According to a report from TSN hockey insider Pierre LeBrun, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have not spoken in a week's time with regards to NHL's demands that players lower their salary for the 2020-21 season.
LeBrun also reports that both sides were in daily contact for the entire offseason up until the NHL issued a demand that the players forfeit an additional 13% of their salaries before dropping the puck on a new season. The fact that these two sides are effectively going dark does not bode well for a 2020-21 season. And like all squabbles between the NHL and the NHLPA, it's hockey fans who will pay the ultimate price.
Last week, longtime NHL reporter Larry Brooks of The New York Post reported of this issues between the two sides. 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.
Hmmm... 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.
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.