The 2004-2005 lockout was awful, but it looked even uglier on the Stanley Cup. As we reach day Pacioretty (67) of this heartfelt, doing-it-for-the-betterment-of-the-game lockout, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the last lockout. I know you can’t wait to hit the read article button and read more crap about the lockout, but it is interesting to see how their stubbornness eight years ago impacts us today.

I’ve looked back at various stories, and I can’t pinpoint one source that "broke" the details of each one, so the following stats/points are from numerous outlets, like TSN, SI, ESPN, Sportsnet, Globe and Mail, Edmonton Journal, and many others that I didn’t use, but likely had the same information.

July 2004....The NHL wanted a hard cap of $35 million and 50/50 split of revenue. NHLPA was adamantly opposed to a cap, and offered a luxury tax on teams going over $50 million…. The NHL conducted the Levitt Report that stated owners were losing $273 million and the players were making 76% of revenue. Bob Goodenow, of course, disputed the report and claiming owners were hiding money. Sound familiar?

The two sides didn’t negotiate very much once the lockout officially began on Sept 15th. We didn’t see any real talks until December.

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Dec 2004.. The players were getting restless and they put forth what was deemed a stunning proposal. They offered a 24% rollback on salaries, concession on rookie salaries and arbitration. There was also an odd luxury tax component on teams going over $45 million, and if I read correctly, it said that teams would be penalized 20% for every dollar over $45 million. That wasn’t much of a deterrent. So a team could have went over the Cap by $5 million and only be penalized $1 million. The rich teams would have loved that.

The NHLPA felt these were significant moves, but the NHL didn’t agree. Bettman did, however, state it was a "good move in the right direction," but it wasn’t enough. He wanted a hard cap, and offered 54% of revenue.

**Goodenow was adamant that once a cap was in place the revenue split would go down. He was technically correct. The split actually went up for the last few years of the past CBA, 57%, but now eight years later the NHL wants that split to go down.**

There were no real offers in January, and in February each side offered their "final" offer.

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Feb, 2005...The final offers came in early February, around the 5th and 6th. The NHL offered a $42.5 salary cap, with no set limit on the player’s share of revenue. They softened their stance on the 54% being the max. The NHLPA countered with a $49 million cap. Many felt they’d meet in the middle at $45 milion and play. Neither side was willing to budge and Bettman officially cancelled the season February 16th.

Wow, most guy fans really got the shaft that year. Within 48 hours you had to deal with the pressure of Valentine’s Day and then found out your favourite sport was cancelled. Tough times for sure.


In April of 2007, Bruce Dowbiggin released the book; Money Players: The amazing rize and fall of Bob Goodenow and the NHL Players Assocation. If you like reading about stories of the lockout and Goodenow, I recommend reading it.

In the book, Dowbiggin has a great story about a secret meeting at Niagara Falls between Ted Saskin and Bill Daly. The story goes that Saskin reportedly said the NHLPA would accept a hard cap, if salaries were not linked to revenues. He told Daly the NHLPA would accept a $52 million cap. Daly countered with $40 million and no linkage.

It is amazing to me how little faith either side had in their ability to grow league revenues. Both sides were so set on winning, they clearly didn’t have someone breakdown the potential growth of the NHL. Could you imagine how irate the players would be today if the NHL had accepted their $52 million cap?

2006…Cap was $39 million.
2007… $44 million.
2008… $50.3 million
2009… $56.7 million
2010… $56.8 million
2011… $59.4 million
2012… $64.3 million
2013…It was proposed to be $70.2 million.

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The teams would have lost in the first few yeas, but they’d have cleaned up in the last four years. I wonder how much the NHL regrets not accepting that deal, if indeed it was official.

Kent Wilson broke down the latest NHLPA’s offer here, and while some of it looks great, I’m sure the NHL will have some concerns. Mainly that in years two through five of the deal the players’ share in dollars may not be less than the previous season. That is essentially guaranteeing money. You can’t have salaries linked to revenues, but have a guarantee that if revenues fall the players share doesn’t.

There are some good "compromises" in the offer, but the NHL will not accept it as is. No chance.


Yesterday, the Toronto Star reported that the NHL and NHLPA had found some common ground on a few minor issues. These changes will not make or break the new CBA, but I like that they could be part of a new landscape.

No longer will July 1st be Canada Day and free agency day. The two sides have agreed to have it start sometime in mid-to-late June. They suggested as early as 48-hours after the Cup final, but I’m guessing they will look at having at least five days between handing out the Cup and the start of over-paying players free agency.

I like this for a few reasons.

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Canada Day should be about spending time with your family and celebrating our wonderful county, not finding out who your NHL team signed.

More importantly it could lead to more movement at the draft. Every year we hear about potential deals at the draft, and they rarely pan out, mainly because teams feel they might be able to acquire someone in free agency. If free agency starts before the draft, then teams would know what they have, and how they missed out on, and would be more inclined to make a move on draft day. The more player movement the more exciting the league is for the fans.

The other alleged agreement involved allowing cap space to be part of trades. I’m a bit surprised the NHLPA agreed to this, because it could lead to more player moves. As long as there is no clause that allows teams to go over the cap, I’m all for this. More trades, means more debates, more analysis and more excitement.

Until I hear the NHL and NHLPA have reached an actual agreement, I won’t be getting too excited over any offer, however, hearing that minor changes like cap space being part of trades and free agency in June are likely, means we have finally seen a few positives in this ridiculous lockout. 


  • book¡e

    Long ago, I decided that I would enjoy casino’s a hell of a lot more if I made my goal to lose money as opposed to my previous goal of winning money. I always leave the casino satisfied now.

    I think I am going to transfer my love of hockey to a new passion for contract negotiation techniques.

    Wow, this feels great all of the sudden! Ohhh, the NHLPA just sent out a new offer, I await the reponse of the NHL with great anticipation. I have both Crosby and Bill Daly on my NHL/NHLPA Fantasy Professional Hockey Negotiation Team.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    It’s time to set up a rogue league. One where there are only 24-26 teams in places that can actually get snow at least once a year or more. Players don’t get guaranteed money. Ticket prices are only allowed to boost a teams revenue by 10%. And Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr are not permitted!

  • Nabs99

    I’m just wondering how trading cap space would actually work? I’m guessing the only reason a team would trade for cap space is so that they don’t go over the cap the rest of the league is playing to. Would you be buying the right to have a higher cap for your team? This would defeat the purpose of a cap. I don’t get it.

  • Nabs99

    is that actually on the cup? if so that should have been enough to shame the players and owners into geting something done before the cba expired, but here we are.