mean much when Carlson is going to get a raise of $3 million or more.
  • Grubauer will almost certainly be traded because he is an asset and because there won't be enough money for the team to commit $1.5 million or more to the backup goalie like they did last season.
  • If Carlson returns, fan favorite Beagle has almost certainly played his last game as a Cap. Everyone wants him back, but he would have to take a severe discount for the Caps to fit him and even then, he would be taking away a roster spot from a young prospect ready to make the jump to the NHL.

Free agency opens July 1.

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