NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2019
Is a three-year extension coming for the current NHL CBA? Will the NHLPA’s opt-out deadline be extended? All this and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reports all indications are the NHL and NHL Players Association could agree to extend the latter’s early opt-out deadline of the collective bargaining agreement (Sept. 15) by a couple of months, perhaps to Jan. 1. That would allow more time to continue negotiations toward a possible extension of the current CBA by three years to the end of 2024-25.
The current expiration date is Sept. 15, 2022. Last week, the league announced it would not use its early opt-out option. While this is a calculated risk by the league, it’s also a show of good faith to the players that it will be accommodating as long as progress continues in ongoing negotiations.
The NHLPA executive and any players who wish to attend will meet in Chicago on Wednesday to examine their options and decide their next move. Escrow remains the main issue for the players. They abhor having 12 to 14 percent of their pay clawed back and want it significantly reduced. That could mean changes to the current definition of hockey-related revenue.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Campbell said he’ll have more coming on Tuesday on how the league and the PA could address the escrow issue. Several players, such as San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic, are reportedly willing to take the early opt-out, potentially setting the stage for another lockout in a year.
Vlasic’s remarks, however, came before the league announced it would not exercise its Sept.1 option to reopen the CBA. Given the recent reports of progress and the apparent goodwill between the two sides thus far, an agreement on an extension could be in the cards. That depends, of course, on whether negotiations have reached the point where a possible solution to the escrow issue would satisfactorily address the players concerns.
So why a three-year extension rather than a new, long-term CBA? My guess is the league is playing up the prospect of more lucrative revenue streams that Campbell noted, such as the Seattle expansion, a new U.S. TV deal, legalized sports betting and live streaming games. Should those streams significantly boost hockey-related revenue over that period, it would go a long way toward addressing the players’ escrow concerns. That could ensure a smoother transition toward another agreement.
In earlier remarks, Vlasic was critical of how the league was growing revenue. Despite the promise of those new revenue streams, it might not be enough to dissuade some players from pushing for a new escrow calculation formula.
THE ATHLETIC: Two years after reacquiring Brandon Saad by shipping Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the deal hasn’t worked out as expected for the Chicago Blackhawks. While Saad’s production improved last season, the Blackhawks still hope for more from the winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad tallied 24 goals and 47 points last season, up from the disappointing 18-goal, 35-point campaign of 2017-18. Turning 27 in October, Saad could still reach or exceed his previous career highs (31 goals, 53 points).
When it comes to offensive production, however, it could be that we’ve already seen Saad’s best. He’ll remain an effective top-nine player but Blackhawks followers should keep their expectations realistic entering this season.
NBC SPORTS: After last season’s disappointing finish, the pressure’s on Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice to get his club back on track.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: His efforts could be hamstrung by the off-season depletion of the Jets’ defense corps. The departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot will affect their blueline depth this season.
SPORTING NEWS: Entering the final season of his contract, Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau insists he’s more focused on the team. Nevertheless, he insists he’s happy with the Senators and loves representing the.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: After sitting out last season recovering from post-concussion symptoms, Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns faces an uncertain future. If fully recovered, Johns could gain a spot on the Stars top-four defense pairings this season.
THE SCORE: The Los Angeles Kings will don vintage jerseys from the Wayne Gretzky era for two games this season.