NHL could be facing more CBA drama
By Josh Yohe
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
It could hinder Sidney Crosby's next contract with the Penguins, the organization's decision to sign or trade Jordan Staal and even general manager Ray Shero's ability to make minor transactions.
Actually, it could change everything.
The NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires in September. Anything from a smooth agreement to a work stoppage is in play.
“Both sides are optimistic something will get done,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “There's too much to lose after the last work stoppage that we had.”
The NHL lost the 2004-05 season because of a lockout that changed the game in many ways. Fans surely were lost, but others were gained after the league made rule changes that yielded more scoring.
There is a sentiment from players that, unlike in previous negotiations, they will emerge on a more even playing field following this deal.
“We made a lot of concessions in 2004,” left wing Steve Sullivan said. “(Owners) got everything they wanted. I don't know what they could ask for this time.”
This much is known:
• Many players are expecting the start of the 2012-13 season to be delayed.
• Unlike negotiations eight years ago, the players sense that owners are not on the same page.
• The NHL Players Association asked for data to support the realignment proposal during the regular season, and the NHL did not provide any. In fact, the NHLPA was told that the NHL does not possess any data relating to realignment.
• The Penguins — despite enormous resources from billionaire co-owner Ron Burkle and five consecutive seasons of sellouts — are adamant that the salary cap must remain in place. They don't want to see a significant jump to the cap number, even if such a scenario would prohibit them from signing one of their top players.
“I wouldn't say I'm concerned about it, but I'm definitely interested in it,” Orpik said. “Everybody's interested in it. We've had quite a few meetings in the last two or three months. We've had quite a few meetings that almost the whole team attended.”
The most prominent name this summer will be a familiar one to CBA negotiations. Donald Fehr, often vilified for his role in the stoppage of the 1994 baseball season, now runs the NHLPA.
“He's a really knowledgeable guy,” Orpik said. “It's basically just been grabbing his ideas and seeing what he thinks is ahead for us.”
The NHL created a realignment plan in December that was to begin during the 2012-13 season. But the players balked at the idea, largely because of the NHL's inability to provide data regarding the possibility of additional travel.
Next season's schedule and alignment will look similar to this year's.
Shero said he will conduct “business as usual” this summer. Other issues that are sure to gain attention during negotiations are player safety and the salary cap.
Mathieu Schneider, Fehr's special assistant and a former NHL defenseman, is aware that another work stoppage could halt the league's momentum.
“I have to think back to the last time there was this type of buzz around the game,” Schneider said. “And it was 1994 when the (New York) Rangers won the (Stanley) Cup.”
Then came a lockout that cut the 1994-95 season in half. Another followed nine years later.
All parties involved are hoping to avoid such a fate.
Said Orpik: “It will get more intense in the next couple of months.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-664-9161, Ext. 1975.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Letang skating, but no return set
- Penguins notebook: Heralded Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov debuts with Capitals
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins