NHL, Players' Tenor Still Positive Regarding CBA Negotiations
There are not many details "emerging from behind closed doors" regarding the current NHL CBA negotiations, a "development that provides more than a little quiet optimism that hockey won't face its third work stoppage in two decades," according to Stephen Whyno of the AP. The NHLPA has until Sunday to "decide whether to opt out of the current labor contract" as of next September after owners "decided earlier this month not to trigger their opt-out clause." The sides have met twice in the past week "to try to hammer out a CBA extension, and the fragments of reports coming out of talks suggest an environment of cooperation that is less contentious than previous negotiations." NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr said that these talks have "so far been 'free from rancor.'" Coyotes C Derek Stepan: "I went through the one in 2012 and it seemed a little more chaotic. But this one, it seems a little more organized and guys are on the same page, and that's a huge thing." Whyno noted several players indicated that the NHLPA is "united on what is important and how to proceed." Roughly 50 players "met last week in Chicago, and there is consensus talks are moving in the right direction." A CBA extension "could still happen over the next year if players opt out," but there is "no telling how that move might change negotiations" (AP, 9/9).
CAP IS KING: The Hockey News' Matt Larkin said the NHL does not implement a soft salary or luxury tax to encourage bigger market team spending because Commissioner Gary Bettman is a "parity guy." Larkin: "His goal his entire tenure has been to develop those (smaller) markets and I think he prefers having as many teams as possible be competitive, even if it means you're not getting the TV ratings of dominant Kings-Rangers every year." He added, "Because of Bettman, it's going to stay the way it is." The Hockey News' Ken Campbell said the league has "never had an appetite for a luxury tax." He said, "The hard cap is king. It has kept the top salaries down. If you look at other sports, hockey's top guys are not making much more than they were making even 15 years ago, whereas in all the other three sports, the guys are making two, three, four times what they made 10 years ago, 15 years ago" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/9).