NHL CBA talks to resume on Tuesday, sparking hopes of a thaw in the “cold war” between owners and players.
THE GLOBE & MAIL: Chris Johnston of Canadian Press reports a marathon meeting between NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr (stretching from Saturday afternoon to early Sunday morning) “covered a lot of ground” (Daly’s words), leading to the two sides slated to meet on Tuesday to resume CBA negotiations which have been stalled since October 18.
David Shoalts, meanwhile, reports a number of owners are unhappy over the league’s last proposal containing a provision preventing teams from using bonuses to reach the salary cap floor, while AHL players would see their salaries capped at $105K. “The clubs in this group include the usual small-revenue teams such as the Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and New York Islanders but others, such as the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche, are unhappy as well”, writes Shoalts. As for the AHL players, it’s possible the Professional Hockey Players’ Associations (which represents minor league players) could take the NHL to court if AHL salaries above $105K are counted against the NHL team cap.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun also reports the two sides are scheduled to meet on Tuesday in New York City. The NHLPA has a conference call between its executive and the negotiating committee slated for Monday.
THE OBSERVER.CA: Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun also suggests the frosty relations between the NHL and NHLPA might be thawing. Though all NHL games through December 1 have been cancelled, Garrioch suggests it is still possible for the NHL to stage a 60-game schedule without the Stanley Cup playoffs starting late.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cautious optimism is the overall feeling since Daly and Fehr’s lengthy meeting over the weekend. It’s the first real negotiations between the two sides since mid-October, and as Garrioch observed, there’s still time to get a deal done and play a meaningful (albeit shortened) season. Don’t expect a resolution this week, but there does appear a desire on both sides (based on what I’ve read and heard over the past three days) to reach an agreement on a new deal. Division of hockey-related revenue remains the primary sticking point, which I daresay is what will be discussed on Tuesday. Once they finally reach an agreement on that, things could move quickly after that. I’ll have more about this later today in my “Soapbox” column.
As for those two groups Shoalts noted, if Bettman pushes for this, given the commissioner’s power and influence, I doubt those owners will be able to successfully overrule him. The league would, however, have more of a fight on its hands with the PHPA, but that’ll depend upon what ends up in the new CBA.