CBA talks

NHL, NHLPA agree to no World Cup in 2020

1 Comment

The World Cup of Hockey will not happen in 2020, but that doesn’t mean the popular tournament is dead in the water.

That is the message from both the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association late Wednesday.

Both entities released statements stating each party’s agreement that a World Cup of Hockey in 2020 would be unrealistic to schedule.

“The players are focused on finding the proper time to schedule the World Cup of Hockey within the context of an overall international hockey calendar,” a statement from the NHLPA read. “While we and the league have discussed the possibility of holding the next World Cup in September 2020, we jointly concluded that it is unrealistic to expect that preparations for the vent would be completed in that time.”

The NHL’s statement said that both parties held constructive meetings in Toronto on Wednesday.

The NHL’s statement echoed that of the NHLPA and say both parties “plan to continue their dialogue with the hope of being able to schedules the next World Cup event as part of a broader agreement, which would include a long-term international event calendar.”

[Related: NHL and NHLPA meet to discuss CBA, World Cup of Hockey]

Looming large over all of this is the current collective bargaining agreement, which is in place until 2022 unless one side elects to terminate it. That early window to opt out of the current arrangement opens on Sept. 1, 2019, for the NHL and Sept. 15, 2019, for the NHLPA.

The thought is that, if the World Cup in 2020 had gone forward, it would have signified some semblance of peace between the NHL and the NHLPA in terms of labor talks. The fear here, then, is that both sides aren’t close enough to an agreement.

The flip side is that the World Cup is a massive event that would take much planning and coordinating to get sorted in a year-and-a-half.

For now, it seems like both sides are looking in the same direction, together. That’s a positive sign as no one wants lost hockey in any form. Delaying the World Cup is worth it if harmony (and a new CBA) sans a work stoppage is the end result.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: Next season won’t kick off in Europe

5 Comments

While the practice has received its fair share of mixed reviews, the NHL’s tradition of kicking off its regular season by playing several games in Europe provides fans and players with a unique experience. Chris Johnston reports that the unsettled CBA situation prompted the NHL to nix the “Premiere Games” for 2012, though.

To date, there have been no formal bargaining talks between the league and NHL Players’ Association.

However, the sides have discussed the status of the premiere games for next season.

The league was willing to schedule them, but an agreement couldn’t be reach with the NHLPA over how cancellation costs would be handled in the event of a work stoppage, according to two sources.

It’s logical for the NHL to play it safe and avoid confusion regarding games that simply might not happen if the CBA talks stall. Still, it certainly calls Gary Bettman’s “business as usual” comments into question since – most literally – this is a break from the way the league has been doing business the last few years.

It’s not time to lay flowers on the 2012-13 season’s grave just yet, but it does speak to the concern that the NHLPA and NHL have some work to do.

Players can look on the bright side, though: if the season goes off without a hitch, they’ll save a little wear and tear from travel.

Gary Bettman hints at higher salary cap next season

3 Comments

After telling NHL general managers to take a “business as usual” approach despite CBA uncertainty, commissioner Gary Bettman dropped some interesting tidbits to reporters including The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle.

Despite the rather elementary – almost flippant – delivery of his response, Bettman’s take on next season’s salary cap certainly seems interesting:

On the salary cap going up over the summer before a new CBA comes in: “Revenues continue to grow so you know how the system works. Revenues grow, the cap grows.”

That probably seems painfully simple, but one of the worries heading into the new CBA negotiations was that owners may try to dial back the salary cap. That might still be the case, but it’s promising to hear Bettman say that the cap is likely to rise.

Heightened floor?

What he didn’t discuss was the salary cap floor. One interesting (and one would assume, at least slightly less contentious) possible debate for the CBA talks revolves around the possibility of “relaxing” the minimum amount a team must spend to be cap complaint. The higher ceiling is fantastic for the Chicago/Pittsburgh/Detroit’s of the NHL, but smaller market teams often struggle to spend enough to stay in the game.

If you take Bettman’s quote as a totally accurate prediction, one would guess that the floor would follow the ceiling’s lead – and make lower-budget teams continue to strain with it.

***

As with all of this talk, we’ll ultimately just need to wait and see. Yet with big-ticket players like Shea Weber set to hit the unrestricted free agent market, things could be a lot more fun if teams are allowed to spend big.

(Well, they might not end up that fun for the Nashville Predators, but still.)

Bettman tells GMs to take “business as usual” approach as CBA talks loom

3 Comments

With the boogeyman know as the return of the two-line pass shoved neatly back in the closet, NHL fans can turn back to another looming monster: the thought of another lockout.

General managers must wonder about that situation too – or at least how the NHL’s structure might change if a new CBA is hammered out in a timely fashion. It’s unlikely GMs will face a radical alteration on the scale of fresh new salary cap this time around and James Mirtle reports that Gary Bettman echoed such a sentiment by advising teams to take a “business as usual” approach despite the uncertainty.

“We told the clubs to conduct business as usual and the update is there was no update,” Bettman said. “There’s nothing going on [in terms of talks]… The fact is when the union is ready to negotiate, we’ll be ready to sit down. I’m not particularly concerned about the timeline. There’s plenty of time.”

That might be true, but many of us are biting our nails about this as we worry that the two sides will treat the situation like a college student who decides to cram a 10-page paper into one horrible caffeine-soaked night of work.*

Still, it’s not time to panic – yet – and the fact that Bettman is telling general managers to spend away seems like a positive sign. Sure, most of us would love the two sides to be proactive so they don’t end up like the NBA (hashing out a zero-hour deal that results into a ridiculously condensed season), but let’s try to stay positive.

(Starts breathing into a brown paper bag.)

* – Yup, I was one of those boneheads once.