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SBJ/20090112/This Week's News
NHL players expected to extend labor deal
Published January 12, 2009
The NHL Players’ Association board of player representatives will vote later this month on whether to end the collective-bargaining agreement this year or extend it another two years, and it is widely expected they’ll choose not to opt out.
Sources said an announcement of the players’ decision may be made the week of the NHL All-Star Game, set for Jan. 25 in Montreal. NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said in an e-mail that players would vote on the issue in mid- to late January.
Under the CBA that ended the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the players have the option to terminate the agreement in September 2009 or extend it two more seasons. They then can extend it one more year after the 2010-11 season. The players are not required to tell the league of their plans until mid-May 2009, but NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly has said he plans to inform the league of the union’s decision in January.
Hockey agents and other hockey sources said it is unlikely players would vote to end the agreement in September, in light of the deteriorating global economy. At least one source said the apparent rift in the players union (see above story), is another reason the players are not interested in a labor battle at this time.
Meanwhile, some sources said there has been discussion — although no decision — to raise the escrow on players’ salaries above the current 13.5 percent. Under the CBA, players pay into escrow accounts throughout the season in case salaries account for more than 57 percent of hockey-related revenue over the course of the season. Anything above that 57 percent threshold is returned to owners from the escrow account.
The escrow is determined quarterly after the NHLPA and the NHL review revenue information. Weatherdon said the league and the union will discuss the percentage for the third-quarter escrow in the next couple of weeks.