NHL Open For Business: Likelihood Of 50-Game Season Fades, CBA Still To Be Finalized
The timeline for the start of a shortened NHL season "remained up in the air" one day after the NHL and NHLPA agreed on a tentative CBA deal, according to Chris Johnston of the CP. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday said that hope for a 50-game schedule "had already faded as the sides continued to finalize the memorandum of understanding their constituents will each vote on later in the week." As a result, the league is "likely to return with a 48-game season starting Jan. 19." As of last night, the sides had "yet to complete a memorandum of understanding which was likely to run over a couple hundred pages when completed" (CP, 1/7). In New Jersey, Tom Gulitti notes league and union attorneys yesterday continued to "put together a memorandum of understanding, which will be what is voted on for ratification." The CBA will "take longer to be finalized." The NHL BOG will meet tomorrow in N.Y. to vote, while the players’ ratification vote "will take place electronically" on Thursday and Friday. To allow for that, training camp "won’t start before Saturday and that might be pushed to Sunday or Monday." The full schedule will "not be announced until the deal has been ratified by both sides, but it’s possible the teams’ season openers and other schedule highlights will be released earlier" (Bergen RECORD, 1/8). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen noted players already have "been allowed to use team training facilities, but training camp won't start until players approve a memo of understanding." If training camp does not start until Sunday, Daly said that it is "still possible to start the season on Jan. 19." That will mean players "will be in training camp for only six days." The last possible date for a Stanley Cup Final game "will be June 28, although the league is still trying to get that down to June 26" (USATODAY.com, 1/7).
WORKING OUT THE KINKS: Kings RW Kevin Westgarth said that players, fans, coaches and owners "must be patient while the last steps to starting the season are completed." He said that the union would "conduct a conference call to answer questions about the new CBA." Westgarth: "Of course the league will say if the players hurry up, we can play more games, there's a reality to consider as well. But the first step is for the people who are good with words to get on paper what both sides agreed to" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 1/8). In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch reports teams have been told to "only speak in general terms about the CBA." The threat of a $1M fine "remains in place if any owner, president, general manager or club personnel speaks out of line." Players are "permitted to return to club facilities and it’s up to each individual team to decide if they want to open the doors to players before the CBA is ratified." There can be "no formal workouts, practices or team meetings" (OTTAWA SUN, 1/8). In N.Y., Jeff Klein notes the NHL yesterday allowed "players to go into team dressing rooms and talk to the news media." But "no coaches or management officials were permitted to interact with players" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/8). In Winnipeg, Tim Campbell noted chatter around the league is that some clubs "would like to squeeze in one exhibition game before the regular season starts" (WINNIPEGFREEPRESS.com, 1/7). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said this year for the NHL will be a “compromised season but I’m glad we’re going to see a season.” ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said, “I don’t see it as compromised. ... The playoffs are the playoffs" (“PTI,” ESPN, 1/7).