This is just something I'm throwing out off the top of my head, an idea that's crystallized because of some of the things that have been in the news recently. I suspect even the most ardent NHLPA "free market or death" type thinker would acknowledge that the business plans of the various owners are different, and that different realities exist in different marketplaces. To whit, the Phoenix team seems to be in some trouble in part because of things that haven't materialized around the area, such as planned real estate development etc. The business plan (liberal use of the word "plan", I know) there seemed to call for a successful hockey team in a brand new arena to somehow drive up the attractiveness of real estate in the area. You can contrast that with places like St. Louis and Washington, where the teams (to my eye anyway), have essentially been run as hobbies. You've also got places where the teams are run as businesses, with the revenues generated by the team expected to cover the costs of operating it. Surely, even the biggest NHLPA supporter could acknowledge that when arbitration surveys a marketplace that includes teams run as hobbies, teams where the team is intended to fuel a boom in real estate and teams run as stand-alone businesses, the results of contracts in the first two places may drive up contracts to prices that are harder to justify when the team is being run as a stand-alone business. This seems pretty evident to me. The flipside of that should be, that supporters of the owners understand that a cap set at the level of the lowest common denominator, with limited revenue sharing, like the owners are proposing isn't really fair to the players. It lets some teams rake in absurd profits and reduces the incentive for owners to spend on player recruitment development, leaving aside some of the more controversial arguments about competitive balance. The question I have for the board involves looking for a third way. What would be the effect of deleting reference to players on other teams, or limiting it to teams of similar payrolls, and focusing more on where the player falls within his team. In order to equalize between markets, players could be grouped somehow, and any money above that paid to the lowest player in the grouping could be pooled and split amongst those players. That would seem to me to remove the unfairness of a player being tied to a lower revenue/payroll club, while at the same time removing the unfairness of comparable contracts done by guys with pie in the sky business plans. The incentive is still there for each player to push for as much as he can get, although it's been lessened. You might reduce the UFA age by a year in exchange for agreeing to this, and proceed without a cap. Does this begin to address the problems? Would it interest you if you were Bettman or Goodenow?