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Volume 26 No. 174
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Top NHL Owners Pleased With Players' Decision On CBA

The mood of NHL owners and team execs at the league's BOG meeting in N.Y. yesterday was a "mix of ecstatic, blended with a touch of relief" after players decided not to opt out of the CBA early, according to Pierre LeBrun of THE ATHLETIC. MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum said of the players' decision, "Very important, hugely important. ... It was the right thing to do for both sides. I couldn’t be happier." Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs called it a "wise decision." He said, "All of us will profit from it." Jacobs and Tanenbaum, who are "two of the most influential owners in hockey," felt "genuine excitement." No owners have "been present in the CBA sessions between the NHL and NHLPA" so far. Had the players "opted out of the CBA, you had to wonder how the tone of these negotiations might have changed, particularly if Jacobs and a few other hard-line owners suddenly entered the negotiation room." Players "made the assessment that negotiating concessions and changes" with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, and "without Jacobs and other owners in the room, was the right path to stay on" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/17).

HEADED FOR PEACE? In Buffalo, Mike Harrington writes the decisions of both sides to not opt out early "not only assured no lockout next season, but also took away all the chatter about an expiring CBA that would have surely become a major talking point to this season." Sabres D and union rep Jake McCabe said, "Hopefully Gary and the NHL keep working towards an agreement like they've been talking about during this time and we get something done in the next couple of years. You just want to see revenues grow. We all do. Players had a good discussion and it was a very informative process so we know where we're heading" (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/18). Canadiens RW and player rep Brendan Gallagher said, "We're hopeful that the NFL can continue to create revenue growth. That's the important thing as players. We think we have a great sport and a great product and we're hopeful it will continue to grow in the right direction." He added, "We're putting a lot of faith in the NHL to continue the negotiations and we can come to a solution that makes everybody happy" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 9/18). Golden Knights RW Mark Stone said with the help of NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr, players are "going to be able to find ways to do that and try to grow our game in a positive way" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/18). 

PLAYERS SPEAK OUT: Jets C and player rep Adam Lowry said despite the players not opting out early, there are "still some issues in the CBA players aren't happy with." Lowry: "We've had some good talks with the league and they're going to continue to negotiate, and hopefully we can find a resolution to some of these issues." He added, "Hopefully those productive talks continue. I don't think there's a timeline to possibly have anything extended, but we're still open to extending the CBA" (NATIONAL POST, 9/17). Canucks C and player rep Bo Horvat said, "We're going to have a lot more discussion here, concerning the CBA, over the next three years, and hopefully we'll get a deal done" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/18). Blues D Jay Bouwmeester: "I’ve been through two lockouts, and there’s not the issues that were staring us in the face that there were those previous two times. You take a step back and look at it and maybe there’s a little fight over stuff that can hopefully be worked out in the meantime and is probably not worth it" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/18).

TOO MUCH TRUST IN BETTMAN? In L.A., Helene Elliott writes in deciding to extend the current labor deal, the NHLPA "gave Bettman the keys and is letting him drive the car while trusting him when he says he knows the best route." The union "lost its leverage in efforts to modify the escrow system." Bettman has "no incentive now to appease their concerns even if discussions maintain their supposedly cordial tone." The NHLPA also "lost its leverage in trying to get the league to again allow players to represent their homelands in the Winter Olympics" (L.A. TIMES, 9/18).