The NHL is using the Olympic dream to play hardball with the Players Association, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
As we’ve previously reported, the NHL is offering Olympic participation in exchange for a three-year extension of the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). But the NHLPA isn’t likely to accept that proposal due to their unhappiness with the escrow agreement.
Brooks compared the escrow situation to a classic Seinfeld quote, “the players are angry, my friends, like old men trying to send back soup in a deli.”
The players are not happy with losing 15% of their yearly salary. And they’re furious, according to Brooks, that the NHL is holding the Olympics over their head to increase the CBA’s length. Originally, the NHL said they needed the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to cover player costs, which President René Fasel ultimately agreed to. But then NHL decided it needed more from the players in order to go to the Olympics. As Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist put it, “it sounds like they’re pretty happy at the league with what they have, doesn’t it?”
Brooks writes that this could be the issue that finally unites the Players Association for the first time since they fractured during the 2004-05 lockout as different parts fought for and against the implementation of a hard salary cap. They could fight for a hard cap on escrow, like the NBA has.
With the NHL publicly open to extending the current CBA, it would be “an Olympian task” for them to lock out the players for a fourth time under Gary Bettman.
- The Detroit Red Wings will have some scoring help when they face the Calgary Flames on Sunday as Thomas Vanek is set to return to the lineup. Vanek has missed 11 games, in which the Red Wings had a paltry record of 3-7-1. They’ve had trouble scoring just 18 goals in those 11 games. Vanek has four goals and eight points in seven games played, and should boost the Red Wings. He’ll play on the top line with Frans Nielsen and Dylan Larkin against the Flames, according to George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press.
- On Friday, we reported that the Vancouver Canucks were no longer interested in pursuing hometown boy Evander Kane. On Hockey Night in Canada, Elliotte Friedman reported that the Sabres’ asking price was too high for the Canucks, and that’s what lead to the breakdown of talks. Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshnyski wrote that the two would have been a poor fit, as the Canucks are rebuilding and Kane averages “a police investigation per season and can’t stay healthy.” Wyshnyski said he doubts Kane would be able to stay on his “best behaviour during a prolonged rebuild,” and concluded “thank God for high asking prices.”