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Volume 25 No. 155

Leagues and Governing Bodies

McDavid doesn't want the NHL to lose positive momentum it has gained in recent years

The NHL and the NHLPA next September "must announce their intentions" regarding the opening of the current CBA in the fall of '20, but it appears the league and its owners "aren’t frothing at the mouth for a battle," according to Pierre LeBrun of THE ATHLETIC. Owners got their "hard salary cap by laying waste to an entire season" in '04-05 and then sacrificed a half year in '12-13 to "bring the players’ revenue share down" to 50%. They have been "largely satisfied ever since." LeBrun: "I believe the NHL’s Board of Directors before the Sept. 1, 2019 deadline, will vote not to re-open the current deal." If the owners "vote to stay in the current deal, that will put the focus squarely on the players, who have until Sept. 15, 2019, two weeks later, to announce their intentions." NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr said, "It is fair to say that the players understand the magnitude of the concessions that were made last time around. And it’s front and centre in their memories." He added, "I would be astonished if by mid-summer we don’t both know whether either party is going to open." Oilers C Connor McDavid: "The NHL is starting to gain a little bit of momentum. ... We’re starting to build a little bit of steam here and I don’t think either party wants to give that up. Because ultimately you’re almost giving it all back if you have a lockout." LeBrun wrote no owner will ever be "totally happy, some teams are still struggling, but no doubt this is as quiet as it’s been in a long time from their camp" (, 9/11).

BIGGEST ISSUES: THE ATHLETIC's LeBrun noted the "two biggest bugaboos" for the players heading into the next CBA are escrow and non-Olympic participation. Currently the players' escrow is setup to "ensure the hard cap reality"of a 50-50 Hockey Related Revenue split. It is "annoying as hell for the players." They want to "earn closer to what their actual salaries are." One obvious solution is to "slow down the rise of the salary cap so that players aren’t eating up more than 50 percent of HRR." In some ways, the NHLPA has done just that by "negotiating less than the five percent 'growth factor' with the league the past few years when determining the final salary cap number." However, it probably "needs to be even more than that." Meanwhile, Olympic participation is a "must for players moving forward, whether that's part of the next CBA or negotiated in a side agreement." Missing out on last February’s Pyeongchang Games was a "crushing blow for the game’s top players." The '22 Beijing Games "has to be on the table for them." McDavid joined the likes of Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews, Sabres C Jack Eichel, Avalanche C Nate MacKinnon, Jets RW Patrik Laine and many others from the "new wave of young stars in the NHL that had their first potential Olympic dream dashed." Eichel said, "That’s the biggest of biggest stages. To not be able to go was frustrating" (, 9/12).

LET THEM PLAY: Wayne Gretzky became the latest voice to say that the NHL should "allow its players to compete in the Winter Olympics." He added the he "hopes the league and players’ association can 'somehow figure this out' during upcoming talks." Gretzky: "There’s something really unique and special about playing for your country" (AP, 9/13).

The NLL today is announcing some franchise ownership news, including a change at the top in Rochester and a new club slated for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rochester Knighthawks Owner, CEO, COO & GM Curt Styres will transfer ownership of the team to Pegula Sports & Entertainment after the '18-19 season, which begins Dec. 1. With the change in ownership in Rochester, PSE will own two NLL teams, as the entity already controls the Buffalo Bandits. Styres, who has been at the helm in Rochester since ’08, will then become the owner of a new team in Halifax for the '19-20 season, taking the league to 12 teams. That new team’s identity and name was not revealed today, but the team did confirm it will play at Scotiabank Centre during a press conference that included Styres, NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage and Events East President & CEO Carrie Cussons, whose firm manages Scotiabank Centre and other venues. Sakiewicz said the move to Halifax “helps accomplish our strategic initiative of creating greater relevance in North America.” The news around Rochester and Halifax for '19-20 comes as the league gets set to welcome two expansion clubs for '18-19 in San Diego (owned by Joe Tsai) and Philadelphia (owned by Comcast Spectacor). The league also plans for expansion to 14 teams by the end of this year. A source has said that the 12th, 13th and 14th clubs are expected to pay an expansion fee of more than $5M.