Consider the plight of the Canadiens if the NHL has it’s way through the new Collective Bargaining process bans the so called “compliance buyout”, one of the three remaining major issues preventing final settlement.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and the majority of the league’s governors are adamantly opposed to any form of provision that would allow teams to buy out unwanted contracts without salary cap repercussion. The players believe that buyouts are a necessary tool in order for teams to comply with the new reduced salary cap.
The Player’s Association has already signed off on a fourteen percent salary cap reduction, down from 70.3 million dollars to 60 million. That leaves about one third of the league including the Canadiens in an accounting box. These teams have spent right up the salary cap ceiling as was their right under the old CBA. Their salary cap is coming down by just over ten million dollars but the league has given them no mechanism that would allow teams to extricate themselves from inflated existing contracts.
For the 2013-14 season when the full effect of the new salary cap kicks in, the Canadiens already have sixteen players under contract totalling 60.6 million dollars, already 600 thousand over the proposed new cap ceiling. NHL rosters are twenty-three which means between now and next September they’ll have to sign seven players with no available money to do it. It leaves Marc Bergevin in the Catch-22 situation of needing to fill out the remaining roster spots with no cap money with which to do it
Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle will be entering the final year of their long term contracts next season. Their combined cap hit is 11.6 million dollars. An ability to take those contracts off the payroll through an unrestricted buyout would give Bergevin the eleven million dollars spare change he needs to fill out his roster, including the signing P.K. Subban.
Fully one third of the league, those who spent up to the salary cap are facing the same problem to one degree or another. I think it’s safe to assume that Geoff Molson and most of the rest of that group are quietly cheering for Donald Fehr and the players to win out on an issue that places them between a rock and a hard place. Unfortunately, those teams are the financially stable NHL teams and the league’s basketcases are running the lockout.