Following his team's media day Wednesday, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs discussed some NHL labor issues, including the investigation into the seven-year $28.5 million contract signed by center Marc Savard and the state of the league heading toward the 2012 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement.
Jacobs stood by the Savard contract but also understands why the league investigated, saying he didn’t feel his team was singled out.
“I think they threw out a wide net and tried to be as inclusive as possible of everyone that they thought had extended contracts,” the longtime Bruins owner and chairman of the NHL’s board of governors said. “Whether they thought it was fair or not, I don't know, but I didn't feel there was any problem with it. If we have to stand scrutiny, that's what we have to do.”
Jacobs understood the NHL’s stance against the Ilya Kovalchuk contract and why the league went to an arbitrator to have Kovalchuk's original deal with the New Jersey Devils voided.
“I think all the contracts have to be looked at that way, and at least from Boston's standpoint, I think the commissioner made a value judgment on this and I think clearly the arbitrator agreed on the Kovalchuk one,” Jacobs said. “It was a very expensive situation, though.”
Are the Bruins going to be more careful when signing players to long-term contracts in the future?
“I think Boston is going to be a lot more sensitive to that,” Jacobs promised. “Boston's going to be very aware of the circumvention areas, and there are a lot of things that can go into that terminology, circumvention. We're sensitive to it.”
With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire in 2012, Jacobs acknowledged that the new CBA needs to be more precise.
“Wording will definitely be clearer,” Jacobs said. “With our contracts everybody looks for loopholes. People study it and they make a career of it and they live and die with that. We have to close whatever loopholes we see because a whole bunch of new ones come up. But I think we can live within it and we can get a more balanced ground than we have right now.”
Jacobs believes the NHL has prospered under the current CBA but recognizes that there are still downfalls. Many teams are suffering at the gate and have other problems.
“The league is healthier now than it was before the current CBA," Jacobs said. “But going forward we have to have every team on stronger financial ground than they are today. Boston needs to be and I think there are a lot of others as well that need to be.”
Struggling franchises, an unstable players' union and hard economic times have fans and media worried that the NHL could have another work stoppage in 2012. Jacobs didn’t rule out such a scenario but sounded confident that a new agreement will be reached.
"I think something should get done and I hope something will get done without a work stoppage,” he said.