It’s shaping up to be another rough summer for the NHL. Last year, the headlines were mostly about tragic player deaths. This year, they seem destined to be about labor negotiations. The current collective-bargaining agreement between owners and players is set to expire on Sept. 15, and if a new agreement is not reached before then, there will likely be a work stoppage, meaning that training camps would not open on time and the start of the season could be in jeopardy.
The good news is that the league and the players’ association seem set to begin negotiations this week and, at least so far, there hasn’t been any public bickering (that could change in a heartbeat). The bad news is that there appear to be some major issues separating the two sides, not to mention that the league showed, eight years ago, that it’s not afraid to lock out players for an entire season. Plus, new union chief Donald Fehr oversaw the Major League Baseball Players’ Association in 1994, when a strike led to the cancellation of the World Series.
Fehr, in Chicago today for players’ association meetings, told reporters he would be open to the idea of negotiating (and, more importantly, playing) past the Sept. 15 deadline, but it’s more likely that the NHL would lock out the players.
What are the issues? SportsNet has a good breakdown here, including talk of splitting revenue — players currently get 57 percent, which owners will want to reduce — the salary-cap floor, cap-circumvention issues and players’ participating in the 2014 Olympics. This is why any talk of the 2012-13 is accompanied by a proverbial asterisk…