NHLPA Describes Positive CBA Talks Ahead Of Opt-Out Deadline
Roughly 50 NHLers met in Chicago to get an update on CBA talks with the league, and NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr "described discussions with the league as cordial and pleasant," according to Stephem Whyno of the AP. NHL players have "yet to decide whether to terminate" the current CBA with less than two weeks before the deadline to do so. Fehr called yesterday's meetings a "good discussion." NHLPA reps will be "back in talks with the league in the coming days," as players have until Sept. 15 to make their decision. Fehr: "It doesn't mean there haven't been disagreements and significant disagreements, but it's so far at least free from rancor. That's a big improvement." Players "appear to have bigger concerns with the current agreement than owners, notably escrow payments and other financial issues" (AP, 9/4). In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes NHLers are "laying out the pros and cons" of "risking a lockout," or waiting until '22 to forge a new deal. They "don't like how escrow is working," a mechanism whereby the league "withholds a percentage of their pay to ensure a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenue." If targets are not met, the players have to "pay the owners back through that escrow account." Rarely have targets been met, so players have "typically not collected their full paycheque." Meanwhile, owners "might not like how restricted free agency is working" (TORONTO STAR, 9/5).
NEW FACES, NEW PLACES: In Toronto, Michael Traikos writes this is "not the same league that locked its doors for half the season" in '12-13. It is "much younger." Of the players who were in Chicago this week, "about half were 25 or younger." Traikos: "So you can bet that this time around, they will have a voice in regards to what matters to them" (TORONTO SUN, 9/5). Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews: "It sounds like the NHL is happy. It's still early. We all just know what we feel strongly about. We just have to be on the same page" (TORONTO STAR, 9/5). TSN.ca's Frank Seravalli noted there is "some optimism that a new CBA can be hammered out in the next 10 days." The players want a "more palatable escrow percentage." Seravalli: "The problem is escrow isn't going anywhere" (TSN.ca, 9/4).