NHL players prepare to strike back

NHL players prepare to strike back
January 4, 2013, 11:15 am
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The ticking time bomb of NHL labor negotiations has grown more acrimonious by the day.

While representatives of the NHL and its players’ association meet with a federal mediator again Friday in New York, the players have begun another vote to file a disclaimer of interest.

Electronic voting began at 6 p.m. Thursday night and will continue through 6 p.m. on Saturday. If passed, the players again will have the right to disband the union and collectively file an anti-trust suit against the league.

Earlier this week the players overwhelmingly voted to disband the union, but with negotiations apparently moving in the right direction executive director Don Fehr decided not to pull the trigger on filing the disclaimer before midnight Wednesday night.

According to multiple reports, the distrust between the two sides was heightened when lawyers representing the players discovered the NHL had removed clauses from its proposal last week that imposed penalties on NHL teams that inaccurately report hockey-related revenue.

The players are now hoping the threat of another disclaimer of interest will pressure the owners into agreeing to a new CBA before Gary Bettman’s Jan. 11 deadline.

As it stands now there has been some movement from the two sides throughout this week.

  • The NHLPA agreed to go to 10 years in CBA length, with an opt-out after 7 years. [The NHL was seeking an opt-out after 8 years].
  • The NHL agreed to increase compliance buyouts to two per NHL team instead of one.
  • The NHL agreed to increase its year-to-year variance on player contracts from 10 percent to 30 percent, a large increase over its original 5 percent.

There still remains significant gaps to close in the negotiations, most notably:

  • The NHLPA’s insistence on increasing the 2013-14 salary cap from the proposed $60 million.
  • The NHLPA’s desire for maximum player contract lengths to go from six years to eight.
  • The NHLPA’s push for the league to fund player pensions.

While those are considered significant issues for the players, none are believed to be deal breakers.

But with seven days remaining before Bettman’s deadline to begin training camps, both sides are trying to draw as much blood from each other as possible, which could push these negotiations down to the last day