Rumor: Players planning for 48 game season starting “late Jan or early Feb”

Better than nothing?


According to a report from NHL insider Andy Stickland, it looks like hockey fans will have to wait until "mid to late Jan or early Feb" for NHL hockey. Stickland reports that "everything you see and hear" from the NHL and the NHLPA indicates that a 48 game season is on tap.

Check it out:

I gotta say... I'm not convinced.

NHL insiders Pierre LeBrun and Kevin McGran have both reported that it appears we're headed for a lockout if the league and the players can't come to terms on a 2020-21 season. 

From McGran's latest column for The Toronto Star:

...this is right in the playbook from the 2012-13 season. The league’s last offer on the table prior to the first cancelling of a slate of games was Sept. 19, 2012. The league asked players to slash their salaries down to 44 per cent of hockey related revenue. They had been getting 57 per cent of HRR till then.
Then long stretches of silence. Things perked up mid-October, then again early-November, then again early December. That’s when the threats of legal action went both ways: the association saying it would decertify, the league saying it would nullify all contracts.
Things got serious on Dec. 27, and a deal was reached Jan. 6 (I was at London Heathrow, catching a connecting flight home from the world juniors in Russia, Team Canada’s players gathering around my phone because I was the only one with service.)
They had a one-week training camp starting Jan. 11. A 48-game season started Jan. 19.

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.