With No New CBA, National Hockey League Goes Into Lockout

SC Staff Writer

The National Hockey League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expired at midnight on Sunday, causing the NHL to go into a lockout.
This is the fourth work stoppage for the NHL since 1992 and the third during the tenure of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
The National Hockey League’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA for short), which went into effect in 2005, expired at midnight on Sunday.

The NHL, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA), headed by Donald Fehr (who, coincidentally, was the head of Major League Baseball’s player association during the MLB players’ strike of 1994), have been negotiating a new CBA for months.

While the framework from the previous CBA will likely remain, the key issue that both sides have not been able to agree on is hockey-related revenue (also known as HRR).

The current CBA defines HRR as the money “derived or earned from, relating to or arising directly or indirectly out of the playing of NHL hockey games or NHL-related events in which current NHL Players participate or in which current NHL Players’ names and likenesses are used, by each such Club or the League, or attributable directly to the Club or the League from a Club Affiliated Entity or League Affiliated Entity.”

Currently, 57 percent of HRR is going towards player salaries. The team owners feel that there should not be that big of a share of HRR going toward the players and that more should go to the owners. This is stemming from the poorer “smaller-market” teams (ex. Phoenix Coyotes, and Columbus Blue Jackets) being in need of more money to operate.

Negotiations have been going on for months, with little progress being made. This has caused a great deal of frustration for the fans, who now have to sit through yet another work stoppage.

This is also the third time in two years that a major sports league has gone into a lockout.

Last year, both the National Basketball Association and National Football League experienced a lockout. While the NFL was able to agree on a new CBA in time to start the season as scheduled (though this cancelled the annual Hall of Fame game, played in Canton, Ohio–home of the NFL Hall of Fame), the NBA season did not start until Christmas Day, shortening the season from 82 to 66 games as a result of their lockout.

The NHLPA offered to meet once more prior to the midnight deadline, the NHL declined to meet.

“We spoke today and determined that there was no point in convening a formal bargaining session in light of the fact that neither side is in a position to move off of its last proposal,” said Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly through an e-mail.

Some have spoken out on the players’ behalf. “We’ve shown we’re willing to give, but they’ve got to be willing,” Pittsburgh Penguins all-star center Sidney Crosby said. “It seems like there’s a pretty hard line there, and they’re not willing to budge.” He is one of many players who have expressed frustration with the NHL and the owners’ unwillingness to comply.

Right now, the NHL season is scheduled to begin on October 11th. Several individual teams are expected to announce the cancellation of their training camp.

One of the biggest dates is January 1st, 2013. The NHL’s annual Winter Classic, between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at University of Michigan’s Michigan Stadium, is scheduled for New Year’s Day 2013. Should the NHL have to cancel this game, that would be a huge blow to the league (as attendance is expected to be in excess of 114,000).

At this point there is no saying how long the lockout will last, though the NHL (hopefully) will not let another season be lost due to a labor dispute.

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