Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Brief History of Pro Hockey Work Stoppages
Duration: 10 days: between April 1st and April 11th, 1992. 30 regular season games were cancelled, but ultimately made up.
Result: Fundamentally altered the relationship between the NHL and NHLPA. The owners finally realized that they needed to take the players seriously. The players won major concessions in marketing rights, an increased revenue share from the playoffs, and changes to the free agency system. In order to generate additional revenue the regular season was expanded from 80 to 84 games.
Duration: From October 1, 1994 to January 11, 1995. In the end, a total of 468 games, including the All-Star game, were lost.
Result: There was growing concern about the viability of the small market teams. The league wanted to implement a luxury tax, which the players saw as a salary cap—something they were vehemently against. The players, recognizing the struggles of small market teams, argued for revenue sharing—transferring money from large market to small market teams.
Ultimately, the lockout ended when several large market teams relinquised the luxury tax as an ultimatum. Salary caps for rookies and two-way contracts were implemented. The season was cut from 84 to 82 games. Several teams moved as a result of this work stoppage—Quebec to Colorado, Winnipeg to Phoenix, and Hartford to Carolina.
Duration: The entire 2004-05 season was cancelled.
Result: Real financial issues forced the owners to demand, and ultimately obtain, a salary cap. Players gave up significant financial benefits, including a 24% rollback of salaries. However, the players did receive a guaranteed fixed percentage of league revenues each season. As a result, a new financial structure for the business of hockey was created. Successful? League revenue has grown from $2 billion in 2003-04 to $3.3 billion in 2011-12.
Result: The fourth major work stoppage in professional hockey in the past 20 years.