By Stephen Whyno (AP Hockey Writer)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NHL and NHL Players’ Association held a lengthy meeting to discuss keeping the current collective bargaining agreement past 2020 and agreed to meet again next week to continue the talks.
The sides met for more than two hours Thursday to talk about a CBA extension that could pave the way for a World Cup of Hockey in 2020.
”I think we had a constructive dialogue,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told The Associated Press on Thursday night. ”But beyond that, we have nothing to announce and I have nothing to add.”
The current CBA runs until 2022, but the league and players each have the option this September to terminate it effective Sept. 15, 2020. Because a World Cup would happen in the fall of 2020, the league has linked labor peace to the ability to put on another version of the tournament, which returned in 2016.
Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly have said previously a CBA agreement would need to be in place by around the end of January to begin planning a World Cup. It’s not clear if enough progress has been made to make that a realistic objective, though NHLPA special assistant to the executive director Mathieu Schneider voiced some positives about the situation.
”We went longer than we thought (we would),” Schneider said. ”We’re having another meeting. So I think that speaks for itself.”
Daly said the discussions were ”substantive” enough to keep talking next week in Toronto.
Among the issues players have expressed concerns with in the current CBA are escrow payments to confirm to a 50/50 split of revenue that decrease their paychecks and no agreement to participate in the Olympics.
The World Cup of Hockey, where revenues were split evenly in 2016 between owners and players, would seem to be a subject of agreement. But because of escrow, the Olympics and other issues, there’s no simple path to a solution.
”It’s too early to really predict success or failure,” Daly said. ”But I think there’s a commitment by both sides to try to meet again and see if we can move forward on something that might work for a CBA extension.”