NHL's Decision To Not Opt Out Of CBA Seen As Positive Step
The NHL's decision on Friday to not opt out of the current CBA "can't be seen as anything but great news," according to Ken Campbell of THE HOCKEY NEWS. To assume this will "lead to a new agreement would be putting the cart miles ahead of the horse, but there is legitimate reason for optimism that this will indeed lead to the league and the players to extending the current agreement and ensuring labor peace" until the end of the '24-25 season. The NHL and the NHLPA are reportedly already "elbow-deep in negotiations." The league’s decision "not to opt out clearly puts the ball in the players’ court, since they now have until Sept. 15 to make their decision on the matter." But a "good number of signs point to the two sides agreeing to extend the players’ deadline by a couple of months, perhaps to Jan. 1." In the meantime, the two sides "would continue to negotiate an extension to the current deal, one that would likely run three more years" beyond the current '22 expiration date. Much more will be "clear this week" when the two sides meet tomorrow in Chicago (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 8/31). In Boston, Conor Ryan wrote given the progress being made on the negotiation front, one has to "think that both sides can find the common ground to build off of what should be a fruitful stretch for the NHL as a whole" (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 9/1).
ALL IS WELL: ESPN.com's Greg Wyshynski noted the NHL's owners have been "pleased with the current CBA," which was ratified in January '13. Revenue has "grown steadily for the league, and with it the salary cap." Revised rules on contracts and the "cost certainty" of the cap system have "produced a strong decade of growth for the league." The NHL has had a "work stoppage during every period of collective bargaining" under NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (ESPN.com, 8/30).
LOOKING AHEAD: The AP's Wawrow & Whyno noted if the players "opt to reopen the CBA, it would set the clock ticking toward a potential third work stoppage in the sport" since '04. If the players "choose not to terminate the agreement, it remains in effect" until '22. Bettman in a statement said, "Based on the current state of the game and the business of the game, the NHL believes it is essential to continue building upon the momentum we have created with our players." Wawrow & Whyno noted the players, however, have "concerns, notably regarding the escrow issue, Olympic participation and the split of hockey-related revenue." The NHL and NHLPA are in agreement on "wanting more international competition and are in talks about holding another World Cup of Hockey" as early as February '21 (AP, 8/30). NHL Network's Elliotte Friedman said the players "feel that if some of the things that they pay for could be moved into what the league pays for, then their escrow would go down and I believe that’s one of the key factors what the two sides have been negotiating.” These negotiations are "very different" from years past. Most people on both sides "don’t want to rock the boat.” Friedman said there is "a lot of fatigue on both sides" when it comes to work stoppages, and they would like to "keep the peace" ("NHL Tonight," NHL Network, 8/31).