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NHL GMs still waiting for final 2019-20 salary cap numbers

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The wheeling and dealing has already begun ahead of the start of the 2019 NHL Draft this weekend. Between trades, buyouts, and extensions, general managers are getting to work on preparing for next season.

There is one problem, however, as Friday approaches and the draft begins. Due to the Stanley Cup Final going seven games, the calculations that determine the salary cap ceiling and floor have yet to be finalized. GMs were given a projection of an $83M ceiling back during their meetings in December, but official numbers may not be finalized until Saturday — and the upper limit may come in lower than expected.

The cap ceiling for the 2018-19 season was $79.5M, an increase from $75M from 2017-18.

Now, if you’re a general manager who likes to spend to the cap ceiling to maximize your efforts to win the Stanley Cup, well you’re in quite the holding pattern at the moment. The delay could also have a major impact on trade talks this weekend, possibly making for a quiet Friday night on the draft floor as general manager wait and see where the range ends up.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL, NHLPA agree to no World Cup in 2020

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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

No official CBA negotiations until June?

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Fans hoping for NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to start making some serious progress towards a new collective bargaining agreement could be very disappointed. According to Eric Francis on CBC’s Hot Stove, the two sides aren’t expected to officially kick off negotiations until after the Stanley Cup finals in June.

The logic is pretty much what you would figure. For the Players’ Association, waiting would allow all players to be fully focus on the process and not just the ones from teams that have already been eliminated. The NHL would also avoid running the risk of the CBA negotiations distracting from the playoffs.

The current CBA runs through September, so even if they wait until June to get the ball rolling, they’ll still have plenty of time to work things out. That being said, if they don’t resolve the issue by July, then GMs could be in an awkward position during this summer’s free agent market. According to Elliotte Friedman, the salary cap could be above $70 million in July, but that doesn’t mean it will be anything near that come September.

Insuring concussed players could “alter hockey industry”

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Learning more about concussions is fantastic from a preventive standpoint, but as history shows, progress often comes with some headaches.

Rick Westhead offers the latest troubling wrinkle to the issue: insurance companies might just balk at covering players with histories of concussion problems in the future.

Insurance companies specializing in sports say the Penguins and other NHL teams will increasingly have to adopt the risk of million-dollar contracts alone as the number of players sidelined with concussions swells. The prospect threatens to alter the hockey industry.

… If more players continue to be sidelined with concussions, insurers may stop insuring players with brain injuries altogether.

For some of you, insurance is an eyes-glazing-over issue. That’s understandable, but it could come at a brutal cost for teams and/or players. Things could get especially interesting/horrible if this issue would have a big impact on Sidney Crosby’s next contract negotiations since his second deal runs out after the 2012-13 season.

(Then again, perhaps a new CBA will alleviate that problem – if it doesn’t bring about a hockey apocalypse in the process.)

Look, it’s fantastic that the sports world is becoming more educated about concussions – or at least afraid enough to handle these situations with less haste – but there are times when the problems almost feel crippling. It’s wrong to say that ignorance is bliss, but there are some undeniable growing pains that come with increased knowledge, too.

Bettman hopes collective bargaining will be “painless and quiet and quick”

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There was a bit of unease today when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there’s no set date to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.

With the current CBA set to expire on Sept. 15, several media outlets reacted with doom and gloom — that included Reuters, which ran with the “Labor war looms over All-Star weekend” headline.

Labor war? Hopefully not, Bettman said.

“My hope is that we can reason together and that collective bargaining will be painless and quiet and quick,” Bettman told reporters following Saturday’s board of governors meeting. “That would serve everyone’s best interest.”

The scent of labor strife has been in the air since the NHLPA rejected the NHL’s proposed realignment. Many saw it as the first shot fired by players’ association head Donald Fehr, the former Major League Baseball PA executive director known for his hard-nosed negotiation practices.

On Saturday, Fehr re-iterated much of what Bettman said — there’s no set date for the two sides to begin CBA talks.

“I don’t know yet, there will obviously be some preliminary discussions to set things up and talk about things,” Fehr said. “Obviously, my preference will be when we get to the real significant sessions to do it at a point in time, which is rather more likely to have players present easily than less.

“But we’ll know sometime in the next few weeks how that’s going to play out.”

Fehr also stated that people (read: media types) might be reading too much into the lack of a formal start date. He and the NHLPA want to obtain more financial information before getting down to brass tacks.

“There’s this view that somehow if you have this big meeting and everyone comes and takes pictures of a dozen or two dozen people sitting around a table like the auto workers used to do, that somehow magically that signifies the kickoff of something in a formal way and that the world is different as between before and after,” Fehr said.

“That’s largely untrue. … Don’t make more out of it than is there.”