As the NHL continues to work with the NHLPA’s Return to Play Committee on plans to begin the 2020-21 season, the league has requested more financial concessions from the players. Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that the NHL is seeking an additional 13% of salary deferral on 2020-21 player salaries. This is in addition to a 10% deferral and 20% escrow written into the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the 2020-21 season.
The league’s request means that players would see 23% of their salary, post-escrow, deferred to the future in order to help owners with the reality of reduced revenue in another season impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. For those who like equations, that means players would be paid y=.77*(.8x), with x being the player’s total compensation in 2020-21. For those who dislike equations, they would be making about 62% of their salary this season, at least for those whose signing bonuses do not exceed 62% of their total compensation. Brooks writes that he is unsure whether this request is an ultimatum by the league or a starting point for negotiations. It is also unclear if the additional 13% of deferred salary would be treated the same as the initial 10%, which will be paid out to each player in three equal installments in 2022, 2023, and 2024.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski adds that league sources have stated that under no circumstances will owners pay their players for a full 82-game season when it seems like a near certainty that the 2020-21 campaign will be considerably shortened. Of course, the existing 10% of salary deferral is already paying players for the equivalent of a 74-game season. An additional 13% of salary deferral would still pay players the equivalent of a 63-game schedule, which seems fair considering the minimum number of games has reportedly been set at 48 by the league while the hope is that it will be closer to 60 games. In either case, players will still receive their salary beyond what they would be paid on a per-game basis.
If deferred salary is still up for negotiation, the two sides need to get moving on hammering out the details. If the league hopes to begin on New Year’s Day, players have just a matter of weeks to return to their NHL cities to quarantine before training camps can open in December. There are still a lot of details to be worked out and the owners’ financial concerns are just one small part.
Fortunately, the two sides have been in communication and it seems the NHL and NHLPA have been in agreement on many goals and possible terms for a return to play. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun adds that the NHLPA’s player representatives on the Return to Play Committee are as follows: David Backes, Darren Helm, David Savard, Justin Faulk, Lars Eller, Sam Gagner, Justin Abdelkader, Ian Cole, Zach Hyman, Ron Hainsey, Claude Giroux, Ryan Dzingel, Andrew Copp, Alex Biega, Chris Kreider, Mark Scheifele. Hopefully this group can work with the league to get NHL hockey back as soon as possible and in a format that is safe and effective for the coming season.