A few weeks back longtime NHL reporter Larry Brooks of The New York Post reported that the NHL was effectively asking the NHLPA to ignore the terms of its Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed to just this past July. Instead, the NHL was asking for the players to give up an even bigger cut of their salary in order to have a profitable 2020-21 season. Despite negotiating a new contract with a 10% salary deferral just 4 months ago, Brooks reported that it was the NHL who changed their position and demanded that the players cough up an extra 13% and, in effect, defer a full quarter of their salary for next season.
From Brooks' article:
The NHL is seeking financial concessions in the form of a 13 percent deferral on 2020-21 pay from players as an opening gambit in Return to Play negotiations for the 2020-21 season, multiple sources have told The Post.
It is unclear how the NHLPA, which agreed to a 10 percent deferral in the six-year collective bargaining agreement extension agreed upon by the parties just over four months ago in early July, will respond. Escrow will be capped — and set — at 20 percent for the season.
Now NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is vehemently denying that the league is trying to re-negotiate their deal with the NHLPA and is simply looking for ways to "avoid stressing the system."
Check it out:
Umm.... if this isn't a renegotiation then what do you call it, Gary? A shakedown? A high stakes game of chicken? Because that's what it looks like on the outside.
Look, I get it... on the one hand, what is the NHL supposed to do? There's no revenue coming in. On the other hand, they signed an agreement... an agreement that's so fresh that the ink still hasn't dried. They agreed to these terms just four months ago.
Complicating logistics even further though is the fact that the players reportedly are digging in their heels and are refusing to play or train through the holiday season.
Check it out:
This would push the season back another two weeks and would likely necessitate a February start date.
Here's the real kicker though: the players really don't have any leverage in this situation. Does it suck that the NHL is going back on their own word? Of course, but frankly the players either get a smaller percentage of their salary or they get zero salary. Which would you choose?
Suffice it to say, things could get very, very, VERY contentious between the NHL and the NHLPA over the next few weeks. Frankly, I'm just happy that the two sides agreed to a proper Collective Bargaining Agreement ahead of this squabble, because we know that Gary Bettman and company have no problem locking out the players and fans from this sport whenever it serves their bottom line.