Season could start without new CBA, says Fehr

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As long as the league and players’ union are still negotiating, the 2012-13 NHL season could start without a new collective bargaining agreement in place, NHLPA chief Donald Fehr suggested today in Chicago.

Whether the owners feel the same way is another question.

The PA is holding meetings until Wednesday, soon after which formal talks between the league and union are set to begin as the Sept. 15 expiration of the current CBA approaches.

Not that a deal absolutely has to get done by then, maintains Fehr, formerly the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

“There’s nothing magic about Sept. 15. The law is that if you don’t have a new agreement, and as long as both sides are willing to keep negotiating, you can continue to play under the terms of the old one until you reach an agreement,” he said. “All I know is that in baseball, there were any number of occasions in which we played while the parties were continuing to negotiate.”

We’re still left to speculate how aggressively the two sides will pursue their respective positions. Many predict the owners will attempt to cut the players’ share of revenues from the current 57 percent, a move the PA would undoubtedly oppose given all the concessions the union made to end the 2004-05 lockout.

Fehr’s assertion that the season could start without a new agreement in place could also be a proactive PR play. After all, it’s the owners that have to lock out the players. If the union is willing to keep negotiating and the league cancels games anyway, whose side do you think the fans will take?

Image via @NHLPA