With the NHL and NHLPA negotiating a new CBA, The Bread Man decided to share some opinions about NHL owners’ bread. (I’m sorry.)
“I have concerns not only about the health of players and their families but also about the long term prosperity of the NHL,” Artemi Panarin wrote. “For nearly two decades, the Players have protected the owners income with escrow, including throughout this pandemic crisis, even as owners’ equity continues to grow exponentially. It is time to fix the escrow.”
After signing a seven-year, $81.5 million contract over the summer, Panarin set career highs in goals (32), assists (63), and points (95) and could be a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP.
Panarin added that players “cannot report to camp to resume play without already having an agreement in place.”
The full statement reads:
I am very much looking forward to the playoffs with the New York Rangers. I have concerns not only about the health of players and their families but also about the long term prosperity of the NHL. For nearly two decades, the Players have protected the owners income with escrow, including throughout this pandemic crisis, even as owners’ equity continues to grow exponentially. It is time to fix the escrow. We as players cannot report to camp to resume play without already having an agreement in place. We are all in this together. Also, I know the process for selection of the Hub Cities is ongoing. I sincerely wish that my teammates and I could train and play games at MSG and bring employment and economic opportunity safely back to New York City for Ranger fans and all New Yorkers.
Escrow has long been a controversial topic among NHL players, including with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.
“Not saying there was a phone call, but they wanted Game 7,” Ovechkin said while playing the Rangers in the 2013 playoffs. “For ratings. You know, lockout, escrow, league must make profit.”
Ryan Kesler echoed Panarin’s comments saying “we’re done paying [the owners] debts.”
It’s about time….. the owners need to understand we’re done paying their debts….. you run your team into the ground it’s on you …. if there’s a pandemic it’s on the owners… figure it out it’s not a free ride @NHL @NHLPA pic.twitter.com/9qPpWvYiQE
— Ryan Kesler (@Ryan_Kesler) June 25, 2020
According to the CBC, this is how escrow works.
Players and owners split the NHL’s “hockey-related revenue” 50/50 (players get their share in salaries). At the end of the playoffs every year, both sides get together and count up how much money the NHL made that season. They then use that number to estimate how much it’ll make the next season (a five percent bump is a typical ballpark guess). The salary cap, which is designed to make sure the players get 50 percent of the revenue and no more, is then set based on that number.
But because it’s impossible to predict exactly how much revenue will come in, a percentage of every player’s paycheque is held in escrow until the money is counted at the end of the season (it isn’t always the same, but 15 percent is a good ballpark number). If the NHL does really well and exceeds the revenue projection by a significant amount, all that money is returned to the players. But if it doesn’t, the owners get to keep however much they need to ensure they end up with exactly 50 percent of the revenue.
According to that 2019 story, the NHL has kept at least 10 percent of players’ salaries over the last six seasons, meaning that a player such as Ovechkin making $10 million a season loses over $1 million of his actual salary.
Panarin’s comments appear to signal that the players will use their leverage to resume the season during the coronavirus pandemic to try and end or minimize escrow payments in a new CBA.
Get that bread, Artemi!
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