The NHL, satisfied with the current labor situation, announced Friday that it won’t reopen the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with its players next year.
Facing a Sept. 1 deadline to decide whether to opt out of the last two years of the CBA, the league issued a statement indicating it plans to leave the deal in place.
“Based on the current state of the game and the business of the game, the NHL believes it is essential to continue building upon the momentum we have created with our Players and, therefore, will not exercise its option to reopen the CBA,” commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “Rather, we are prepared to have the current CBA remain in effect for its full term — three more seasons through the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.
“It is our hope that a continued, sustained period of labor peace will enable us to further grow the game and benefit all constituent groups: NHL Players, Clubs, our business partners and, most important, our fans.”
The announcement does not ensure long-term labor peace, however. The NHL Players’ Association must decide by Sept. 15 whether it plans to reopen the CBA, which then would expire on Sept. 15, 2020.
The NHLPA said in a statement, “Today the NHL advised the NHLPA that the league will not exercise its early termination right under the CBA. The NHLPA now has the same option. We will continue to discuss this matter with players as our September 15 decision approaches.”
According to ESPN.com, the players have several key issues they want to address that possibly could lead to a request to reopen the CBA.
The players reportedly want to be guaranteed the right to participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics after the NHL barred them from participating in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. Also, ESPN reported that the players are unhappy that part of their salaries goes back to the owners to cover possible shortfalls.
The NHL has endured five significant work stoppages related to labor disputes since 1991-92, including the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season.
—Field Level Media