NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2020
The players could end up owing the owners millions of dollars by the end of this CBA, plus the latest on Braden Holtby, Nick Robertson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: During the latest “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman speculated the next round of collective bargaining between the NHL and NHL Players Association at the end of the current CBA could be affected by the players’ unwillingness to accept a higher rate of escrow and additional salary deferrals for the coming season.
Friedman noted the effects of COVID-19 upon hockey-related revenue means the players’ share for this season will exceed 50 percent. Under the terms of the CBA, the players have to repay any overage to the owners, but the 20 percent cap on escrow for 2020-21 means the players will still owe millions of dollars to the owners.
The players may feel vindicated by digging in their heels and forcing the league to adhere to the terms of the CBA. However, Friedman feels there’s a major bill coming due at the end of the current agreement that will be paid in large part by young players currently starting their NHL careers and those yet to come.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players were within their rights under the CBA to reject the league’s requests for additional escrow and salary deferral. But as Friedman also noted, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was right when he indicated the players could end up paying back more at the end of this agreement if they didn’t pay that overage during the coming season.
This could set the stage for another contentious round of negotiations as the extension to the CBA expires in September 2026. Of course, that’s not a front-burner issue right now given the push for staging a season in the middle of a pandemic. Rest assured, however, it will take on greater significance during the final two years of the agreement.
Perhaps the two sides can work out a deal that avoids another potential work stoppage in six years’ time. That will require considerable foresight on both sides.
I don’t expect Bettman and the team owners to just let this issue lie. Sure, they need labor peace right now to get a shortened season underway in order to fulfill their broadcasting and advertising contracts and prepare to entertain bids for a more lucrative US television deal next summer. They also want to ensure a smooth path for the Seattle Kraken’s debut in 2021-22. However, the NHL could raise the overage issue with the players again at some point within the next couple of years.
THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith lists his winners and losers of the NHL’s proposed divisional realignment for the coming season. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are among his clubs that benefit while the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks are among those that could suffer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams will be affected more than others by the quality of the opponents within their realigned divisions. Time zones and travel could also become a factor.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby said he won’t wear the new Indigenous-themed mask he planned to use this season following complaints that it appropriated aboriginal culture. “I just wanted to make sure I apologize to anyone I had offended,” said Holtby.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson won’t be joining Team USA at the upcoming World Junior Championship in Edmonton. The Leafs training camp is slated to open during the tournament.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Former hockey agency executive David Ludwig has been hired by the Arizona Coyotes as their new director of hockey operations and salary cap compliance.