If you were worried that the NHL and the NHL Officials Association wouldn’t be able to work things out to get the full-time NHL referees and linesmen on the ice this season, fear not. The NHL and the NHLOA have come together on a tentative four-year agreement on a collective bargaining agreement. The release from the NHL states that no comment will be made until the ratification process has been completed.
To dumb things down a bit, the guys that we’re all accustomed to booing night in and night out in the NHL will be back on the ice. Getting a deal worked out with the NHLOA was the last bit of housekeeping the NHL has to get completed before the season begins in earnest on Thursday afternoon in Europe. If both the NHLOA and the NHL Board of Governors fail to get the deal ratified, the NHL would likely have to fall back on replacement referees to staff all of the games. A few weeks ago, the NHL was looking to bring in ECHL officials to work NHL games if they weren’t able to get something worked out with the NHLOA.
As much as we all find time to complain about the referees, I think we’d miss them immediately if subjected to non-polished minor league officials who would likely call games tight and by the book. Think about how NHL games were called fresh out of the lockout when power play opportunities were at an all-time high. I think we all hope the NHL and NHLPA can get a deal worked out this quietly and in time to play games in a couple years like this.