Tag: CBA

Gary Bettman

No official CBA negotiations until June?


Fans hoping for NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to start making some serious progress towards a new collective bargaining agreement could be very disappointed. According to Eric Francis on CBC’s Hot Stove, the two sides aren’t expected to officially kick off negotiations until after the Stanley Cup finals in June.

The logic is pretty much what you would figure. For the Players’ Association, waiting would allow all players to be fully focus on the process and not just the ones from teams that have already been eliminated. The NHL would also avoid running the risk of the CBA negotiations distracting from the playoffs.

The current CBA runs through September, so even if they wait until June to get the ball rolling, they’ll still have plenty of time to work things out. That being said, if they don’t resolve the issue by July, then GMs could be in an awkward position during this summer’s free agent market. According to Elliotte Friedman, the salary cap could be above $70 million in July, but that doesn’t mean it will be anything near that come September.

Insuring concussed players could “alter hockey industry”


Learning more about concussions is fantastic from a preventive standpoint, but as history shows, progress often comes with some headaches.

Rick Westhead offers the latest troubling wrinkle to the issue: insurance companies might just balk at covering players with histories of concussion problems in the future.

Insurance companies specializing in sports say the Penguins and other NHL teams will increasingly have to adopt the risk of million-dollar contracts alone as the number of players sidelined with concussions swells. The prospect threatens to alter the hockey industry.

… If more players continue to be sidelined with concussions, insurers may stop insuring players with brain injuries altogether.

For some of you, insurance is an eyes-glazing-over issue. That’s understandable, but it could come at a brutal cost for teams and/or players. Things could get especially interesting/horrible if this issue would have a big impact on Sidney Crosby’s next contract negotiations since his second deal runs out after the 2012-13 season.

(Then again, perhaps a new CBA will alleviate that problem – if it doesn’t bring about a hockey apocalypse in the process.)

Look, it’s fantastic that the sports world is becoming more educated about concussions – or at least afraid enough to handle these situations with less haste – but there are times when the problems almost feel crippling. It’s wrong to say that ignorance is bliss, but there are some undeniable growing pains that come with increased knowledge, too.

Bettman hopes collective bargaining will be “painless and quiet and quick”


There was a bit of unease today when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there’s no set date to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.

With the current CBA set to expire on Sept. 15, several media outlets reacted with doom and gloom — that included Reuters, which ran with the “Labor war looms over All-Star weekend” headline.

Labor war? Hopefully not, Bettman said.

“My hope is that we can reason together and that collective bargaining will be painless and quiet and quick,” Bettman told reporters following Saturday’s board of governors meeting. “That would serve everyone’s best interest.”

The scent of labor strife has been in the air since the NHLPA rejected the NHL’s proposed realignment. Many saw it as the first shot fired by players’ association head Donald Fehr, the former Major League Baseball PA executive director known for his hard-nosed negotiation practices.

On Saturday, Fehr re-iterated much of what Bettman said — there’s no set date for the two sides to begin CBA talks.

“I don’t know yet, there will obviously be some preliminary discussions to set things up and talk about things,” Fehr said. “Obviously, my preference will be when we get to the real significant sessions to do it at a point in time, which is rather more likely to have players present easily than less.

“But we’ll know sometime in the next few weeks how that’s going to play out.”

Fehr also stated that people (read: media types) might be reading too much into the lack of a formal start date. He and the NHLPA want to obtain more financial information before getting down to brass tacks.

“There’s this view that somehow if you have this big meeting and everyone comes and takes pictures of a dozen or two dozen people sitting around a table like the auto workers used to do, that somehow magically that signifies the kickoff of something in a formal way and that the world is different as between before and after,” Fehr said.

“That’s largely untrue. … Don’t make more out of it than is there.”

Gary Bettman discusses realignment, labor talks

Gary Bettman

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made a visit to Anaheim today and the media gathered to discuss a variety of league-wide and local issues. The most interesting tidbits – at least regarding what Bettman would call “new news” – revolve around dealings with the NHLPA.

PHT’s own Matt Reitz was on hand to gather Bettman’s comments, including this bit on realignment:

“The most significant thing I can say about that is the governors were overwhelming in support of the plan,” Bettman said. “It’s something that we, as a league, thought was the right thing to do for our fans, for the team, for the game. But we made the decision based on the position that the union was taking to try not to be confrontational right now. Ultimately, our goal will be to be to implement the will of the board [of governors].”

For the most part, Bettman didn’t provide a whole lot of information about the negotiation process regarding the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. He did share an interesting little nugget about when the discussions could begin, though:

“Well, Don Fehr has repeatedly said that he wouldn’t be ready until after the All-Star [weekend],” Bettman said. “My guess is that at some point in the next few weeks, we’ll probably sit down—assuming the union is comfortable doing that. There’s a pretty steep learning curve in terms of the business from the union’s standpoint, what the players are focused on, and we’ve been respectful of that process. So whenever they’re ready, we’re ready. We’ve been ready.”

Speaking of readiness, Bettman spoke about what is likely the greatest fear of hockey people: another protracted work stoppage. When asked if the league “learned a lesson” after the lockout, Bettman’s response was logical but not necessarily soothing:

“I’m not sure it’s about learning lessons, because the lesson that everybody knows – and it’s not one you have to learn – is that you want to not have work stoppages,” Bettman said. “They’re not fun. They’re counter-productive. But if, if you’re in a situation as we were where there were fundamental problems that had to be addressed, you have to address the problems. Because you can’t live with a dysfunctional system.”

It’s not crazy to view that quote as a bit cryptic, especially if he views the current system as dysfunctional.

It’s tough to imagine the league taking that stand, but that doesn’t mean that a work stoppage is out of the question – especially with the aforementioned realignment talk in mind.

If you want to hear more from Bettman’s meeting with the press (expect more on Thursday morning), The OC Register’s Eric Stephens captured some of his full comments in the video below.

NHL under ‘roster freeze’ until Dec. 27


The holiday season brings one bummer for imaginative fans: their hypothetical trade ideas cannot (even potentially) become a reality until midnight on Dec. 27. The NHL is currently in a “roster freeze” period which means that teams aren’t allowed to make trades or waiver moves during this time.

It’s a nice thing that fringe players cannot utter the Step Brothers line: “You know what I got for Christmas? A crushed soul.”

Those worried about injuries can relax, though, as teams are allowed to recall minor league players on an “emergency basis.”

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner for the reminder.)