The NHL provided written notice to the NHLPA that it intends to change and/or end the current CBA, an NHLPA spokesperson confirmed. The CBA, which expires on Sept. 15, requires that either the NHL or the union send notice to the other 120 days before the agreement ends. Friday is 120 days out from the expiration of the CBA. While the notice by the NHL to the players union is procedural, it is a sign that the league is not willing to proceed under the terms of the current CBA, which was agreed to after the '04-05 NHL lockout.
The NHLPA could have also provided the league with notice, but did not do so, one source said. The league informed the NHLPA it was going to send notice yesterday and the union received the written notice, as required under the expiring deal, today. Another source said the NHL has provided notice prior to today.
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The NHL is unlike the three other major U.S. pro leagues in that it is not known if the league or the players will seek major economic or other changes to the current system, which could in turn lead to a work stoppage. The NFL and NBA made clear, years in advance of the expirations of their agreements, that the owners were seeking major economic changes, which led to lockouts that were later settled in '11. In the case of MLB, the league and the players also let it be known publicly that neither side was seeking the kind of major changes that could mean a work stoppage. The MLB and MLBPA agreed to a new labor deal last year without a lockout or strike. NHLPA outside counsel Steve Fehr, during a speech before the Sports Lawyers Association on Saturday, said he did not know if the NHL would be seeking major concessions from the players or not, but if the owners were seeking such concessions, the players are not inclined to make them. NHL Associate Counsel Jessica Berman, who also spoke at the event on Saturday, declined to make any comment on what the league might be seeking in a new labor deal.