Fehr: Players would be ‘foolish’ to ignore possibility of work stoppage in 2020

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If there’s a work stoppage in 2020, Derek Stepan is one of the growing number of NHLers who will have some insurance.

That’s because, for the 2020-21 season, Stepan managed to negotiate $3 million of his $5 million salary to be paid out in a signing bonus. Whether there’s a season or not, he’ll get paid that bonus.

It’s a strategy that dates back to the last lockout in 2012. And according to NHLPA chief Donald Fehr, it’s simply sound business practice for his union members.

“My judgement is that players would be foolish not to take into consideration the possible outcomes when the contract expires or either side terminates it early,” Fehr said Wednesday, per Postmedia. “They have to take that into account.”

The NHLPA must decide by Sept. 19, 2019, if it wants to opt out of the final two seasons of the 10-year CBA. The NHL can also opt out two years early; however, it’s the players who’ve complained most about the current deal. They don’t like escrow. And they were furious that the league tried to use the 2018 Winter Olympics as a negotiating chip.

If neither side opts out, the CBA will run until Sept. 15, 2022 — unless it’s extended first.