NHL, NHLPA Will Meet Again Next Week To Continue CBA Talks
The NHL and NHLPA will continue their labor negotiations next week after meeting for "more than two hours Thursday to talk about a CBA extension that could pave the way for a World Cup of Hockey" in '20, according to Stephen Whyno of the AP. The current CBA runs through '22, but the NHL and NHLPA "each have the option this September to terminate it effective Sept. 15, 2020." Because a World Cup of Hockey would take place prior to the '20 season, the NHL has "linked labor peace to the ability to put on another version of the tournament." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly have stated that a new CBA would "need to be in place by around the end of January to begin planning a World Cup," though it is "not clear if enough progress has been made to make that a realistic objective." The World Cup of Hockey, where "revenues were split evenly" in '16 between owners and players, would "seem to be a subject of agreement." However, because of "escrow, the Olympics and other issues" in CBA negotiations, there is "no simple path to a solution" (AP, 1/10).
HOLD THE LINE: MFive Sports' Anton Thun said that the union engaging in CBA talks linked to the World Cup of Hockey deadline is a "massive tactical error." The longtime agent said, "It's a travesty. For an international hockey calendar or a World Cup of Hockey in 2020 to have any impact at all or be the reason for hastening CBA talks does not make any sense. The World Cup of Hockey in 2016 did not advance hockey to the world." Thun also questioned whether or not NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr has "received a mandate from the union to conduct preliminary CBA negotiations." Thun: "Until the players themselves have defined specific goals, and each player has insight as to what those goals are, I do not think there should be any CBA negotiations taking place" (TSN.ca, 1/10).
HELD IN ESCROW: Octagon's Allan Walsh said the "primary issue for players is escrow and finding a way to ease the burden." He noted players are currently seeing 13.5% of their paychecks "withheld, and that's off the top." The agent added that players in Canadian markets are in the 50% plus tax bracket in some places, meaning 63.5-68% of their pay checks are "gone." Walsh: "That's the biggest issue. ... Clearly any new deal going forward has to in some way address the escrow burden on players." SPORTSNET.ca's Mike Johnston noted participation in the '22 Beijing Games "could be another point of contention in negotiations" (SPORTSNET.ca, 1/10). SPORTSNET.ca's Elliotte Friedman wrote escrow issue is "complicated," as capping or re-working the formula "will take major concessions from the NHLPA." There is "really not much wiggle room because there is little incentive for the NHL to budge." Friedman: "If I were in the union, I would work backwards, knowing that the league would probably want to decrease the length of the maximum contract and limit the amount of signing bonuses on contracts" (SPORTSNET.ca, 1/9).