While the practice has received its fair share of mixed reviews, the NHL’s tradition of kicking off its regular season by playing several games in Europe provides fans and players with a unique experience. Chris Johnston reports that the unsettled CBA situation prompted the NHL to nix the “Premiere Games” for 2012, though.
To date, there have been no formal bargaining talks between the league and NHL Players’ Association.
However, the sides have discussed the status of the premiere games for next season.
The league was willing to schedule them, but an agreement couldn’t be reach with the NHLPA over how cancellation costs would be handled in the event of a work stoppage, according to two sources.
It’s logical for the NHL to play it safe and avoid confusion regarding games that simply might not happen if the CBA talks stall. Still, it certainly calls Gary Bettman’s “business as usual” comments into question since – most literally – this is a break from the way the league has been doing business the last few years.
It’s not time to lay flowers on the 2012-13 season’s grave just yet, but it does speak to the concern that the NHLPA and NHL have some work to do.
Players can look on the bright side, though: if the season goes off without a hitch, they’ll save a little wear and tear from travel.
After telling NHL general managers to take a “business as usual” approach despite CBA uncertainty, commissioner Gary Bettman dropped some interesting tidbits to reporters including The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle.
Despite the rather elementary – almost flippant – delivery of his response, Bettman’s take on next season’s salary cap certainly seems interesting:
On the salary cap going up over the summer before a new CBA comes in: “Revenues continue to grow so you know how the system works. Revenues grow, the cap grows.”
That probably seems painfully simple, but one of the worries heading into the new CBA negotiations was that owners may try to dial back the salary cap. That might still be the case, but it’s promising to hear Bettman say that the cap is likely to rise.
What he didn’t discuss was the salary cap floor. One interesting (and one would assume, at least slightly less contentious) possible debate for the CBA talks revolves around the possibility of “relaxing” the minimum amount a team must spend to be cap complaint. The higher ceiling is fantastic for the Chicago/Pittsburgh/Detroit’s of the NHL, but smaller market teams often struggle to spend enough to stay in the game.
If you take Bettman’s quote as a totally accurate prediction, one would guess that the floor would follow the ceiling’s lead – and make lower-budget teams continue to strain with it.
As with all of this talk, we’ll ultimately just need to wait and see. Yet with big-ticket players like Shea Weber set to hit the unrestricted free agent market, things could be a lot more fun if teams are allowed to spend big.
(Well, they might not end up that fun for the Nashville Predators, but still.)
With the boogeyman know as the return of the two-line pass shoved neatly back in the closet, NHL fans can turn back to another looming monster: the thought of another lockout.
General managers must wonder about that situation too – or at least how the NHL’s structure might change if a new CBA is hammered out in a timely fashion. It’s unlikely GMs will face a radical alteration on the scale of fresh new salary cap this time around and James Mirtle reports that Gary Bettman echoed such a sentiment by advising teams to take a “business as usual” approach despite the uncertainty.
“We told the clubs to conduct business as usual and the update is there was no update,” Bettman said. “There’s nothing going on [in terms of talks]… The fact is when the union is ready to negotiate, we’ll be ready to sit down. I’m not particularly concerned about the timeline. There’s plenty of time.”
That might be true, but many of us are biting our nails about this as we worry that the two sides will treat the situation like a college student who decides to cram a 10-page paper into one horrible caffeine-soaked night of work.*
Still, it’s not time to panic – yet – and the fact that Bettman is telling general managers to spend away seems like a positive sign. Sure, most of us would love the two sides to be proactive so they don’t end up like the NBA (hashing out a zero-hour deal that results into a ridiculously condensed season), but let’s try to stay positive.
(Starts breathing into a brown paper bag.)
* – Yup, I was one of those boneheads once.