NHL, NHLPA Won't Pick Up CBA Negotiations Until After Jan. 29 All-Star Game
The final day of the NHL BOG annual meetings was taken up with discussion of the collective bargaining status, and the governors yesterday "heard a report on the recent collective agreements" signed by the NFL, NBA and MLB, according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. The governors were also told "where things stand with the NHLPA." The union is "keeping quiet about its demands but conversations with those on the management side show the league is expecting a major clawback from the players in their share of hockey related revenue." Under the current agreement, the players "receive 57 per cent of the hockey related revenue." The NFL and NBA, "the other leagues with a salary cap, received concessions from the players on the revenue front." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was "non-committal about the labour negotiations, saying only he expects them to start after the all-star game" on Jan. 29 (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/7). ESPN.com's Scott Burnside noted the "first opportunity for the two sides to begin meeting won't be until late January, at the earliest." That is due to NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "spending a great deal of time traveling to talk to players about which issues are priorities for them and to make sure the players understand his position on how to conduct negotiations." Bettman said, "Don has suggested it will take at least 'til the All-Star Game when he's ready." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that fans "shouldn't draw parallels between the NHL and the collective bargaining agreements in other sports." Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe said that he "thought there was a different feel at the outset of these negotiations compared with the ones that led to the 2004-05 lockout." He said, "There doesn't appear to be any doom and gloom on the horizon, but I guess we'll know in a few months" (ESPN.com, 12/6).
LET'S TALK IT OUT: Devils RW and player rep David Clarkson said yesterday that there "has been no player rep meeting or conference call scheduled to discuss" implementation of the NHL's four-conference realignment plan. Clarkson said, "I'm sure in the next week or so there will be an E-mail sent out or a phone call and people will start talking about it." In New Jersey, Tom Gulitti notes some players "have expressed concern that the teams in the seven-team conferences will have a mathematical advantage because they have to beat out only three teams to make the playoffs instead of four," and that is "one issue the NHLPA likely will look at." Rangers G and assistant player rep Martin Biron said, "The league has the final say. It's not an easy thing to figure it out for everybody." Reports indicated that the Rangers "were one of four teams to vote against the realignment plan" (Bergen RECORD, 12/7).
WORD TO THE WISE: A Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE editorial states, "Given the growing worldwide popularity of the sport, the NHL is in a strong position to finally take on the fighting culture that detracts from the game and ... may be killing its players." Former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard's "death should prompt the NHL to have its own wow moment, and realize that fighting isn't a necessary part of the game" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/7).