NHL, NHLPA Believed To Be Moving Toward Multiyear CBA Extension
The NHL and NHLPA are "believed to be making progress towards a potential three-year extension" of the CBA that would run through '25, according to Chris Johnston of SPORTSNET. The NHLPA's decision yesterday "not to trigger an early end to the current agreement ... should also raise hopes that an even longer extension might be in the offing." This development is a "welcome change for a league that has experienced three straight lockouts" and saw the entire '04-05 season "shuttered before the salary cap was instituted." It has "come about because the owners feel they have a fair system where revenues are split 50-50 and the cap is tied to the overall growth of the business." The NHL had "previously let its own deadline to re-open the CBA pass on Sept. 1." Had the players "decided to trigger" a September '20 end to the CBA, there was "some fear that it might derail the positive bargaining" that has already happened. Now the work can "continue without the semi-imminent threat of a deadline" (SPORTSNET.ca, 9/16). THE ATHLETIC's Katie Strang noted it is "not believed that the two sides have gotten down to the true nitty, gritty details as of yet," though yesterday's decision by the NHLPA "indicates a willingness on both sides to keep at it on the negotiating front." There "certainly does not seem to be the appetite from within either camp to force the issue or go looking for a fight." However, labor peace "shouldn’t be taken as a given simply because the NHLPA passed up on the opportunity to opt-out" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/16).
WHAT'S ON THE TABLE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league is "pleased with the players’ decision and looked 'forward to continuing to work with the NHLPA for the benefit of all stakeholders.'" The AP's Stephen Whyno noted escrow payments, health care, Olympic participation and what qualifies as hockey-related revenue are things players have "cited as some of their top concerns." Canucks C Bo Horvat said that escrow is "still the main topic players want to fix, and there seems to be general agreement across the union about that." Players "held two conference calls in recent days to discuss the situation after almost 50 met in person in Chicago on Sept. 4." Very little information has "come out of the talks, which is considered a signal of a more united NHLPA and optimism that progress was being made" (AP, 9/16).
ESCROW TANGO: In Toronto, Michael Traikos notes the players' decision indicates that escrow "wasn't a hill worth dying on after all." Or "maybe ... losing thousands of dollars off their paycheques in the form of escrow is not quite as bad as not having a paycheque at all" (TORONTO SUN, 9/17). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote this was a "group of players who were disgruntled about the fact that they lose" between 12-15% of their wages on payday. They had "made it very clear that it was the most pressing issue, but when they had a chance to put the league in a position to do something about it, they took a hard pass." So now, "no player should ever get to publicly complain about escrow payments for another three years at least." Collective bargaining, "in fact any form of bargaining, is all about taking advantage of leverage, and the players had it and handed it back to their employer" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/16).
YOUNG PLAYERS GETTING INVOLVED: ESPN.com's Greg Wyshynski wrote Oilers C Connor McDavid has been "one of the more engaged voices of his generation of players, which is important," for it is the veteran players who "typically have the loudest voices in CBA talks or discussions about rule changes." It is the "younger players who typically have to grin and bear it until it's their turn." But McDavid said, "I definitely have an interest in (labor talks). ... It's a lot of money on the line for all our players. ... The players that came before me have been involved and it's important to keep that going." Oilers GM & President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland was "pleased to see a young star such as McDavid take an active role." He said, "When you can get the great players on the ice involved in discussions on how to make the game better, that's a great thing for our game" (ESPN.com, 9/16). Stars C Jason Dickinson, who in just his second year in the league is serving as his team's PA rep, said, "For me, this is going to shape part of my career. A lot of the older guys, it'll only be a portion, but for me, this is going to be a huge chunk of my career here. It's something I should take an interest in" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/17).