The American Hockey League plans to unveil the 2015-16 schedule sometime this month — potentially as soon as Aug. 26 — but, the league and the Professional Hockey Players Association still haven’t finalized a collective bargaining agreement.
According to Maxime Fortunus, a PHPA player representative, the discussions have “been really good and cordial.” But, “both sides know the playoff pool is something that has to be fixed in order to be fair for both sides.”
So, what does that mean?
Players contracts are based on the regular season, while pay during the Calder Cup playoffs comes from the prior mentioned “playoff pool.”
In the prior CBA, the AHL payed $325,000 into the playoff pool for the first round. That number was then dispersed to the players on each of the teams to qualify for the postseason.
The number varies for the second round and beyond. Here’s the direct text from the prior CBA.
Based upon regular season ticket prices, the AHL Member Clubs and the PHPA shall share in the proceeds of the playoffs for the benefit of the playoff pool. The AHL shall pay into the playoff pool $325,000 as full payment for first round games, a minimum of $700,000 or 32% of the net gate receipts (after tax) up to $2,500,000 of net gate receipt revenue from rounds two, three and four. In the event that the net gate receipt revenue from rounds two, three and four exceeds $2,500,000 the AHL shall pay into the playoff pool 32.5% of that revenue.
Essentially, AHL players received 32 percent of postseason revenue. Finding a fair share for the next CBA is important to the PHPA.
“I think the league is going to give us a proposal on different ideas soon,” Fortunus said in a text message.
It will also be interesting to see how the new playoff format, not just the payout pool, impacts the CBA.
During the 2015-16 season, five new California teams — all relocated from other AHL cities — will play 68 games, while the rest of the league will play 76. With that discrepancy in games played, the 2016 Calder Cup playoffs will be determined by points percentage — essentially points earned divided by total points available.
“It’s concerning, but not too concerning,” AHL president and CEO Dave Andrews said in an interview earlier this summer.
The good news is it isn’t too late in the process, and the CBA isn’t expected to disrupt any buildup to the season.
Consider the prior CBA, which expired this summer, was ratified on Oct. 8, 2010 — opening night of the 2010 season.