NHL CBA Update – January 20, 2019
In recent weeks, discussions between the NHL and NHL Players Association regarding a possible a World Cup of Hockey tournament in September 2020 prompted speculation the event could become a deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement.
Both sides have the option to opt-out of the current agreement this September. It was assumed they would avoid the current CBA expiring while the tournament was taking place.
Considering the contentious labor history between the two sides, the possibility of labor peace by September 2020 would be a welcome change.
Last week, however, the league and the PA released joint statements announcing it was “no longer realistic” to schedule that tournament next September.
Such news would ordinarily suggest more labor trouble on the horizon. However, most observers noted the tone of the statements was rather mild, with both two sides indicated their intention to continue broader discussions.
In other words, just because there won’t be a World Cup of Hockey next year doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be a new CBA in the near future.
Since November, various reports have the league and the PA holding ongoing talks regarding a possible CBA extension. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman seems keen to avoid a fourth lockout on his watch, recently telling reporters he’s not looking for a fight with the PA.
Fans can be forgiven for their cynicism over Bettman’s comment. As the good folks at the Puck Soup podcast observed, the commissioner said the same thing roughly a year before imposing the season-killing lockout of 2004-05.
By most accounts, the league doesn’t have any significant issues worth jeopardizing a season over. Escrow and Olympic participation are hot-button topics for the players but the PA doesn’t sound as militant as it once was.
Some pundits have noted a distinct change in tone between the two sides, providing hope that a new collective bargaining agreement can be worked out without another long work stoppage. Time will tell if that’s the case.