Over the last couple of weeks, the collective bargaining agreement talks have heated up between the league owners and Players’ Association. The current CBA was signed back in January 2013 and is set to expire on September 15, 2022.
THE OPT-OUT CLAUSE
The owners and Players’ Association were given opt-outs of the current CBA at certain points in time. Within the last week, the owners were given the option to do so, but did not exercise the option because they felt that the league was healthy.
The players have the option to opt out as well, and their deadline to do so is September 15. The players are set to meet in New York on Friday for more CBA negotiations.
THE TALKING POINTS
Some of the things that both sides will need to find an agreement on include player escrow, a new television deal, hockey related revenue, and the Olympics.
Escrow has always been an issue with players. Both sides must find a way to possibly mitigate the escrow coming out of the players’ paychecks.
A new television deal is in store for the NHL within the next couple of years. The current TV deal with Comcast/NBC expires at the end of the 2021-22 season. It was signed in 2011 for 10 years and worth $2 billion dollars. The new television deal the NHL is reportedly seeking is rumored to be worth at least $750 million per season.
The NHL’s next TV deal should help ease some issues with player escrow and hockey related revenue. Perhaps the NHL could try to generate a bidding war between major networks like Comcast/NBC, ESPN, and Fox for their next TV deal.
In regards to the Olympics, the NHL owners and Gary Bettman seem very hesitant on going. They cite player safety and wellness as prime issues for attending the next Olympics. The owners will likely seek another World Cup of Hockey as a counter to the players who want to attend the Olympics.
WHERE DO THINGS STAND?
It appears that both sides are having good dialogue so far, and there seems to be a lot of agreement in place already. It would be a surprise to see the players choose to opt out of the current CBA by September 15.
The state of the league seems very healthy right now, and both sides still have some time to work things over by the final 2022 deadline. This is going to be a slow process, so no one should think that things will be finalized on a new CBA within the next year or two.
It would be a bad look for the league to go into a third lockout within two decades. Both sides likely realize that and want to avoid that, so talks should be more progressive this time around for the next CBA.
By: George Foussekis