I have posted two plans so far, and they both work quite well. Here's a 3rd, piggybacking off the previous two. The union is dead as we know it. They have lost this battle. The owners hold all the cards at this point, and I certainly hope they have the marbles to stick to their guns and not cave in and come to a CBA. They have the ability to break the union right now, and they are stupid if they don't do it. Now, operating under the assumption that the NHL will break the union, and that 80's style hockey is what they are shooting for, here's the plan. 1. Contract down to 20 teams. 2. Cap in place. The dollar numbers are irrelevant. Cost certainty and salary cap tied to revenue, with revenue sharing for the league. Thus the revenue for a big market team wouldn't allow them to spend more than a small market team. 3. Eliminate the two line pass rule and reinstitute the tag up rule. 4. Make goalie pads smaller and keep this strictly enforced. 5. Sever ties with the AHL and create a new league...NHL2 if you will. The ten teams that are contracted would become NHL2 teams. The difference between the Thrashers of today and the Thrashers of NHL2 would be negligible in terms of talent. 6. Create an NHLDL - NHL Developmental League. 20 teams, each made up half from NHL prospects, half from NHL2 prospects with direct ties to teams. 7. Eliminate the Draft completely. Teams sign youth players instead. This way, NHL2 teams can compete with NHL teams if they choose. It would create a system like NCAA football and scholarship restrictions. Sure, everyone would want to play for the NHL teams, but the NHL teams would be restricted to the number of roster spots they have available on their portion of the NHLDL team. Thus, great players would wind up on NHL2 teams. 8. Establish a relegation system, similar to what they do in European soccer. Bottom two NHL teams are relegated to the NHL2. Top two NHL2 teams are brought up to the NHL. 9. The cap would be constant for both the NHL and NHL2. 10. NHL2 teams would have the advantage of being broken up into two geographically determined divisions that do not play each other until the playoffs. This would save on travel costs. Revenue sharing would also go to the NHL2 western teams (if they need it) to cover their additional travel costs. What would this do? 1. Brings back firewagon hockey. 2. Creates a compromise between not eliminating jobs and allowing the NHL owners to plan their finances and know they will break even at least. 3. Contracts the league without losing major markets. Any team contracted would still have an NHL2 team, a team with a good shot at being promoted to the NHL within a season or two. 4. Creates excitement. A late-season match between two cellar dwellers hoping to avoid relegation would be as exciting as Habs-Leafs. 5. Keeps salaries under control. 6. Eliminates rookies from being paid outrageous salaries (like Jani Rita making over a mil a year). They would have to prove themselves in the NHLDL before being offered the bucks. Plus, the cellar dwellers would still have a better chance at getting them, since they would be the teams that would have an open roster spot in the NHL for the players. 7. Opens up the possibility for a 40 team NHL Europe (ten teams each in Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czechoslovakia...all with mixed rosters) that would be a semi-feeder system for the NHL and NHL2. It would get Europeans involved with a particular NHL team because that city's team would be directly tied to an NHL or NHL2 team.