The NHL has notified the NHLPA that they will not be using their opt-out clause to reopen the current CBA early according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. The agreement currently runs until September, 2022 but both sides had the ability to end it two years early. The NHL has decided not to do so, but the NHLPA has until September 15th to inform the league of their decision. Friedman does suggest however that the two sides could extend that deadline further depending on how talks go in the next few weeks. The NHLPA Executive Committee is scheduled to meet next week in Chicago. From commissioner Gary Bettman:
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. 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 continues, 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.
In any CBA, the parties can always identify issues they are unhappy with and would like to see changed. This is certainly true from the League’s standpoint. However, our analysis makes clear that the benefits of continuing to operate under the terms of the current CBA – while working with the Players’ Association to address our respective concerns – far outweigh the disruptive consequences of terminating it following the upcoming season.
Though this by no means certifies labor peace between the two sides, it could still be considered a positive development. At least one side is happy to continue with the current CBA, though that does not guarantee that the NHLPA will feel the same. Speculation has continued that the biggest sticking points between the two sides are rising escrow levels, international involvement and contract structuring.
If the players’ union decides not to re-open negotiations early and does not extend the deadline, it would mean that there would not be a work stoppage for at least the next three seasons. That would allow the two sides to move forward with plans on a potential World Cup of Hockey in 2021 and mean a smooth transition into the league for the Seattle expansion franchise.